Evolution
Evolution of mankind.
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Millions of Years
  4.0 4.5 3.0 2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 0.3 0.2 0.0  
  Australopithecus Ramidus       Homo Habilis Homo Erectus Homo Sapiens Homo Sapiens Sapiens
      Australopithecus Africanus       Homos Sapiens Neanderthal
  Australopithecus Afarensis   Australopithecus Robustus
4.0Ardipithecus ramidus.

This species was named in September 1994 (White et al. 1994; Wood 1994).
It was originally dated at 4.4 million years, but has since been discovered to far back as 5.8 million years.
Most remains are skull fragments.

Indirect evidence suggests that it was possibly bipedal, and that some individuals were about 122 cm (4'0") tall.
The teeth are intermediate between those of earlier apes and A. afarensis, but one baby tooth
is very primitive, resembling a chimpanzee tooth more than any other known hominid tooth.
Other fossils found with ramidus indicate that it may have been a forest dweller.
This may cause revision of current theories about why hominids became bipedal, which often
link bipedalism with a move to a savannah environment.
(White and his colleagues have since discovered a ramidus skeleton which is about 45% complete, but have not yet published on it.)

4.5Australopithecus afarensis.

A. afarensis existed between 3.9 and 3.0 million years ago. Afarensis had an apelike face with a low
forehead, a bony ridge over the eyes, a flat nose, and no chin. They had protruding jaws with large back teeth.
Cranial capacity varied from about 375 to 550 cc. The skull is similar to that of a chimpanzee, except for
the more humanlike teeth.
The canine teeth are much smaller than those of modern apes, but larger and more pointed than those of
humans, and shape of the jaw is between the rectangular shape of apes and the parabolic shape of humans.
However their pelvis and leg bones far more closely resemble those of modern man, and leave no doubt that
they were bipedal (although adapted to walking rather than running (Leakey 1994)).
Their bones show that they were physically very strong. Females were substantially smaller than males, a
condition known as sexual dimorphism. Height varied between about 107 cm (3'6") and 152 cm (5'0").
The finger and toe bones are curved and proportionally longer than in humans, but the hands are similar to
humans in most other details (Johanson and Edey 1981).
Most scientists consider this evidence that afarensis was still partially adapted to climbing in trees,
others consider it evolutionary baggage.
3.0Australopithecus africanus.

A. africanus existed between 3 and 2 million years ago.
It is similar to afarensis, and was also bipedal, but body size was slightly greater.
Brain size may also have been slightly larger, ranging between 420 and 500 cc.
This is a little larger than chimp brains (despite a similar body size), but still not advanced in the
areas necessary for speech. The back teeth were a little bigger than in afarensis. Although the teeth and
jaws of africanus are much larger than those of humans, they are far more similar to human teeth than to
those of apes (Johanson and Edey 1981).
The shape of the jaw is now fully parabolic, like that of humans, and the size of the canine teeth is
further reduced compared to afarensis.
2.5Australopithecus aethiopicus.

A. aethiopicus existed between 2.6 and 2.3 million years ago.
This species is known from one major specimen, the Black Skull discovered by Alan Walker, and a few other
minor specimens which may belong to the same species.
It may be an ancestor of robustus and boisei, but it has a baffling mixture of primitive and advanced traits.
The brain size is very small, at 410 cc, and parts of the skull, particularly the hind portions, are very
primitive, most resembling afarensis. Other characteristics, like the massiveness of the face, jaws and
single tooth found, and the largest sagittal crest in any known hominid, are more reminiscent of
A. boisei (Leakey and Lewin 1992).
(A sagittal crest is a bony ridge on top of the skull to which chewing muscles attach.)
2.0Homo habilis.

H. habilis, "handy man", was so called because of evidence of tools found with its remains.
Habilis existed between 2.4 and 1.5 million years ago.
It is very similar to australopithecines in many ways.
The face is still primitive, but it projects less than in A. africanus.
The back teeth are smaller, but still considerably larger than in modern humans.
The average brain size, at 650 cc, is considerably larger than in australopithecines.
Brain size varies between 500 and 800 cc, overlapping the australopithecines at the low end and H. erectus at the high end.
The brain shape is also more humanlike.
The bulge of Broca's area, essential for speech, is visible in one habilis brain cast, and indicates it was possibly capable of rudimentary speech.
Habilis is thought to have been about 127 cm (5'0") tall, and about 45 kg (100 lb) in weight, although females may have been smaller.
1.5Australopithecus robustus.

A. robustus had a body similar to that of africanus, but a larger and more robust skull and teeth.
It existed between 2 and 1.5 million years ago.
The massive face is flat or dished, with no forehead and large brow ridges.
It has relatively small front teeth, but massive grinding teeth in a large lower jaw.
Most specimens have sagittal crests.
Its diet would have been mostly coarse, tough food that needed a lot of chewing.
The average brain size is about 530 cc.
Bones excavated with robustus skeletons indicate that they may have been used as digging tools.
1.0Ustralopithecus boisei (was Zinjanthropus boisei).

A. boisei existed between 2.1 and 1.1 million years ago.
It was similar to robustus, but the face and cheek teeth were even more massive, some molars being up to 2
cm across. The brain size is very similar to robustus, about 530 cc.
A few experts consider boisei and robustus to be variants of the same species.

Australopithecus aethiopicus, robustus and boisei are known as robust australopithecines, because their
skulls in particular are more heavily built. They have never been serious candidates for being direct human
ancestors. Many authorities now classify them in the genus Paranthropus.
0.5Homo erectus.

H. erectus existed between 1.8 million and 300,000 years ago.
Like habilis, the face has protruding jaws with large molars, no chin, thick brow ridges, and a long low
skull, with a brain size varying between 750 and 1225 cc.
Early erectus specimens average about 900 ccwhile late ones have an average of about 1100 cc (Leakey 1994).
The skeleton is more robust than those of modern humans, implying greater strength.
Body proportions vary; the Turkana Boy is tall and slender (though still extraordinarily strong), like
modern humans from the same area, while the few limb bones found of Peking Man indicate a shorter, sturdier build.
Study of the Turkana Boy skeleton indicates that erectus may have been more efficient at walking than
modern humans, whose skeletons have had to adapt to allow for the birth of larger-brained infants (Willis 1989).
Homo habilis and all the australopithecines are found only in Africa, but erectus was wide-ranging, and has
been found in Africa, Asia, and Europe.
There is evidence that erectus probably used fire, and their stone tools are more sophisticated than those of habilis.
0.3Homo sapiens (archaic) (also Homo heidelbergensis).

Archaic forms of Homo sapiens first appear about 500,000 years ago.
The term covers a diverse group of skulls which have features of both Homo erectus and modern humans.
The brain size is larger than erectus and smaller than most modern humans, averaging about 1200 cc, and the
skull is more rounded than in erectus.
The skeleton and teeth are usually less robust than erectus, but more robust than modern humans.
Many still have large brow ridges and receding foreheads and chins.
There is no clear dividing line between late erectus and archaic sapiens, and many fossils between 500,000
and 200,000 years ago are difficult to classify as one or the other.
0.2Homo sapiens sapiens (modern).

Modern forms of Homo sapiens first appear about 195,000 years ago.
Modern humans have an average brain size of about 1350 cc.
The forehead rises sharply, eyebrow ridges are very small or more usually absent, the chin is prominent,
and the skeleton is very gracile. About 40,000 years ago, with the appearance of the Cro-Magnon culture,
tool kits started becoming markedly more sophisticated, using a wider variety of raw materials such as bone
and antler, and containing new implements for making clothing, engraving and sculpting.
Fine artwork, in the form of decorated tools, beads, ivory carvings of humans and animals, clay figurines,
musical instruments, and spectacular cave paintings appeared over the next 20,000 years. (Leakey 1994)

Even within the last 100,000 years, the long-term trends towards smaller molars and decreased robustness can be discerned.
The face, jaw and teeth of Mesolithic humans (about 10,000 years ago) are about 10% more robust than ours.
Upper Paleolithic humans (about 30,000 years ago) are about 20 to 30% more robust than the modern condition in Europe and Asia.
These are considered modern humans, although they are sometimes termed "primitive". Interestingly, some
modern humans (aboriginal Australians) have tooth sizes more typical of archaic sapiens.
The smallest tooth sizes are found in those areas where food-processing techniques have been used for the longest time.
This is a probable example of natural selection which has occurred within the last 10,000 years (Brace 1983).
0.0
 
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Source references: HumanEvolution , Hominid Species
 
 

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