Lecture 7: The Genus Homo

Early Homo - 2.5 to 1.6 Million Years Ago

Louis Leaky

  • Olduvai Gorge, North Tanzania
  • 1.8 Million Years Ago
  • Homo Habilis – Habilis means tool maker
  • Tools found at the site that attribute to this species
  • Significance of the name
  • Early tool makers
  • Ancestors to modern humans


Other sites -

East Africa

  • Omo, South Ethiopia
  • Koobi Fora – KNM-ER 1470 – Richard Leaky
  • Found within the time frame of early homo
  • 1.9 Million Years Ago
  • 752 cc
  • Suggested that it may fall in a different species
  • Because of its face – Considered different species
  • Molars still large
  • Still has broad cheekbones because of the enlargement of the temporalis muscles
  • No heavy crests
  • Robust face
  • More human-like brain organization
  • Associated crude stone tools
  • Olduvai Gorge


South Africa

  • Sterfontein – (STW 53)
  • Swartkrans


General trends of early homo in comparison to australopithecines

Cranial Anatomy -

  • Brain expansion 600-800cc
  • Thin walled – no crests
  • Rounded vault
  • Weakly projecting ridges
  • Variable facial proportions between individuals
  • No sagittal crest
  • Reduced prognathism
  • Rounded cranial vault


Dentition -

  • Compared to australopithecines -
  • Larger compared to us
  • Similar anterior teeth
  • Reduced premolars and molars


Limbs and locomotion -

  • Bipedal
  • Human like hands and feet
  • Diverse body size (Large sexual dimorphism)


Opportunistic tools

5 to 2.5 Million Years Ago

Manuports – Unaltered objects carried some distance before use

  • If the rock is not indigenous to the site, then it was brought to the site by them because the stones had certain qualities that made them good enough to be carried
  • Chimpanzees have culture too
  • What is it about tools that sets the genus ‘homo’ apart? Its thought that australopithecines did have tools that they used for defense or food acquisition – Considered to be opportunistic tools
  • Limited/no modification of the artifact but is used for some kind of behavior

Different from genus homo – Standardized tool tech VS Opportunistic tools

  • You get a recognizable tool in standard technology and has a specific purpose – Shows encephalization
  • Made in a particular method of production
  • Good example of evolution of tools and become more complex and increase in no and specificity as they move down to us
  • Can be identified specifically at homo sites


Lower Paleolithic (Early Stone Age)

  • Beginning of the genus homo
  • Coincides with an increased brain and good manual dexterity
  • Approximately 2.5 Million Years Ago
  • Important in brain evolution
  • Emphasizes manual dexterity
  • Requires a complex , abstract thought process – remember stone example
  • In Africa – the earliest of our genus started to walk around and make tools
  • Went to river beds and looked for water worn cobbles because they are small and easy to work with
  • Direct percussion method – Directly hitting the surface
  • Piece that is broken off – flake
  • Becomes more important than the core
  • Stone ages refer to African sites
  • Lithic generally refer to Middle East and Europe

ESA – Early stone age

MSA – Middle stone age

LSA – Late stone age


Oldowan industrial complex

  • Earliest identifiable stone tools
  • Characterized by oldowan chopping tool
  • All puporse chopping tool
  • Ade from smooth water worn cobbles
  • Multi – purpose
  • Butcher meat
  • Split bones
  • Defense
  • 2.5 to 1.4 Million Years Ago

Sites

  • Lake Turkana
  • Olduvai Gorge
  • Hadar
  • Omo
  • Found wherever homo is
  • First appeared 2.5 Million Years Ago


Hard hammered method/ percussion method

Hammerstone – Bipolar percussion

  • Rock used to strike flakes off cobble
  • Good example of encaphalisation
  • Increases meat protein in the diet
  • Group sharing
  • Scavenging
  • Saved time and labour for food acquisition
  • Probably resulted from an adaptation to a new environment
  • Bipedalism freed hands

Anvil – Direct percussion

  • Large rock that you strike the cobble against


Homo erectus - What is the first homo species found outside Africa?

  • The FIRST one to be found out of Africa
  • African origin
  • Impressive longevity
  • Extensive geography spread throughout old world
  • Did not disappear completely until 10 000 years ago
  • Appeared 1.8 million years ago


Marking of the beginning of the next epoch – Pleistocene (Ice Age)

  • Huge drop in temperature
  • Continents move away from equator
  • Tundra like environment

First find

  • Eugene Dubois 1891
  • Trinil, Java
  • Femur
  • Pithecanthropus erectus

Java Sites

  • 1.8 Million Years Ago to 500,000 Years Ago – Debateable

Zhoukoudian, China

  • Gunnar Andersson
  • Pei Wenshong
  • Davidson Black – Came to CA and passed the collection to the bottom one
  • Franz Weinreich – Made casts before shipping them to the US
  • Best collection of 600,000 – 300,000 year old hominoids ever found
  • Minimum 40 individuals found in these cave sites – Adult emales, males and subadults
  • 1000 cc average – Significantly larger
  • Australopithecines – 300-500
  • > 100,000 artifacts


East African H. erectus (Homo ergaster)

Nariokotome, W Turkana

  • Fossil KNM-WT 15000 - Narikotome boy
  • Most complete individual of his species
  • Boy ~12 yrs old
  • Stature 5’3”
  • Post-cranial similar to modern humans
  • 880 cc – Could have been 1000 cc by the time he grew up
  • 1984 kamoya kimeu
  • Thinner, longer limbs than erectus
  • More gracile
  • Taller and lankier
  • Asian tend to be stalkier, thicker bone
  • African erectus have different morphology than ergaster


Characteristics of Homo Erectus

Cranial anatomy

  • 1000 cc average
  • Range 780 – 1225 cc
  • Unique feature – Sagittal keel
  • Nuchal torus
  • Robust jaw
  • Supraorbital torus – supra – above ; orbit – eyes
  • Low cranial vault
  • Wide at base from behind – important because of brain development
  • Pentagonal shape to its head
  • Post cranial
  • Similar to modern humans
  • Robust limb bones
  • Narrow hips
  • < Sex dimorphism than Habilis
  • Conical rib cage
  • Stature - Human range


Erectus in Europe or Africa?

Dmanisi , Georgia

  • Homo georgicus
  • Homo naledi
  • South Africa
  • At least 15 individuals
  • Cranial – 513 cc
  • Sagittal keel, supraorbital torus – Mixture
  • Post – cranial
  • Human hands and feet
  • Australopithecines - Trunk, shoulder, pelvis


Acheulean tool tradition

  • 1st appeared 1 Million Years Ago in East Africa

Handaxe - Biface

  • Pear shaped/ pointed
  • Fully conceived implements
  • Significant step in conceptualization
  • NOT found in Southeast Asia
  • Tool diversification
  • Cleavers
  • Handaxe with a straight cutting edge
  • Butcher meat, chopping, breaking bones
  • Flat tools
  • Strike a flint core with a hammerstone

Late Acheulean

Soft hammer percussion (hard hammer percussion – Oldwan)

  • Involved using a bone


The chopping tool tradition

  • Developed by erectus in Asia
  • 460,000 – 230,000 years ago
  • Oldwan is NOT found in Asia – only Africa
  • Questions about Asia – Homo erectus
  • More reminiscent of oldwan


Movius line

Geological line down Asia in which bamboo grows in Asia but not Africa

  • Bamboo has a very good cutting edge but doesn’t have the longevity of rocks
  • Thru ethnoarch, many communities in China still use bamboos for their kitchen utensils
  • Idea of the different food resources
  • Divides acheulean and non-acheulean regions
  • Bose site, South China
  • Challenges movius hypothesis
  • Different functional requirements
  • New dates from Java (1.8 million years ago)


Other accomplishments of homo erectus

  • Controlled use of fire
  • Evidence - 1.6 – 1.5 Million Years Ago
  • Koobi Fora and Chesowanja, Kenya
  • Fire makes meat more palatable
  • Keeps you warm
  • Keeps away predators
  • Huge cultural advancement

How do you differentiate a controlled use of fire from a wild fire?

  • Look for evidence of hearths for controlled use of fire
  • Homo erectus were primarily still scavengers
  • Communication – Protolanguage


Archaic Homo Sapiens – Homo Heidelbergensis and Neanderthals (Transitional forms)


Heidelbergensis

  • 800 – 600,000 years ago
  • Homo erectus gave rise to a bigger brained descendant
  • Probably occurred in Africa

Primitive features -

  • Prominent brow ridges
  • Robust jaw
  • Thick cranial bones
  • Pronounced neck mass
  • Receding forehead

Derived features (Homo erectus) -

  • Brain expansion (1212 cc avg)
  • Globular head shape
  • Decrease in molar size
  • Brow ridges curved
  • Decreased facial prognathism
  • Large broad nose
  • Reduced postorbital constriction
  • Wider cranial vault
  • No sagittal keel


Transitional sites

Spain

  • Pit of bones
  • Sima de los huesnos, atapuerca
  • 400,000 years ago
  • 32 individuals
  • 1125 – 1390 cc


Mauer, Heidelberg, Germany

  • Mauer mandible
  • HE – Robust, no chin
  • HS – modern tooth size
  • 500,000 years ago
  • Prototype specimen


Two Contentious Sites in Europe

  • Gran Dolina, Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain
  • 800 thousand years ago
  • Ceprano, Italy


Early homo heidelbergensis

  • 600 – 400 thousand years ago
  • Striking platform method

Lavallosian technique

Prepared core technique

  • Carefully preparing stone core then producing finished implement with a single blow
  • Chip core around sides and top
  • Tortoise core produced
  • Well aimed blow at one end
  • Detach flake of predetermined size and shape

Other cultural advancements

  • Hafting/Composite Tools
  • Attaching the tool to a handle
  • Small stone bifaces and flakes to handles of wood
  • Spears and knives
  • Comp tool – Tools made out of more than 1 material
  • Foreign Raw Materials
  • Stone > 300 Km from source
  • Yellow and red pigments (Iron oxide)
  • Common in Africa
  • Ritual
  • Neanderthals probably started colouring the dead – Belief in the afterlife


Neanderthals

  • Europe and West Asia

Boule – found individual that

  • Analyzed his locomotion to be more like a gorilla
  • Evidence of empathy
  • Suffered from severe spinal arthiritis
  • 1600 cc

Cranial

  • Low vault
  • Receding forehead
  • No chin
  • Prominent brow ridges

Post Cranial

  • Robust limb bones
  • Stocky build – Bergmans rule
  • Shortened forearm and shin bone
  • Long, flattened pubic bones – May be related to child bearing
  • Common ancestor of Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens – Homo Heidlebergensis

Derived

  • Curved brow ridges
  • Large brain

Unique

  • Mid face projection
  • Occipital bun
  • Large sinus for heating air
  • Powerful jaw
  • Large anterior teeth
  • Large, wide nose


Sites

  • Europe – La chapelle aux saints
  • Evidence of intentional burial
  • Southwest Asia
  • Kabara, Israel – Hyoid bone evidence
  • Tehik – tash , uzbek – juvenile boy and goat horns all around his head
  • Suggest cultural burial


Mousterian tradition

Radial core technique

  • Smaller flakes of standard size
  • More flakes per core than levallois

Tool adaptations related to cold adaptation – Close quarter hunters

  • Humans are distance quarter hunters
  • Change in diet
  • Increase in meat, decrease in vegetation
  • Increase in hunting
  • Decreased mobility
  • Greater depth of Mousterian sites
  • More social organism
  • Cooperation for shared accommodation and large game hunting


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