Factson Human Evolution
Australopithecusafarensis are referred to as the southern ape while Homo erectus werereferred to as the upright man. Both the Australopithecus afarensisand Homo erectus are the ancestors of the modern human beings.Australopithecus afarensis lived around 5.8 – 4.4 million years agowhile the Homo erectus lived from around 1.89 million years ago toaround 143, 000 years ago. Australopithecus afarensis lived Kenya,Tanzania, and Ethiopia. However, the Homo erectus lived in Kenya,South Africa, China, Java, and Spain. Australopithecus afarensispreferred the woodlands and grassland habitation because they wouldbe able to climb from one tree to another. Also, they had the abilityto walk upright. However, the Homo erectus preferred the opengrassland. The Australopithecus afarensis had a combination of apeand human characteristic. On the other hand, the Homo erectus werethe early humans.
Australopithecusafarensis had a small brain size around 500cc, which was a third thesize of a normal human brain. The Homo erectus had a larger brainsize nearing that of modern humans, which were around 750 to 1250cc.The physical body size of Australopithecus afarensis was around 4.3to 4.9 feet for an adult male. The female’s height was around 3.4to 4.1 feet. However, the Homo erectus height was around 4.9 to 6.1feet. Both Australopithecus afarensis and Homo erectus ate fruits andplants. However, the Homo erectus would also eat raw or cooked meatand chewed bones. Australopithecus afarensis and Homo erectus wereboth gathers(Tattersall 141).However, the Homo erectus were also hunters. Both of them used stonetools. However, Australopithecus afarensis tools were simple whileHomo erectus tools were complex. The Homo erectus also made toolsusing bamboo. They both used the tools to chop wood, dig up bulbs androots, and to crack of small bones and nuts. Also, the Homo erectusused tools to killing animals.
Someof the primary characteristics that contributed to the evolution ofthe genus Homo are that their brains were larger compared toAustralopithecus. Also, their jaws and face were smaller and reducedcompared to Australopithecus. The Homo genus relied so much onmaterial culture or cultural adaptation for them to survive. One ofthe material culture characteristics that were evident in all theHomo species is their use of stone tools. To add on, some of the Homospecies used hunting and fire as their form of material culture. Allthe Homo species demonstrated their capability to adjust to differentcircumstances, environment and were behavioral flexible. Thecompeting species during the Homo genus period were the Homo habilis,Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, Homoneanderthalensis, and Homo sapiens.
Theprimary physiological developments included the increase inintelligence and brain size. There was a reduction of teeth, face andjaw size between the different homo species. There was an increase oftechnology and tool use. For example, the Oldowan tools that wereused by the Homo habilis were replaced with more sophisticated Homoerectus tools. Also, the Homo species developed to be predators,whereby they hunted for meat. They used fire to be able to cook food.They also increased body wise to the modern human with short arms andlong legs.
Someof the advantages the physiological development brought thesophisticated tools recognized as the Acheulian tools that madegathering and hunting for food easier. It is because they would usethe tools to digging up roots and bulbs, crack nuts, chop wood. Also,they would use the tools to kill the animals they hunted. They wereable to use fire to cook meals. Also, the use of fire provided forthem warmth. It enabled them to adapt and move to colder regionsworldwide.
Around1924, Professor Raymond Dart found the remains of a skull that hadexploded from a limestone quarry nearby. The professor tookapproximately 73 days to chip the remains out from the surroundingstones. The teacher also took four years of his free time to separatethe fossilized brain and the jaw. In 1925, Dart called the remainsAustralopithecus africanus meaning a southern ape found in Africa.The reason was it had a small head size. The teeth showed that theremains were around four years old. Dart resolved that remains mustbe in-between the humans and the apes. The reason for his conclusionwas based on the position and shape of brain cast’s base. The skullhad a hole that the spinal cord passed through pointing downwards butplaced almost at the center. Also, the fossil had short canine teeth.Other paleoanthropologists rejected the claim. They said that it wasa normal ape. However in 1940’s it was accepted.
Around1965 to 1983 C.K. Brain re-investigated the Swartkrans cave anddiscovered around 130 hominies. The bones were from Paranthropoidsand Australopithecus, Homo and the carnivores. He also discoveredaround 30 stools distance away from the cave and concluded they wereweapons or tools used by the species (Tattersall17).Also, the presence of the tools is an indication that not all of thespecies were killed by the carnivorous animals but lived there.
In1930, Mary Louis Leakey found stone tools in a place called Olduvaiand it’s surrounding(Tattersall 187).However, were unable to determine who made them. In 1959, Mary wasworking as usual whereby she discovered a skull and upper teeth of ahominid. The remains resembled those that had earlier been discoveredin 1924 by Raymond Dart. They named the skull Zinjanthropus Boise,which was later referred to as Paranthropus Boise. They were able todetermine that the remains were around 1.7 million years ago.
Thefindings help us know the whole development that our family tree orancestors went through to grow into the modern human beings we knowtoday. Most of the discoveries were accepted as hominid fossilbecause we are biologically similar. They both had two legs and canwalk upright.
Australopithecusspecies are believed to be ancestors to the homo today. Homorhodesiensis also referred to as Homo heidelbergensis, and theAustralopithecus species are branches of the species that are nowextinct.
Tattersall,Ian. Thefossil trail: How we know what we think we know about humanevolution.Oxford University Press, USA, 2009.