Development of Early Humans
and the Neolithic Age
Early Humans
Early Humans
Australopithecine and other early hominin fossils have been found only in Africa. The majority of
them were discovered in East and South Africa. However, some also were found in Chad,
which is located in North Central Africa. The following species are the most widely accepted
1. Australopithecus anamensis
2. Australopithecus afarensis
3. Australopithecus africanus
4. Paranthropus aethiopicus (or Australopithecus aethiopicus)
5. Paranthropus boisei (or Australopithecus boisei)
6. Paranthropus robustus (or Australopithecus robustus)
Early Humans
Australopithecine Species
Australopithecus anamensis may have been the earliest australopithecine species. They
lived about 4.2-3.9 million years ago in East Africa. Unfortunately, little is known about them due
to the scarcity of their fossils and the fact that the ones that have been found are highly
fragmentary. This species apparently was descended from Ardipithecus ramidus, which lived
around 4.4 million years ago, or an even earlier ape/hominin transitional species near the
beginning of the Pliocene Epoch. Anamensis was bipedal but may still have been an efficient
tree climber.
Australopithecus afarensis lived about 3.7-3.0 million years ago in East Africa. Skeletally,
they were still somewhat transitional from earlier ape species. This can be seen in their legs
which were relatively shorter than those of the later australopithecines and humans.
Australopithecus africanus lived about 3.3-2.5 million years ago in South and East Africa.
Skeletally, they were less ape-like than earlier species of australopithecines but were still usually
small and light in frame like afarensis. However, the teeth of africanus were in some ways more
like humans than like afarensis. Specifically, the front teeth of africanus were relatively large like
ours and their canine teeth did not project beyond the others.
Early Humans
Paranthropoid Species
Paranthropus aethiopicus (the "black skull") other than it apparently was one of the earliest
robust species--it lived about 2.5 million years ago. So far, this species has been found only in
East Africa. Since it had a smaller brain than the other robust species and it was early,
aethiopicus is thought to be a transitional form from one of the gracile species that came before.
It had an unusually large sagittal crest.
Paranthropus robustus was a South African robust species that lived about 2.0-1.4 million
years ago. They had strong jaws and very large molar and premolar teeth with thick enamel.
Males also had pronounced sagittal crests, though not as large as the species listed next.
Paranthropus boisei was a super-robust East African species that lived about 2.0-1.4 million
years ago. They tended to be more massive and beefy-looking even than Paranthropus
robustus. Male boisei were especially muscular. Like their South African cousins, robustus,
they had prominent sagittal crests and very large grinding teeth with thick enamel. These teeth
would have been capable of cracking hard nuts and dry seeds.
Early Humans
Early Humans
Replacement Model
Christopher Stringer and Peter Andrews proposes that modern humans evolved from archaic humans
200,000-150,000 years ago only in Africa and then some of them migrated into the rest of the Old World
replacing all of the Neandertals and other late archaic humans beginning around 60,000-40,000 years ago or
somewhat earlier. If this interpretation of the fossil record is correct, all people today share a relatively
modern African ancestry.
Regional Continuity Model
(or multiregional evolution model) advocated by Milford Wolpoff proposes that modern humans evolved more
or less simultaneously in all major regions of the Old World from local archaic humans. Supporters of this
model believe that the ultimate common ancestor of all modern people was an early Homo erectus in Africa
who lived at least 1.8 million years ago. It is further suggested that since then there was sufficient gene flow
between Europe, Africa, and Asia to prevent long-term reproductive isolation and the subsequent evolution of
distinct regional species.
Early Humans
Early Humans
Assimilation Model
The assimilation (or partial replacement) model takes a middle ground and incorporates both of the old
models. Gunter Brauer, of the University of Hamburg in Germany, proposes that the first modern humans did
evolve in Africa, but when they migrated into other regions they did not simply replace existing human
populations. Rather, they interbred to a limited degree with late archaic humans resulting in hybrid
In 2003, a discovery was made in a Romanian cave named Peştera cu Oase that supports this hypothesis. It
was a partial skeleton of a 15-16 year old male Homo sapiens who lived about 30,000 years ago or a bit
earlier. He had a mix of old and new anatomical features. The skull had characteristics of both modern and
archaic humans.
Alan Templeton, also of Washington University, reported that a computer-based analysis of 10 different human
DNA sequences indicates that there has been interbreeding between people living in Asia, Europe, and Africa
for at least 600,000 years.
Early Humans
Expansion out from the Old World
Homo sapiens began migrating into the lower latitudes of East Asia by at least 70,000 years ago.
Homo sapiens from Southeast Asia travelled to Australia by 46,000 years ago and possibly as early as 60,000
years ago. Because Australia was not connected to Southeast Asia by land, it is probable that these first
Australian Aborigines arrived by simple boats or rafts.
Modern humans reached the Japanese Islands by 30,000 years ago or somewhat earlier.
Around 35,000-30,000 years ago, Homo sapiens big game hunters moved into Northeastern Siberia. Some of
them migrated into North America via the Bering Plain, or Beringia by 20,000-15,000 years ago.
Some Homo sapiens may have reached the Americas a bit earlier than this, but the evidence is still
considered questionable by most paleoanthropologists. The Bering Plain intercontinental land connection
appeared between Siberia and Alaska as a result of sea levels dropping up to 450 feet (137 m.) during the
final major cold period of the last ice age. Until that time, all human evolution had occurred in the Old World.
Early Humans
Early Humans
Humans are members of the genus Homo modern people are Homo sapiens. The immediate ancestors of
early humans were most likely late australopithecines. At present, the leading contender for that ancestral
species is Australopithecus garhi . There may have been one or possibly two species of the first humans living
in East Africa--Homo rudolfensis and Homo habilis.
Early transitional human fossils were first discovered in 1960 by Louis and Mary Leakey at Olduvai Gorge in
Tanzania. The Leakeys named them Homo habilis (Latin for "handy or skilled human") because they
apparently made stone tools. Similar fossils were found at East Lake Turkana in Kenya by Richard Leakey's
team of fieldworkers that began searching there in 1969. These latter specimens were named Homo
rudolfensis after Lake Rudolf (i.e., the former name for Lake Turkana).
Early transitional humans had brains that on average were
about 35% larger than those of Australopithecus africanus.
In fact, it is beginning with Homo habilis that our ancestors
finally had brains that were consistently bigger than those
of the great apes.
As the early human cranium, or brain case, began to enlarge
in response to increased brain size, the mouth became smaller.
Early Humans
Early Humans
Homo erectus were anatomically much like modern humans from the neck down.
Their arm and leg bones were essentially the same as modern people in shape and relative proportions. This
strongly supports the view that they were equal to us in their ability to walk and run bipedality.
It has been suggested that this capability would have allowed them to run down small and even medium size
game animals on the tropical savannas of East Africa.
Their foreheads were shallow, sloping back from very prominent bony brow ridges
Homo erectus teeth were generally intermediate between modern humans and the australopithecines in
shape and size.
Early Humans
Early Humans Culture
--Located in Central and Southern Africa
--Traveled in small groups
--Pre-determined patterns to gather food
Homo Sapiens Neanderthal found in the Neander Valley in Germany in 1857
--lived 135,000—30,000 years ago
--arms and legs twice as thick as ours
--long faces with sloping foreheads
--buried their dead/believed in an afterlife
Homo-sapiens Cro-Magnon
--hunted caribou, mammoth and reindeer herds
--some lived to middle age or older
--flower pollen on graves indicates beliefs and rituals
--It is believed that homo sapiens killed off neanderthal
Early Humans
Early Humans Culture
The Stone Age
The development of human cultures when tools and weapons were made of stone. They are divided into three
Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) 500,000-10,000 years ago
Tools such as chipped pebbles, stone or bone implements were common.
Mesolithic (Middle Stone age) 10,000-8,000 years ago
Technology advances and the use of the microlith (triangular-shaped blade), bow and arrow and the fish hook
are common
Neolithic (New Stone Age) 8,000-5,000
Time period of the Neolithic Revolution, why? People went from food gathering to food producing
Early Humans
Early Humans Culture
Paleolithic and Mesolithic
--hunters and gathers followed predetermined paths for food
--Society of 30 to 50 people in a clan, close together collectivistic
--beginning of agriculture, why? Large animals breed slowly, smaller animals breed
--Impersonal structure, many individualistic based on wealth
--Learned how to weave

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