Early Homonid Species: Homo Genus


Figure 1.--This is a diorama of 'Homo habilis'--the tool maker. This is a scientific reproduction of a find in eastern Africa by the Turkana Lake. We are not sure if the diorama is meant to show the people here killed the animal or were scavengers. We do not see any weapons displayed. Source: Moravian Land Museum in Brno.

Anthroplogists have deveoped a complicated story of the evolutin of homonoid species in Africa. Homo erectus was probably the first homonid to develop a hunter-gatherer society--the life style practiced by humans for most of our history. It is unclear, however, to what extent he was a hunter as opposed to a scavenger. Hunting probably did not become primary until the neolithic era and the ability to make sophisticated tools, especially weapons. Without weapons, homonoid species would be very limited as to what they could hunt and kill. Most anthropologists identify H. erectus as the first homonid to look much like modern humans and to develop social relationships more like modern humans than the more ape-like Australopithecus species that preceeded it. The Homo species tended to have increased cranial capacity which generally coincides with the increasingly sophisticated tools some times found with the fossils. Another important species was H. ergaster. These early fosil remains are extrenely rare and thus it is dificult to know for sure if they are really different species. Scientists are, however, making important strides in fitting together the relationship of these different species. A sucessor species, Homo erectus was also found in Africa about 1.8 million years ago, but spread all over the Old World. Erectus had a larger brain reflected in more sophisticated tools. He may also have discovered the use of fire. A key early Homo species was Homo habilis--the tool maker. The neolithic species can be dated with the appearance of H. habalis. This of course demonstrates the importance of tools is the making of modern man. H. habilis, like all the ape species in the human evolutionary line, lived in Africa. Homo sapiens or modern man originated in Africa about 0.4 million years ago. These people also spread throughout the Old World and eventually reaching the New World. One notable characteristic of H. sapiens is a lack of genetic diversity, far less than most other species. It is believed that this reflects a kind of genetic bottle neck in which only a small number of humans survived. Some believe that this genetic bottle neck was caused by the eruption of the Toba mega-volcano and resulting in a mini-ice age about 75.000 years ago. The findings of ancient humanoids are very rare and what has been found are incomlte remains. Thi has led to an alternative theory that many of the findings are the same sopecis and that the differences are simply the normal variation within species. Findings at Dmanisi in Georgia have lebt crednce to this theory which is still a minority view.

Homo Diversity: Inter Species Diversity

Anthroplogists have deveoped a complicated story of the evolutin of homonoid species in Africa. Homo erectus was probably the first homonid to develop a hunter-gatherer society--the life style practiced by humans for most of our history. It is unclear, however, to what extent he was a hunter as opposed to a scavenger. Hunting probably did not become primary until the neolithic era and the ability to make sophisticated tools, especially weapons. Without weapons, homonoid species would be very limited as to what they could hunt and kill. Most anthropologists identify H. erectus as the first homonid to look much like modern humans and to develop social relationships more like modern humans than the more ape-like Australopithecus species that preceeded it. The Homo species tended to have increased cranial capacity which generally coincides with the increasingly sophisticated tools some times found with the fossils. Another important species was H. ergaster. These early fosil remains are extrenely rare and thus it is dificult to know for sure if they are really different species. Scientists are, however, making important strides in fitting together the relationship of these different species. A sucessor species, Homo erectus was also found in Africa about 1.8 million years ago, but spread all over the Old World. Erectus had a larger brain reflected in more sophisticated tools. He may also have discovered the use of fire. A key early Homo species was Homo habilis--the tool maker. The neolithic species can be dated with the appearance of H. habalis. This of course demonstrates the importance of tools is the making of modern man. H. habilis, like all the ape species in the human evolutionary line, lived in Africa. Homo sapiens or modern man originated in Africa about 0.4 million years ago. These people also spread throughout the Old World and eventually reaching the New World. One notable characteristic of H. sapiens is a lack of genetic diversity, far less than most other species. It is believed that this reflects a kind of genetic bottle neck in which only a small number of humans survived. Some believe that this genetic bottle neck was caused by the eruption of the Toba mega-volcano and resulting in a mini-ice age about 75.000 years ago.

Simpler Story: Intra-species Diversity

The findings of ancient homonids are very rare and what has been found are incomlte remains. Thi has led to an alternative theory that many of the findings are the same specis and that the differences are simply the normal variation within species. Findings at Dmanisi in Georgia have lent credence to this theory which is still a minority view. Anthropologists studing homonid remains at Dmanisi speculate that the story of evolution is much simpler with fewer ancestral species than is commonly believed. They see a single, developing lineage. They believe that Homo erectus, H. habilis and others may represent just variations among homonid individuals of the same species. Researchers have found the remains of five individuals who lived in the same area at about the same time some 1.8 million years ago. The location at Dmanisi suggess that they were part of the procss of moving out of Africa and into Eurasia. Skull 5 was particularly important as it is 'the world's first completely preserved adult hominid skull'. [Lordkipanidze and Zollikofer] Skull 5 confirms that homonids did not need big bains to begin the migration out of Africa. And the skull had many ape-like features: long face, large teeth, and a small brain case (about one-third that of modern humans). The Dmanisi researhers believe that had the remains thy found been at different locations, anthropologists would have identified differentb species. This was especiallthe case of skull 5 with a brain case and face that would seem to com from different soecies.

Sources

Lordkipanidze, David (Georgian National Mueum) and Christoph Zollikofer (University of Zurich). Science (October 17, 2013).







CIH






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Created: 1:06 PM 7/24/2013
Last updated: 6:30 PM 11/26/2013