Evolution Man Picture Encyclopedia Neanderthal Boisei Habilis Australopithecus For Sale
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Evolution Man Picture Encyclopedia Neanderthal Boisei Habilis Australopithecus:
The Pictorial Encyclopedia of The Evolution of Man by J. Jelinek.
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DESCRIPTION: Hardcover with Dust Jacket: 551 pages. Publisher: The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited; (1975). Size: 8¾ x 6 x 1¾ inches; 2¾ pounds.
SUMMARY: In this encyclopedia Dr. Jelinek outlines many of the discoveries that have led to the unraveling of Man's origins and development. This exciting topic is treated here in four main sections. Firstly, the author places Man in the context of the zoological classification including his relationships with monkeys and apes. Dr. Jelinek builds up a fascinating picture of how Man has evolved from primitive ape-like creatures to more advanced forms such as Neanderthal-man. The following three sections show how Man has learned to make use of fire, to make and use tools for hunting, to build dwellings more advanced than just holes in a cliff, and finally how he has expressed himself throughout history in painting, sculpture, and jewelry.
CONDITION: VERY GOOD (PLUS). Lightly/partially read hardcover w/dustjacket. Hamlyn (1975) 552 pages. Seems most likely that only the first 70-80 pages of the book were read. I'd guess someone then flipped through the photographic plates, which are at the end of the book. The plates show stone age artifacts, The center portion of the book seems entirely unread. It appears as if someone read the first 75 pages, flipped through the last pages within the book, then put the book away never to be actually read "through". In the worst case the book may have been read once, by someone with an exceedingly light "footprint". Inside the book is almost pristine. The pages are clean, crisp, unmarked, unmutilated, and remain tightly bound. HOWEVER there is a small, rough spot on the front end paper (that's the paper covering of the underside of the front cover) where I'd guess there was once a price sticker, which was torn off and left a "scar" where the adhesive tore off some of the paper "skin". I'd nonetheless guess that only the first 70-80 pages were actually read. Dustjacket evidences only very, very mild edge and corner shelfwear which is principally evidenced as faint crinkling to the edges. Even then you really need to hold the book up to a light source and scrutinize the book fairly closely to discern this. There are no tears, chips, etc. It's a remarkably clean and intact dustjacket given its age. Beneath the dustjacket the brown full cloth covers are clean and without significant blemish. Overall a very clean, solid, handsome book, perhaps not quite a "shelf trophy", but likely only partially read and considering its age, very clean. Satisfaction unconditionally guaranteed. In stock, ready to ship. No disappointments, no excuses. PROMPT SHIPPING! HEAVILY PADDED, DAMAGE-FREE PACKAGING! Selling rare and out-of-print ancient history books on-line since 1997. We accept returns for any reason within 30 days! #939L.
PLEASE SEE IMAGES BELOW FOR JACKET DESCRIPTION(S) AND FOR PAGES OF PICTURES FROM INSIDE OF BOOK.
PLEASE SEE PUBLISHER, PROFESSIONAL, AND READER REVIEWS BELOW.
REVIEW: With 860 illustrations in black & white and color. Bibliography. Index.
REVIEW: Outlines many of the discoveries that have lead to the unraveling of humankind's origins and development. Well illustrated. Includes some stunning photographs of Czech and Ukranian Palaeolithic material and sites. Truly encyclopedic.
REVIEW: Fascinating for the many illustrations of the very rich Paleolithic sites of Eastern Europe, many not seen before in the West. An exceptional account of the rise of the species known as “Man” from varied perspectives. A very thorough and extensively illustrated account. What a magnificent production! Not only a detailed and complete examination of the ascent of mankind, but extremely readable as well. This is truly an epic story told in the grand style.
REVIEW: Not too many books cover the art of early man so this book is very good even for its age.
STONE AGE HOMININS (PART ONE):
Homo habilis - Homo rudolfensis - Homo ergaster - Homo erectus - Homo antecessorHomo heidelbergensis - Homo neanderthalensis – Homo denisovan – Homo floresiensis - Homo sapiens.
Homo habilis: Homo habilis ("handy man") is a species of archaic human from the Early Pleistocene of East and South Africa. Remains are dated to about 2.3 to 1.65 million years ago. The initial species description in 1964 was highly contested. Many researchers at the time insisted Homo habilis be synonymized with Australopithecus africanus. Australopithecus africanus was the only other early hominin known at the time. However Homo habilis received more recognition as time went on and more relevant discoveries were made. By the 1980s Homo habilis was proposed to have been a human ancestor. Researchers suggested Homo habilis evolved directly into Homo erectus, in turn which directly led to modern humans.
This viewpoint is now contentious. Several specimens with insecure identification were assigned to Homo habilis, leading to arguments for splitting the specimens into "Homo rudolfensis" and "Homo gautengensis". Only the classification of Homo rudolfensis has received wide support from researchers. Homo habilis brain size generally varied from 500 to 900. The body proportions of Homo habilis are only known from two extremely fragmentary skeletons. So calculations are based largely on assuming similar anatomy to the earlier australopithecines. Because of this many researchers have proposed Homo habilis be moved to the genus Australopithecus as Australopithecus habilis.
The interpretation of Homo habilis as a small-stature human with inefficient long distance travel capabilities has been challenged. A presumed female specimen is traditionally interpreted as having been between 3 feet, 3 inches and 3 feet, 11 inches in height and between 44 and 82 pounds in weight. However if more humanlike proportions were used as a basis for these calculations, the dimensions would be more like 4 feet, 10 inches in height and around 77 pounds in weight. Regardless of dimensions Homo habilis may have been at least partially arboreal like what is postulated for australopithecines.
Early hominins are typically reconstructed as having thick hair and marked sexual dimorphism with males much larger than females. This is despite the fact that relative male and female size is speculative and not definitively known. Homo habilis manufactured Oldowan industry stone tools, principally using the stones as aids to butchering animals carcasses. Compared to australopithecines early Homo species are generally thought to have consumed high quantities of meat. In he case of Homo habilis it is believed that this was principally scavenged meat.
Typically early hominins are interpreted as having lived in polygynous societies. This too however is highly speculative. Assuming Homo habilis society was similar to that of modern savanna chimps and baboons, groups may have numbered 70–85 members. Multiple males would have defended against open savanna predators, such as big cats, hyenas and crocodiles. Homo habilis co-existed with Homo rudolfensis, Homo ergaster and/or Homo erectus, and Paranthropus boisei.
The first recognized Homo habilis remains were a partial juvenile skull, hand, and foot bones dating to 1.75 million years ago. They were discovered in 1960 in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, in 1960 by Jonathan Leakey. However unrecognized remains predated those. The actual first remains consisting of a molar were discovered by the senior assistant of Louis and Mary Leakey (Jonathan's parents) in 1959. However it was not realized at the time that the molar belonged to a new species, Homo habilis. By the time of the 1959 discovery Louis and Mary Leakey had spent 29 years excavating in Olduvai Gorge for early hominin remains, but had instead recovered mainly other animal remains as well as stone tools evidencing the Oldowan stone tool industry.
The Oldowan stone tool industry had been ascribed to Paranthropus boisei, known at the time as "Zinjanthropus". In 1959 Paranthropus boisei was the first and only hominin recovered in the area. However this situation changed of course with the discovery of fossils attributable to Homo habilis. In 1964 palaeoanthropologists and primatologists officially assigned the remains into the genus Homo. On the recommendation of anthropologists the specific name Homo habilis. Homo habilis meant "able, handy, mentally skillful, vigorous" in Latin. At that point in time the Oldowan stone tool industry was considered evidence of advanced cognitive ability. The association of Homo habilis with the Oldowan was also used as justification for classifying it into Homo.
After being classified it was hotly debated amongst researchers if Homo habilis should be reclassified into Australopithecus africanus. This was in part because the remains were so old and at the time Homo was presumed to have evolved in Asia. Furthermore Australopithecus africanus was the only other early hominin known at the time, and australopithecines had no descendants. As well Homo habilis brain size was smaller than what palaeoanthropologists proposed in 1955 as a minimum for Homo species. However the classification Homo habilis began to receive wider acceptance as more fossil elements and species were unearthed.
In 1983 palaeaoanthropologists proposed that Australopithecus africanus was a direct ancestor of Paranthropus and Homo (the two were sister populations). Further they proposed that Australopithecus africanus evolved into Homo habilis, which in turn evolved into Homo erectus. Home erectus in turn evolved into modern humans. All of these evolutions were attributed to a process of cladogenesis, or diversion/splitting off. A further proposition was that there was a major evolutionary leap between Australopithecus africanus and Homo habilis. Thereafter it was proposed that human evolution progressed gradually because Homo habilis brain size had already nearly doubled compared to australopithecine predecessors.
However at that time the oldest Homo habilis specimen was very similar to the younger specimens, implying that there was no evolutionary progression between two widely spaced specimens. Many palaeoanthropologists had accepted the model proposed. Late Pliocene to Early Pleistocene hominin remains outside the range of Paranthropus and Homo erectus had been classified into Homo habilis. For non-skull elements this was done on the basis of size as there was a lack of clear diagnostic characteristics. Because of this practice the range of variation for the species became quite wide. The terms Homo habilis sensu stricto ("in the strict sense") and Homo habilis sensu lato ("in the broad sense") were in use to include and exclude, respectively, more discrepant morphs.
To address this wide variation in Homo habilis characteristics palaeoanthropologists in 1985 suggest the existence of a differential species. The comparatively massive skull from Lake Turkana, Kenya discovered in 1972 had been assigned to Homo habilis. Palaeoanthropologists suggested these fossils actually represented a different species, now known as Homo rudolfensis (Lake Turkana used to be known as Lake Rudolf). To the contrary other palaeoanthropologists argued that rather than a new species the larger Lake Turkana specimen was a male specimen, whereas other Homo habilis specimens were female. Sexual dimorphicism would account for the variation of size within the same species.
These palaeoanthropologists have suggested that all early Homo from South Africa can be accounted for with the classifications Homo habilis or Homo ergaster and/or Homo erectus. However in 2010 archaeologists proposed splitting off South African early Homo into a new species, Homo gautengensis. In 1986 a fragmentary skeleton had been discovered by American anthropologists in association with Homo habilis skull fragments. For the first time aspects of Homo habilis skeletal anatomy were definitively established. The skeletal remains revealed more Australopithecus-like than Homo-like features.
Because of this revelation as well as similarities in dental characteristics palaeaoanthropologists in 1999 suggested reclassifying Homo habilis to Australopithecus. However subsequent reevaluation of a more humanlike physiology, if correct, would cast doubt on this. Then came the discovery of the 1.8 million year old Georgian Dmanisi skulls in the early 2000s. These skulls exhibit several similarities with early Homo. This has led palaeoanthropologists to suggest that all contemporary groups of early Homo in Africa are the same species and should be reclassified as Homo erectus. This would include Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis.
There is still no wide consensus as to whether or not Homo habilis is ancestral to Homo ergaster and/or Homo erectus. It’s a hotly debated whether Homo habilis is an offshoot of the human line. It’s also contested as to whether or not all specimens assigned to Homo habilis are correctly assigned. Some argue that Homo habilis is nothing more than an assemblage of different Australopithecus and Homo species. Nonetheless Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis generally are recognized members of the genus at the base of the Homo family tree. Arguments for synonymization or removal of Homo habilis from the genus not widely adopted.
Though it is now largely agreed upon that Homo evolved from Australopithecus, the timing and placement of this split has been much debated. Many different Australopithecus species have been proposed as the ancestor for Homo habilis. The oldest Homo specimen ever discovered was dated to 2.8 million years ago. The species this oldest Homo discovery is attributable to is unclear. It was found in the Afar Region of Ethiopia. It could be the ancestor of Homo habilis, but this is uncertain. However the discovery may indicate that Homo habilis may have evolved from Australopithecus afarensis around this time.
The oldest specimen positively classified as Homo habilis dates to 2.3 million years ago. However the specimen is anatomically more derived. It possesses less ancestral, or basal, traits than younger specimens. This suggests that both derived and basal morphs or variations thereof lived concurrently. This would confirm that the Homo habilis lineage began before 2.3 million years ago. Based on 2.1 million year old stone tools from Shangchen, China, Homo habilis or an ancestral species may have dispersed across Asia. The youngest Homo habilis specimen dates to about 1.65 million years ago.
It has generally been thought that brain size increased along the human line especially rapidly at the transition between species. Homo habilis brain size was smaller than that of the succeeding Homo ergaster and/or Homo erectus. Brain size jumped from about 600 to 650cc in Homo habilis to about 900 to 1,000cc in Homo ergaster and Homo erectus. However a 2015 study showed that the brain sizes of Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis, and Homo ergaster generally ranged between 500 and 900 cc. Australopithecine brain size generally ranged from 400 to 500cc. The brain anatomy of all Homo features an expanded cerebrum in comparison to australopithecines.
A right-slanting pattern of striations on the teeth one Homo habilis specimen may have been accidentally self-inflicted. The individual may have been pulling a piece of meat with its teeth and the left hand, while at the same time trying to cut it with a stone tool using the right hand. If correct this could indicate right handedness, which is associated with major reorganization of the brain and the lateralization of brain function between the left and right hemispheres. This scenario has also been hypothesized for some Neanderthal specimens.
Lateralization could be implicated in tool use. In modern humans lateralization is weakly associated with language. The tooth rows of Homo habilis were V-shaped as opposed to U-shaped in later Homo. The mouth jutted outwards, though the face was flat from the nose up. Based on fragmentary skeletons of individuals believed to be male and female, Homo habilis body anatomy has generally been considered to have been more apelike than even that of the earlier Australopithecus afarensis. This would be consistent with an at least partially arboreal lifestyle in the trees as is assumed in australopithecines.
Based on the fragmentary skeletal remains described above and assuming comparable body dimensions to australopithecines, Homo habilis has generally been interpreted as having been small-bodied like australopithecines. The typical Homo habilis is generally estimated at about 3 feet, 3 inches to 3 feet, 11 inches in height and 44 to 82 pounds in weight. However assuming longer, modern humanlike legs the height might be more like 4 feet, 10 inches and the weight average about 77 pounds. In comparison modern human men and women in the year 1900 averaged 5 feet, 4 inches and 5 feet respectively.
It is generally assumed that pre-Homo ergaster hominins, including Homo habilis, exhibited notable sexual dimorphism. If this assumption is true, males would be markedly larger than females. However this is mere assumption as relative female body mass is unknown in this species. Homo habilis like other early hominins are thought to have had thick body hair coverage like modern non-human apes. This is in part because they appear to have inhabited cooler regions. They are also thought to have had a less active lifestyle than (presumed hairless) post-ergaster species. Given those circumstances they probably required thick body hair to stay warm.
Based on dental development rates, Homo habilis is assumed to have had an accelerated growth rate compared to modern humans. The growth rate imputed would have been more like that of modern non-human apes. The arms of Homo habilis and australopithecines have generally been considered to have been proportionally long and so adapted for climbing and swinging. However the humerus to femur ratio many of both Homo habilis and Australopithecus afarensis specimens have been within the range of variation for modern humans, so it may be unsafe to assume apelike proportions. Nonetheless the humerus to femur ratio of some specimens has been outside of the variation range for modern humans, closer to the proportion seen in chimps.
The hand bones of Homo habilis suggest precision gripping, important in dexterity, as well as adaptations for climbing. In regard to the femur, traditionally comparisons to australopithecines have been used to reconstruct stout legs for Homo habilis. However the more gracile femur of either Homo ergaster and/or Homo erectus or Paranthropus boisei may be a more apt comparison. Were this to be the case then Homo habilis would have had longer, humanlike legs. Homo habilis would have been an effective long-distance traveler as is assumed to have been the case with respect to Homo ergaster. However estimating the unpreserved length of a fossil is highly problematic.
The thickness of the limb bones of some Homo habilis specimens are more similar to chimps than Homo ergaster and/or Homo erectus and modern humans. This may indicate different load bearing capabilities more suitable for arboreality in Homo habilis. The strong fibula is more like that of non-human apes, and consistent with arboreality and vertical climbing. The feet are better suited for terrestrial movement than the foot of Australopithecus afarensis, though they still retain many apelike features consistent with climbing. However the foot has projected toe boned and compacted mid-foot joint structures, which restrict rotation between the foot and ankle as well as at the front foot.
Foot stability enhances the efficiency of force transfer between the leg and the foot and vice versa. It is a vital component in the plantar arch elastic spring mechanism which generates energy while running (but not walking). This could possibly indicate Homo habilis was capable of some degree of endurance running. This characteristic is typically believed to have evolved later in Homo ergaster and/or Homo erectus. The evidence suggests that it may have developed earlier in the evolution of Homo.
Traditionally Homo ergaster and/or Homo erectus is considered to have been the first human to have lived in a monogamous society. It is believed by most researchers that all preceding hominins were polygynous. However it is extremely difficult to speculate with any confidence the group dynamics of early hominins. The issue lies with the degree of sexual dimorphism and the size disparity between males and females. On this basis alone researchers draw a correlation between polygyny with high disparity and monogamy with low disparity based on general trends seen in modern primates. There are some exceptions to this correlation,. But in general this is an accurate description of the methodology used in speculating on general prevalence of monogamy.
However determination of rates of sexual dimorphism are problematic and uncertain due to the fact that early hominin anatomy is not well established. What little is known is largely based on merely a few specimens. In some cases the sex attributable to remains is in large part based on perceived size and apparent robustness. This methodology is employed in the absence of more reliable elements in sex identification (namely the pelvis).
Imputed mating behaviors are also based on dental anatomy. But early hominins possess a mosaic anatomy of different traits not seen together in modern primates. The enlarged cheek teeth would suggest marked size-related dimorphism. Thus behavior would include intense male to male conflict over mates and a polygynous society. However by the same measure, the small canines should indicate the opposite. Other selective pressures, including diet, can also dramatically impact dental anatomy. Dental anatomy is of questionable reliability in determining social behaviors.
The spatial distribution of tools and processed animal bones at Homo habilis sites in Olduvai Gorge indicate the inhabitants used this area as the group’s communal butchering and eating grounds. This would be in contrast to the nuclear family system of modern hunter gatherers where the group is subdivided into single family units. Each single family possesses their own “butchering” and eating grounds (kitchens and dining rooms). The behavior of early Homo is sometimes modeled on that of savanna chimps and baboons. This modeling would include Homo habilis.
These communities consist of several males (as opposed to a harem society). These males defend the group on the dangerous and exposed habitat. They sometimes engage in a group display of throwing sticks and stones against enemies and predators. Of the Homo habilis fossils found, the left foot of one appears to have been bitten off by a crocodile, possibly Crocodylus anthropophagus. The leg of another Homo habilis (or perhaps Paranthropus) specimens shows evidence of leopard predation. Homo habilis and contemporary hominins were likely preyed upon by other large carnivores of the time. These would have included in Olduvai Gorge the hunting hyena Chasmaporthetes nitidula, and the saber-toothed cats Dinofelis, and Megantereon.
In 1993 a study by palaeoanthropologists and evolutionary psychologists estimated that Homo habilis group size ranged from 70 to 85 members. This would place them on the upper end of chimp and baboon group size. Their estimates were based upon trends seen in neocortex size and group size in modern non-human primates. Homo habilis coexisted with Homo rudolfensis, Homo ergaster and/or Homo erectus, and Paranthropus boisei. It is unclear how all of these species interacted. It is typically thought that the diets of Homo habilis and other early Homo had a greater proportion of meat than Australopithecus, and that this led to brain growth. The main hypotheses regarding this are: meat is energy and nutrient-rich. This put evolutionary pressure on developing enhanced cognitive skills to facilitate strategic scavenging and monopolize fresh carcasses.
Meat allowed the large and calorie-expensive ape gut to decrease in size. This allowed energy otherwise expended in the gut to be diverted to brain growth. Alternatively it is also suggested that early Homo was adapting to a drying climate with scarcer food options. The adaptation was to rely primarily on underground storage organs (such as tubers) and food sharing. This facilitated social bonding among both male and female group members. However short-stature early Homo are generally considered to have been incapable of endurance running and hunting. The attributes were abilities imputed to Homo ergaster and later Homo, not to Homo habilis.
Organized hunting and gathering is thought to have emerged in Homo ergaster. The long and Australopithecus-like forearm of Homo habilis could indicate early Homo were still arboreal to a degree. The problem is then that the proposed food-gathering models which would be necessary to explain large brain growth would necessitate increased daily travel distance. This is contradicted by the physiology generally imputed by palaeoanthropologists to Homo habilis based on remains. However it has been argued by some paleontologists that Homo habilis may instead had possessed modern humanlike legs. This would mean that Homo habilis may have been fully capable of effective long distance travel, while still remaining at least partially arboreal.
Large incisor size in Homo habilis compared to Australopithecus predecessors implies this species relied on incisors more. The bodies of the mandibles of Homo habilis and other early Homo are thicker than those of modern humans and all living apes. The mandibles are more comparable to Australopithecus. The mandibular body resists torsion from the bite force or chewing. This means that Homo habilis jaws could produce unusually powerful stresses while eating. The greater molar cusp relief in Homo habilis compared to Australopithecus suggests the former used tools to fracture tough foods such as pliable plant parts or meat). Had this not been the case then the molar cusps would evidence greater wear than is present in the fossil record. Nonetheless the jaw adaptations for processing mechanically challenging food indicates technological advancement did not have a pronounced effect on diet.
It is thought Homo habilis derived meat from scavenging rather than hunting. The role attributed by palaeontologists has Homo habilis acting as a confrontational scavenger and stealing kills from smaller predators such as jackals or cheetahs. Fruit was likely also an important dietary component. This is indicated in the fossil record by dental erosion consistent with repetitive exposure to acidity. Based on dental microwear-texture analysis, Homo habilis likely did not regularly consume tough foods. This is consistent with the fossil record left by other early Homo species. On average Homo habilis microwear-texture complexity is somewhere between that of tough-food eaters and leaf eaters (folivores). This points to an increasingly generalized and omnivorous diet.
Homo habilis is associated with the Early Stone Age Oldowan stone tool industry. Individuals likely used these tools primarily to butcher and skin animals and crush bones. However the same tools may well have been sometimes used to and scrape wood and cut soft plants. Knappers appear to have carefully selected lithic cores. Homo habilis evidently knew that certain rocks would break in a specific way when struck hard enough and on the right spot. Homo habilis produced several different types of stone tools. These included choppers, polyhedrons, and discoids. Nonetheless it’s unlikely that specific shapes were conceived in advance. They probably simply stem from a lack of standardization in producing such tools. The dissimilar types of raw materials at the knappers' disposal would also have contributed to the variation in tool shape.
For example, spheroids are common at Olduvai which features an abundance of large and soft quartz and quartzite pieces. On the other hand Koobi Fora lacks spheroids and provides predominantly hard basalt lava rocks. Unlike the later Acheulean culture invented by Homo ergaster and/or Homo erectus, Oldowan technology does not require planning and foresight to manufacture. Consequently possession of the technology does not indicate high cognition in Oldowan knappers. It does require a degree of coordination and some knowledge of mechanics. Oldowan tools infrequently exhibit retouching and were probably in the main discarded immediately after use.
The Oldowan stone tool technology was first reported in 1934. However it was not until the 1960s that it became widely accepted as the earliest culture and that Oldowan stone tools were manufactured by Homo habilis. The technology/culture was dated to 1.8 million years ago. Since the 1960’s more discoveries have placed the origins of material culture substantially backwards in time. Oldowan stone tools have been discovered in Ledi-Geraru and Gona in Ethiopia dating to 2.6 million years ago. The culture/technology perhaps associated with the evolution of the genus.
Australopithecines are also known to have manufactured tools, such as the 3.3 million year old Lomekwi stone tool industry. There is also some evidence of butchering from about 3.4 million years ago. Nonetheless, the comparatively sharp-edged Oldowan culture was a major innovation from australopithecine technology. It would have permitted different feeding strategies and the ability to process a wider range of foods. This would have been very advantageous in the changing climate of the time. It is unclear if the Oldowan stone tool industry was independently invented or if it was the result of hominin experimentation with rocks over hundreds of thousands of years across multiple species.
In 1962 a 12 foot × 14 foot × 1 foot circle made with volcanic rocks was discovered in Olduvai Gorge. At 2 to 2½ foot intervals rocks were piled up 6 to 9 inches high. Mary Leakey suggested the rock piles were used to support poles stuck into the ground. This would possibly have been done so as to support a windbreak or a rough hut. Some modern day nomadic tribes build similar low-lying rock walls to build temporary shelters upon. The rock circles is used to contain bent upright branches used as poles. Grasses or animal hides were then placed atop the framework of bent poles as a covering screen. Dating to 1.75 million years ago, it is attributed to some early Homo genus, and is the oldest evidence of architecture discovered to date [Wikipedia].
Homo rudolfensis: Homo rudolfensis is a species of archaic human from the Early Pleistocene of East Africa dated to about 2 million years ago. Homo rudolfensis coexisted with several other hominins. Consequently is debated what specimens can be confidently assigned to this species beyond a few skulls discovered. No bodily remains are definitively assigned to Homo rudolfensis. Consequently both its generic classification and validity are debated without any wide consensus. There are even some recommending the species to actually belong to the genus Australopithecus as A. rudolfensis or Kenyanthropus as K. rudolfensis, or that it is synonymous with the contemporaneous and anatomically similar Homo habilis.
Homo rudolfensis is distinguished from Homo habilis by larger size. However there are palaeoanthropologists who argue that this species actually consists of male Homo habilis specimens. This would assume that Homo habilis was sexually dimorphic and males were much larger than females. Because no bodily remains are definitely identified, body size estimates are largely based on the stature of Homo habilis. Using these estimates Homo rudolfensis may have averaged about 5 feet, 3 inches in height and weighed about 132 pounds. Females may have averaged about 4 feet, 11 inches in height and about 112 pounds in weight.
One presumably representative skull fossil had a brain volume of about 750 cc. Like other early Homo species, Homo rudolfensis had large cheek teeth and thick enamel. Early Homo species exhibit marked brain growth compared to Australopithecus predecessors. This is usually accounted for by palaeoarchaeologists as spurred by a change in diet with a calorie-rich food source, namely meat. Though not associated with tools, dental anatomy suggests some processing of plant or meat fiber before consumption. Nonetheless the robust structures of the mouth could still effectively chew through mechanically challenging food, indicating tool use did not greatly affect diet.
The first Homo rudolfensis fossils were discovered in 1972 along Lake Turkana in Kenya. At the time Lake Turkana was called Lake Rudolf in Kenya, hence the name Homo rudolfensis. The fossils were detailed by Kenyan palaeoanthropologist Richard Leakey the following year. The specimens consisted of a large and nearly complete skull; a right femur; an upper femur (proximal) fragment; and a complete left femur. The four fossils were discovered by three different individuals. And it is unclear if the femora fossils even belonged to the same species as the skull. Leakey classified all of the fossils under the genus Homo because he had reconstructed the skull fragments so that it had a large brain volume and a flat face. However the fossils were not assigned to a species at that time.
Because the horizon they were discovered in was at the time dated to 2.9–2.6 million years ago Leakey believed these specimens were a very early human ancestor. This challenged the major model of human evolution at the time. If Australopithecus africanus gave rise to Homo about 2.5 million years ago, but Homo had already existed at this time, it would call for serious revisions. However in 1977 further analysis dated the area’s horizon to about 2 million years ago. This coincided with the same time period as Homo habilis and Homo ergaster/Homo erectus. Further analysis in 2012 provided a more precise dating of the fossil material to 2.1 to 1.95 million years ago.
The fossils were first classified by anthropologists as Homo habilis in 1975. In 1978 Leakey suggested the remains should be classified as Australopithecus though he conceded that the remains could belong to Homo habilis. However the skull was incorrectly reconstructed. In 1986 palaeoanthropologists suggested the remains represent a different Homo species. They suggested that the as-yet-unnamed species coexisted with Homo habilis and Homo ergaster/Homo erectus. Coexisting Homo species conflicted with the predominant model of human evolution at the time which was that modern humans evolved in a straight line directly. The predominating view was that modern humans evolved directly from Homo ergaster/Homo erectus, which evolved directly from Homo habilis.
In 1986 the remains were classified as a new species, rudolfensis. However the validity of this species is debated. Some palaeoanthropologists argue that Homo habilis was highly sexually dimorphic as are modern non-human apes. They believe that the larger skulls classified as "Homo rudolfensis" actually represent male Homo habilis. In 1999 biological anthropologists recommended reclassifying Homo rudolfensis and Homo habilis to (non-Homo) Australopithecus based on the similarity of dental adaptations. However they conceded that dental anatomy is highly variable among hominins and not always reliable when formulating family trees.
In 2003 anthropologists concluded that the earlier australopithecine Kenyanthropus platyops classification by Leakey was the ancestor of rudolfensis, and reclassified it as K. rudolfensis. They expressed their belief that Kenyanthropus was more closely related to Paranthropus than Homo. In 2008 a re-reconstruction of the skull concluded it was incorrectly restored originally. Nonetheless the team of palaeoanthropologists agreed with the classification as Homo rudolfensis. In 2012 British palaeoanthropologist Meave Leakey described a juvenile partial face discovered in Koobi Fora, Kenya, as Homo rudolfensis.
She noted that the smaller skull shared several similarities to another larger skull. She classified it as Homo rudolfensis because prepubescent male and female bones are virtually indistinguishable. Differences between juvenile Homo rudolfensis and adult Homo habilis specimens support species distinction. She also concluded that a jawbone classified as Homo rudolfensis, actually belongs to a different, possibly undescribed species. However other palaeoanthropologists believe that the introduction of yet another species is premature because it is unclear how wide the range of variation is in early hominins.
The year 2013 brought with it discovery of the 1.8 million year old Dmanisi skulls from the Eurasian country of Georgia. These skulls exhibit several similarities with early Homo. This has led to suggestions by researchers that all contemporary groups of early Homo in Africa, including Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis, are the same species and should be assigned to Homo erectus. This demonstrates that until today there still remains no wide consensus on how rudolfensis and habilis relate to Homo ergaster and descendent species. With the exception of the one nearly intact skull there is disagreement on which specimens actually belong classified as Homo rudolfensis. It is very difficult to assign with accuracy a classification for remains that do not preserve the face and jaw.
No Homo rudolfensis bodily elements have ever been definitively associated with a skull and thus to the species. Most proposed Homo rudolfensis fossils come from Koobi, Kenya and date to 1.9–1.85 million years ago. Remains from the Shungura Formation, Ethiopia, and Uraha, Malawi, are dated as far back as 2.5–2.4 million years ago, which would make it the earliest identified species of Homo. The latest potential specimen Homo rudolfensis is dated to 1.65–1.55 million years ago.
Nonetheless Homo rudolfensis and Homo habilis generally are recognized members of the genus at the base of the family tree. Arguments for synonymization or removal from the genus are not widely supported. Though it is now largely agreed upon that Homo evolved from Australopithecus, the timing and placement of this split has been much debated. There have been many different Australopithecus species proposed as the ancestor of Homo rudolfensis and Homo habilis. The oldest Homo specimen ever discovered was dated to 2.8 million years ago. The fossils were found in the Afar Region of Ethiopia.
They may indicate that the Homo genus evolved from Australopithecus afarensis around this time frame, and they could be the ancestor of Homo rudolfensis and Homo habilis. However the hypothesis is not certain. It is also possible based on 2.1 million year old stone tools from Shangchen, China, than an ancestral species to Homo rudolfensis and Homo habilis dispersed across Asia. Body size estimates of Homo rudolfensis and Homo habilis typically conclude a small size comparable to australopithecines. These estimates are largely dependent on a single Homo habilis partial skeleton which generated an estimate of between 44 and 82 pounds in weight.
Homo rudolfensis is thought to have been bigger than Homo habilis. However it is unclear how big this species was. No bodily elements have been definitively associated with a skull. Based merely on a near complete skull recovered, male Homo rudolfensis were estimated to have been about 5 feet, 3 inches in height and about 130 pounds in weight. Females are estimated to have been about 4 feet, 11 inches in height and 112 pounds in weight.
It is generally assumed that pre-Homo ergaster hominins exhibited sexual dimorphism with males markedly bigger than females. This would include Homo rudolfensis and Homo habilis. However relative female body mass is unknown in either species. Early hominins are thought to have had thick body hair coverage like modern non-human apes. This is because they appear to have inhabited cooler regions and are thought to have had a less active lifestyle than presumed hairless post-ergaster species. They would probably have required thick body hair to stay warm. This assessment includes Homo rudolfensis.
A juvenile Homo rudolfensis specimen preserving a partial face has the same age landmarks as a 13 to 14 year old modern human. However the juvenile Homo rudolfensis likely died at around 8 years of age. This is calculated on a presumed faster growth rate among early hominins, which in turn is based on the dental development rate. In 1983 anthropologists examining the skull base of a Homo rudolfensis specimen calculated a brain volume of 752 to 753cc. In comparison Homo habilis specimens average about 600cc in brain volume. Homo ergaster averaged 850cc in brain volume. Later anthropological studies have estimated the brain volume of Homo rudolfensis at 526cc. A yet even later study in 2008 estimated a brain volume estimate of 700cc, which was based on the oldest known Homo rudolfensis specimen.
Fossils have generally been classified into Homo rudolfensis due to large skull size, flatter and broader face, broader cheek teeth, more complex tooth crowns and roots, and thicker enamel compared to Homo habilis. Early Homo are characterized by larger teeth compared to later Homo. It is typically thought that the diets of early Homo had a greater proportion of meat than Australopithecus. This in turn it is hypothesized led to brain growth. The main hypotheses regarding this consist of the proposition that meat is more energy and nutrient-rich than other food sources. This put evolutionary pressure on developing enhanced cognitive skills to facilitate strategic scavenging and monopolize fresh carcasses. Meat allowed the large and calorie-expensive ape gut to decrease in size allowing this energy to be diverted to brain growth.
Alternatively it is also suggested that early Homo was in the midst of a drying climate with scarcer food options. Early homo relied primarily on underground vegetable storage organs such as tubers and food sharing. This facilitated social bonding among both male and female group members. However unlike what is presumed for Homo ergaster and later Homo, short-stature early Homo were likely incapable of endurance running and hunting. The long and Australopithecus-like forearm of Homo habilis could indicate early Homo were still arboreal to a degree. As well organized cooperative hunting and gathering is thought to have emerged in Homo ergaster.
However the proposed food-gathering models propounded to explain large brain growth would necessarily dictate increased daily travel distance. Large incisor size in Homo rudolfensis and Homo habilis compared to Australopithecus predecessors implies these two species relied on incisors more. Large Australopithecus-like molars could indicate more mechanically challenging food compared to later Homo. The bodies of the mandibles of Homo rudolfensis and other early Homo are thicker than those of modern humans and all living apes. They are more comparable to Australopithecus. The mandibular body resists torsion from the bite force or chewing. This means their jaws could produce unusually powerful pressure while eating.
Homo rudolfensis is not associated with any tools. However, the greater molar cusp relief in Homo rudolfensis and Homo habilis compared to Australopithecus suggests the former two used tools to fracture tough foods such as pliable plant parts or meat. Was this not the case, had they not used tools to process food, the cusps would have been more worn down. Nonetheless the jaw adaptations for processing mechanically challenging food indicates technological advancement did not have a profound effect on their diet.
Large concentrations of stone tools are known from Koobi Fora. Because these aggregations are coincident with the emergence of Homo ergaster it is probable Homo ergaster manufactured them. However it is not possible to definitively attribute the tools to a species because Homo rudolfensis, Homo habilis, and Paranthropus boisei are also well-known from the area. The oldest specimen of Homo rudolfensis is associated with the Oldowan stone tool industry, meaning this tradition had been in use by the genus since near its emergence.
Early Homo rudolfensis and Paranthropus (both robustus and bosei) have exceptionally thick molars for hominins. The emergence of these two coincides with a cooling and aridity trend in Africa about 2.5 million years ago. This could mean they evolved due to climate change. Nonetheless in East Africa tropical forests and woodlands still persisted through periods of drought. Homo rudolfensis coexisted with Homo habilis, Homo ergaster, and Paranthropus boisei [Wikipedia].
Homo ergaster: Homo ergaster is an extinct species or subspecies of archaic humans who lived in Africa in the Early Pleistocene. Whether Homo ergaster constitutes a species of its own or if it should be subsumed into Homo erectus is an ongoing and unresolved dispute within palaeoanthropology. Proponents of synonymization typically designate Homo ergaster as "African Homo erectus" or "Homo erectus ergaster". The name Homo ergaster roughly translates to "working man". This references the more advanced tools used by the species in comparison to those of their ancestors.
The fossil range of Homo ergaster mainly covers the period of 1.8 to 1.7 million years ago, with a handful of older and younger specimens extending the range to about 2 and 1.5 million years ago respectively. Though fossils are known from across East and Southern Africa, most Homo ergaster fossils have been found along the shores of Lake Turkana in Kenya. There are later African fossils, some younger than 1 million years ago, that indicate long-term anatomical continuity. However it is uncertain whether they can correctly be regarded as Homo ergaster specimens. As a chronospecies Homo ergaster may have persisted to as late as 600,000 years ago, when new lineages of Homo arose in Africa.
Those researchers who believe that Homo ergaster should be subsumed into Homo erectus consider there to be too little difference between the two to separate them into distinct species. Proponents of keeping the two species as distinct cite morphological differences between the African fossils and Homo erectus fossils from Asia. They also propose that early Homo evolution was far more complex than what is implied by subsuming species such as Homo ergaster into Homo erectus. Furthermore morphological differences between the specimens commonly seen as constituting Homo ergaster might suggest that Homo ergaster itself does not represent a cohesive species. There may be more than one distinct species incorrectly identified as Homo ergaster.
Regardless of their most correct classification, Homo ergaster exhibit primitive versions of traits later expressed in Homo erectus. This leads researchers to believe that Homo ergaster is likely the direct ancestors of later Homo erectus populations in Asia. Additionally Homo ergaster is likely ancestral to later hominins in Europe and Africa, such as modern humans (Homo sapien) and Neanderthals. Several features distinguish Homo ergaster from australopithecines as well as earlier and more basal species of Homo, such as Homo habilis. Among these features are their larger body mass, relatively long legs, and obligate bipedalism. Also distinctive are such features as relatively small jaws and teeth which indicate a major change in diet. Additional distinctive features include body proportions.
Last and consequence of those physiological distinctions would be the inferred lifestyles which researchers presume to be more similar to modern humans than to earlier and contemporary hominins. With these features in mind, some researchers view Homo ergaster as being the earliest true representative of the genus Homo. Homo ergaster lived on the savannah in Africa. This was a unique environment with challenges that would have resulted in the need for many new and distinct behaviors. Earlier Homo probably used counter-attack tactics, like modern primates, to keep predators away. By the time of Homo ergaster, this behavior had probably resulted in the development of true hunter-gatherer behavior, a first among primates.
Further behaviors that might first have arisen in Homo ergaster include male-female divisions of foraging and true monogamous pair bonds. Homo ergaster also marks the appearance of more advanced tools of the Acheulean industry, including the earliest known hand axes. Though undisputed evidence is missing, Homo ergaster might also have been the earliest hominin to master control of fire. The systematics and taxonomy of Homo in the Early to Middle Pleistocene is one of the most disputed areas of palaeoanthropology. In early palaeoanthropology and well into the twentieth century, it was generally assumed that H. sapiens was the end result of gradual modifications within a single lineage of hominin evolution.
Homo erectus was perceived as the transitional form between early hominins and modern humans. The broad classification of Homo erectus was originally “erected” to contain archaic human fossils in Asia. The classification came to encompass an extraordinarily wide range of fossils covering an enormous span of time. In fact the time span originally credited to Homo erectus was almost the entire temporal range of Homo. Since the late twentieth century the enormous diversity within Homo erectus has led some researchers to question what exactly defines the species and what it should encompass. Some researchers such as palaeoanthropologist Ian Tattersall in 2013 have questioned the overly broad nature of the classification Homo erectus. According to their position it simply contains an "unwieldy" number of fossils with "substantially differing morphologies".
In the 1970s palaeoanthropologists Richard Leakey and Alan Walker described a series of hominin fossils from the eastern shore of Kenya’s Lake Turkana. The most notable finds were two partial skulls found at Koobi Fora. Leakey and Walker assigned these skulls to Homo erectus noting that their brain volumes (848 and 803 cc respectively) compared well to the far younger type specimen of Homo erectus (950 cc). Another significant fossil was a fossil mandible recovered at Ileret and described by Leakey in 1972 as "Homo of indeterminate species".
In 1975 palaeoanthropologists designated the fossils as the holotype specimen of a distinct species, which they dubbed Homo ergaster. The name ergaster is derived from the Ancient Greek and roughly translates to "working man" or "workman". A nearly complete fossil was discovered at the western shore of Lake Turkana in 1984 by Kenyan archaeologists. Interpreted as being the skeleton of a young male (though the sex is actually indeterminate), the fossils were described by Leakey and Walker and nicknamed "Turkana Boy". The fossil consisted of a nearly complete skeleton. It was described by Leakey and Walker as representing Homo erectus.
“Turkana Boy” was the first discovered comprehensively preserved specimen of Homo ergaster/erectus found and constitutes an important fossil in establishing the differences and similarities between early Homo and modern humans. Turkana Boy was eventually classified as Homo ergaster in 1992. Alongside other fossils in Africa previously/erroneously classified as Homo erectus, “Turkana Boy” is commonly viewed as a representative of Homo ergaster by those who support Homo ergaster as a distinct species.
Homo ergaster is easily distinguished from earlier and more basal species of Homo, notably Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis. There are a number of features that align them and their inferred lifestyle more closely to modern humans than to earlier and contemporary hominins. As compared to their relatives Homo ergaster had body proportions more similar to later members of the genus Homo. Those would include most notably relatively long legs which would have made them obligately bipedal. The teeth and jaws of Homo ergaster are also relatively smaller than those of Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis. This indicates a major change in diet and by inference, lifestyle.
In 1999 palaeoanthropologists argued that the conventional criteria for assigning species to the genus Homo were flawed. They proposed that early and basal species such as Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis might appropriately be reclassified as ancestral australopithecines. In their view the true earliest representative of Homo was Homo ergaster. Since its description as a separate species in 1975, the classification of the fossils referred to Homo ergaster has been in dispute. Homo ergaster was immediately dismissed by Leakey and Walker and many influential researchers. In 1990 proponents of that contrarian view wrote a treatise that argued for a more inclusive and wider definition of Homo erectus.
Overall, there is no doubt that the group of fossils composing Homo erectus and Homo ergaster represent the fossils of a more or less cohesive subset of closely related archaic humans. The question is instead whether these fossils represent a radiation of different species or the radiation of a single, highly variable and diverse, species over the course of almost two million years. This long-running debate remains unresolved,. Today researchers typically use the term Homo erectus s.s. (sensu stricto) to refer to Homo erectus fossils in Asia, They use the term Homo erectus s.l. (sensu lato) to refer to fossils of other species that may or may not be included in Homo erectus. Included within this terminology would be Homo ergaster, Homo antecessor and Homo. heidelbergensis.
For obvious reasons Homo ergaster shares many features with Homo erectus. These shared characteristics include large forward-projecting jaws, large brow ridges and a receding forehead. Many of the features of Homo ergaster are clearly more primitive versions of features later expressed in Homo erectus. This somewhat obscures the differences between the two. However there are subtle, potentially significant, differences between the East African and East Asian fossils. Among these are the somewhat higher-domed and thinner-walled skulls of Homo ergaster. Also the even more massive brow ridges and faces of Asian Homo erectus.
The question is made more difficult since it regards how much intraspecific variation can be exhibited in a single species before that variation requires defining a distinct species. This question in and of itself does not have a clear-cut answer. In a 2008 analysis an examination of the fossils of various Homo erectus subspecies including fossils attributed to Homo ergaster was conducted. The study concluded that the intraspecific variation within Homo erectus was greater than expected for a single species when compared to modern humans and chimpanzees. However it also found that the intraspecific variation did fall well within the variation expected for a species when compared to gorillas. It even fell well within the range expected for a single subspecies when compared to orangutans. This latter however was partly due to the great sexual dimorphism exhibited in gorillas and orangutans.
The study concluded that Homo erectus s.l. was either a single but variable species, or several subspecies divided by time and geography or several geographically dispersed but closely related species. A 2015 study listed Homo ergaster as one of the seven "widely recognized" species of Homo, alongside Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis, Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens. The study also noted that several other species such as Homo floresiensis and Homo antecessor were less widely recognized or more poorly known.
Another 2013 study compared various African fossils attributed to Homo erectus or Homo ergaster to Asian fossils, notably the type specimen of Homo erectus. The study conclusion was that referring to the African material as Homo ergaster rather than "African Homo erectus" was a "considerable improvement" as there were many autapomorphies distinguishing the material of the two continents from one another. The study proposed that it would be appropriate to use the designation Homo erectus only for eastern Asian fossils. That its previous use as the name for an adaptive grade of human fossils from throughout Africa and Eurasia should be abandoned.
Although frequently assumed to have originated in East Africa, the origins of Homo ergaster are obscured by the fact that the species marks a radical departure from earlier species of Homo and Australopithecus in its long limbs, height and modern body proportions. Though a large number of Pleistocene tools have been found in East Africa, it can not be fully ascertained that Homo ergaster originated there without further fossil discoveries. It is assumed that Homo ergaster evolved from earlier species of Homo, probably Homo habilis.
Populations of Homo ergaster outside of Africa have been inferred based on the geographical distribution of their descendants and tools matching those in East Africa. However fossils of the species are mainly from East Africa in the time range of 1.8 to 1.7 million years ago. Most fossils have been recovered from around the shores of Lake Turkana in Kenya. The oldest known specimen of Homo ergaster is a skull recovered in the Drimolen Palaeocave System in South Africa. It is dated to earlier than 1.95 million years ago. It demonstrates that early Homo ergaster coexisted with other hominins such as Paranthropus robustus and Australopithecus sediba.
There are also younger specimens of Homo ergaster. Most notably Turkana Boy is dated to about 1.56 million years ago. A handful of even younger African skulls make the case for long-term anatomical continuity. However it is not certain that they can appropriately be formally regarded as Homo ergaster specimens. There’s a skull from Olduvai Gorge known as "Olduvai Hominid 9" which is dated to about 1.2 to 1.1 million years ago. There are also skulls from Buia (near the coast of Eritrea) dated to about 1 million years ago. There are even younger skulls from tentatively identified as Homo ergaster from the Bouri Formation in Ethiopia which are dated to between 1 million and 780,000 years old. Last there’s a fragmentary skull from Olorgesailie in Kenya dated to between 970,000 and 900,000 years ago.
The Olduvai skull is similar to Asian Homo erectus in its massive brow ridge, but the others only show minor differences to earlier Homo ergaster skulls. The Homo erectus in Asia as well as later hominins in Europe and Africa are all probably lineages descended from Homo ergaster. This would include from Europe Homo heidelbergensis and Homo neanderthalensis, and from and Africa Homo sapiens. Because Homo ergaster is thought to have been ancestral to these later Homo, it might have persisted in Africa until around 600,000 years ago. That point would theoretically extend to when its brain size increased rapidly and Homo heidelbergensis emerged.
Traditionally Homo erectus was seen as the hominin that first left Africa to colonize Europe and Asia. If Homo ergaster is distinct from Homo erectus, this role would apply to Homo ergaster instead. Very little concrete information is known on when and which Homo first appeared in Europe and Asia since Early Pleistocene fossil hominins are scarce on both continents. Whether it would have been Homo ergaster (or "early Homo erectus") that expanded into Europe and Asia as well as the particular manner in which they did remains conjecture.
The presence of Homo erectus fossils in East Asia means that a human species, most likely Homo ergaster, had left Africa before 1 million years ago. The assumption historically has been that they first migrated out of Africa around 1.9 to 1.7 million years ago. Discoveries in Georgia and China push the latest possible date further back, before 2 million years ago. However this also casts doubt on the idea that Homo ergaster was the first hominin to leave Africa.
The main reason for leaving Africa is likely to have been an increasing population periodically outgrowing their resource base. Splinter groups would have moved to establish themselves in neighboring empty territories over time. The physiology and improved technology of Homo ergaster might have allowed them to travel to and colonize territories that no one had ever occupied before. It is unclear if Homo ergaster was truly uniquely capable of expanding outside Africa. Australopithecines had likely colonized savannah grasslands throughout Africa by 3 million years ago. There are no clear reasons as to why they would not have been able to expand into the grasslands of Asia before Homo ergaster.
The general assumption is that hominins migrated out of the continent either across the southern end of the Red Sea or along the Nile Valley. However there are no fossil hominins known from either region in the Early Pleistocene. The earliest Homo fossils outside Africa are the Dmanisi skulls from Georgia. These are dated to 1.77–1.85 million years old. They represent either early Homo ergaster or a new taxon, Homo georgicus. Then there were three incisors from Ubeidiya in Israel which were dated to about 1.4 to 1 million years old. And of course there were the famous fossils of Java Man, Homo erectus, found more than five thousand miles away.
The dating of key Asian Homo erectus specimens is not entirely certain, but they are all likely to be 1.5 million years old or younger. This includes Java Man. Ubeidiya, Israel is also the oldest firmly confirmed site of Acheulean tools outside Africa. The tools recovered there closely resemble older tools discovered in East Africa. Acheulean tools are one of the tool industries associated with Homo ergaster. The earliest fossil evidence of Homo in Asia are the Dmanisi skulls from Georgia. These share many traits with Homo ergaster in Africa. This suggests that Homo ergaster might have expanded out of Africa as early as 1.7–1.9 million years ago.
In addition to Homo ergaster-like traits, the Dmanisi skulls possess a wide assortment of other traits. Some of these traits are similar to traits in earlier hominins such as Homo habilis. However notably and perhaps significantly the site lacks preserved hand axes, Hand axes are otherwise characteristic of Homo ergaster. This implies that hominins might have spread out of Africa even earlier than Homo ergaster. One of the Dmanisi skulls in particular resembles Homo habilis in the small volume of its braincase (about 600 cc). Also reminiscent of Homo habilis is the form of the middle and upper face and the lack of an external nose.
The mixture of skulls at Dmanisi suggests that the definition of Homo ergaster (or Homo erectus) might most appropriately be expanded. Perhaps the definition should extend to fossils that would otherwise be assigned to Homo habilis. Or perhaps it should recognize that two separate species of archaic humans left Africa early on. In addition to the Dmanisi fossils, stone tools manufactured by hominins have been discovered on the Loess Plateau in China. These tools were dated to 2.12 million years old. This is clear evidence that hominins must have left Africa before that time.
An alternative hypothesis historically has been that Homo evolved in Asia from earlier ancestors that had migrated there from Africa. Thereafter this earlier ancestor expanded back into Europe, where it gave rise to Homo sapiens. This view was notably held by 19th and early 20th century anthropologists including Eugène Dubois. Dubois first described Homo erectus fossils in the 19th century and considered the fossils of Java Man. At the time the Java Man fossils were undeniably the earliest known hominin fossils. These fossils were offered as proof of the hypothesis of a migration of early hominins out of Asia and into Europe.
The discovery of australopithecines and earlier Homo in Africa meant that Homo itself did not originate in Asia. However the idea has occasionally resurfaced that Homo erectus (or Homo ergaster) in particular did originate in Asia and then expanded back into Africa. Various fossil discoveries have been used to support this proposition through the years. Perhaps the most famous example was a massive set of jaws from Indonesia. They were perceived to be similar to those of australopithecines and dubbed Meganthropus. Anthropologists now believe the fossils to be of an unrelated hominid ape.
The discovery of Homo floresiensis in 2003 again led to suggestions of pre-erectus hominins in Asia. Homo floresiensis preserved primitive foot and wrist anatomy reminiscent of that of Homo habilis and Australopithecus. However there are no known comparable foot or wrist bones from Homo erectus, which makes direct comparisons impossible. The idea that Homo ergaster/Homo erectus first evolved in Asia before expanding back into Africa was substantially weakened by the dating of the skull found in the Drimolen Palaeocave System in South Africa as approximately 2 million years old. This find predates all other known Homo ergaster/Homo erectus fossils.
The only well-preserved post-cranial remains of Homo ergaster come from the Turkana Boy fossil. Unlike the australopithecines Turkana Boy's arms were not longer relative to his/her legs than the arms of modern humans. The cone-shaped torso of Turkana Boy’s ancestors had evolved into a more barrel-shaped chest over narrow hips. This is another similarity to modern humans. The tibia (shin bone) of Turkana Boy is relatively longer than the same bone in modern humans, potentially meaning that there was more bend in the knee when walking.
The slim and long build of Turkana Boy may be explained by Homo ergaster living in hot and arid, seasonal environments. Through thinning of the body, body volume decreases faster than skin area and greater skin area relative to body volume means more effective heat dissipation. Homo ergaster individuals were significantly taller than their ancestors. Lucy, the famous Australopithecus fossil, would only have been about 1 meter (3 feet, 3 inches) tall at her death. Turkana Boy was about 1.62 meters (5 feet, 4 inches) tall as a juvenile. Turkana Boy would probably have reached six feet or more in height (1.82 meters) if he or she had survived to adulthood. Adult Homo ergaster are believed to have ranged in height from about 1.45 to 1.85 meters (4 feet, 9 inches to 6 feet 1 inch).
Because of being adapted to a hot and arid climate, Homo ergaster might also have been the earliest human species to have nearly hairless and naked skin. Sweating is the primary means through which modern humans prevent their brains and bodies from overheating. Had Homo ergaster had an ape-like covering of body hair, sweating would not have been as efficient. Though sweating is the generally accepted explanation for hairlessness, other proposed explanations include a reduction of parasite load and sexual selection.
It is doubtful if australopithecines and earlier Homo were sufficiently mobile to make hair loss an advantageous trait. However Homo ergaster was clearly adapted for long-distance travel and noted for inhabiting lower altitudes than their ancestors. Australopithecines typically inhabited colder and higher altitudes of 3,300 to 5,200 feet. Nighttime temperatures would have gotten significantly colder and insulating body hair may have been required. Homo ergaster on the other hand was predominately found in open, hot savannah environments.
Alternatively and despite this the loss of body hair could have occurred significantly earlier than Homo ergaster. Though skin impressions are unknown in any extinct hominin, it is possible that human ancestors were already losing their body hair around 3 million years ago. Human ancestors acquired pubic lice from gorillas about 3 million years ago. The speciation of human from gorilla pubic lice was potentially only possible because human ancestors had lost most of their body hair by this early date. It is also possible that the loss of body hair occurred at a significantly later date.
Genetic analysis suggests that high activity in the melanocortin 1 receptor which produces dark skin. This genetic activity dates back to about 1.2 million years ago. This could indicate the evolution of hairlessness around this time. A lack of body hair prior to this time would have left the skin exposed to harmful UV radiation. Differences to modern humans would have been readily apparent in the face and skull of Homo ergaster. Turkana Boy's brain was almost fully grown at the time of his/her death. However its volume at 880cc was only about 130cc greater than the maximum found in Homo habilis. And its brain volume was about 500cc below the average of modern humans.
The 130cc increase in brain size over Homo habilis becomes much less significant than what could be presumed when the larger body size of Turkana Boy and Homo ergaster is considered. With all Homo ergaster skulls considered, the brain volume of the species mostly varied between 600 and 910cc. Some smaller examples only had a volume of 508 to 580cc. Since their brain was smaller than that of modern humans, the skull of Homo ergaster immediately narrowed behind the eye sockets (post-orbital constriction).
Turkana Boy's brain case was long and low. His forehead would have been flat and receding, merging at an angle with the brow ridge above his/her eyes. A noticeable difference between Turkana Boy and the australopithecines and Homo habilis would have been his/her nose. Turkana Boy’s nose would have been similar to that of modern humans in projecting forwards and having nostrils oriented downwards. This external nose may have also been an adaptation towards a warmer climate. Noses of modern humans are usually cooler than their central bodies. This condenses moisture that would otherwise have been exhaled and lost during periods of increased activity.
The face of Turkana Boy would have been longer from top to bottom than that of modern humans, with the jaws projecting farther outwards (prognathism). Though the jaws and teeth were smaller than those of the average australopithecine and Homo habilis, they were still significantly larger than those of modern humans. Since the jaw slanted sharply backwards, it is probable that he/she was chinless. The overall structure of Turkana Boy's skull and face is also reflected in other Homo ergaster skulls. These combine large and outwardly projecting faces with brow ridges, receding foreheads, large teeth and projecting nasal bones.
Turkana Boy would have been no more than 12 years old when he/she died. His/her stature is more similar to that of a modern 15-year-old. The brain is comparable to that of a modern 1-year-old. By modern standards, Homo ergaster would thus have been cognitively limited. Nonetheless the invention of new tools proves that they were more intelligent than their predecessors. Homo ergaster also possessed a significantly larger body mass in comparison to earlier hominins such as early Homo, Australopithecus and Paranthropus.
Australopithecines typically ranged in weight from 64 to 106 lbs. By comparison Homo ergaster typically ranged in weight from 115–139 lbs. It is possible that the increased body size was the result of life in an open savannah environment. Increased size in that environment would give them the ability to exploit broader diets in larger foraging areas. Larger size would also increase mobility and enhance the ability to hunt larger prey. The increased body mass also means that parents would have been able to carry their children to an older age and larger mass.
Reduced sexual dimorphism (differences between male and female size, etc.) has often been cited historically as one of the radical differences between Homo ergaster and earlier Homo and australopithecines. However in reality it is unclear whether australopithecines were significantly more sexually dimorphic than Homo ergaster or modern humans. Skeletal evidence suggests that sexes in Homo ergaster differed no more in size than sexes in modern humans do. Furthermore a 2003 palaeoanthropological study suggested that the same was also true for the significantly earlier Australopithecus afarensis.
Sexual dimorphism is difficult to measure in extinct species since the sex of fossils is usually not determinable. Historically, scientists have typically measured differences between the extreme ends (in terms of size and morphology) of the fossil material attributed to a species and assumed that the resulting ratio applies to the mean difference between male and female individuals. But this simplified generalization may or may not be accurate.
The dimensions of a 1.8 million years old adult female Homo ergaster pelvis from Gona, Ethiopia suggests that Homo ergaster would have been capable of birthing children with a maximum prenatal (pre-birth) brain size of 315cc. This calculates to about 30–50 % of adult brain size. This value falls intermediately between that of chimpanzees (about 40 %) and modern humans (28%). Further conclusions about the growth and development in early Homo can be drawn from the Mojokerto Child. The Mojokerto Child is an Asian Homo erectus about one year old. It is dated to about 1.4–1.5 million years old. It possessed a brain of about 72–84% the size of an adult Homo erectus brain. This suggests a brain growth trajectory more similar to that of other great apes than of modern humans.
Both the Gona pelvis and the Mojokerto child suggest that the prenatal growth of Homo ergaster was similar to that of modern humans. However they also suggest that the postnatal (post-birth) growth and development was intermediate between that of chimpanzees and modern humans. The faster development rate suggests that altriciality evolved at a later stage in human evolution. Altriciality is an extended childhood and a long period of parental dependency. Altricialty in Homo might not have developed until the last common ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans. The faster development rate might also indicate that the expected lifespan of Homo ergaster and Homo erectus was lower than that of later and modern humans.
When compared to its ancestors Homo ergaster possessed a larger body and brain size. It is often assumed that these attributes would have brought with it increased dietary and energy needs. In 2002 palaeoanthropologists calculated that the average resting metabolic requirements of Homo ergaster would have been 39% higher than those of Australopithecus afarensis, 30% higher in males and 54% higher in females. However the torso proportions of Homo ergaster implies a relatively small gut. This could mean that energy needs might not necessarily have been higher in Homo ergaster than in earlier hominins.
This would be because earlier ape (and australopithecine) guts were large and energy-expensive since they needed to synthesize fat and energy through fermenting plant matter. Homo ergaster on the other hand likely ate significantly more animal fat than their predecessors. This would have allowed more energy to be diverted to brain growth. This could theoretically have increased brain size without necessitating increased energy requirements above that of earlier species. If in fact they had have increased energy requirements, Homo ergaster would have needed to eat either vastly more food than australopithecines, or would have needed to eat food of greater energy content.
If Homo ergaster ate the same type of foods as the australopithecines, feeding time would then have had to be dramatically increased in proportion to the extra calories required. This would have reduced the time Homo ergaster could use for resting, socializing and traveling. Though this would have been possible, it is considered unlikely. This is especially since the jaws and teeth of Homo ergaster are reduced in size compared to those of the australopithecines. This feature suggests a shift in diet away from fibrous and difficult-to-chew foods. Regardless of energy needs, the small gut of Homo ergaster also suggests a more easily digested diet composed of food of higher caloric density.
It is likely that Homo ergaster consumed meat in higher proportions than the earlier australopithecines. Meat was probably acquired through a combination of ambushes, active hunting and confrontational scavenging. Homo ergaster must surely have possessed the ability of endurance running so as to escape becoming a meal. But Homo ergaster must also have been able to defend themselves and the carcasses of their prey from the variety of contemporary African predators and scavengers. It is even possible that a drop in African carnivorous species variety around 1.5 million years ago can be ascribed to competition with opportunistic and carnivorous hominins.
On its own meat might not have been able to fully sustain Homo ergaster. Modern humans can not sufficiently metabolize protein to meet more than 50% of their energy needs. Modern humans who heavily rely on animal-based products in their diet mostly rely on fat to sustain the rest of their energy requirements. Multiple reasons make a fully meat-based diet in Homo ergaster unlikely. The most prominent of these reasons would be that that African ungulates (hoofed mammals, the primary prey available) are relatively low in fat. High meat diets demand increased intake of water. Meeting such needs would have been difficult in an open and hot environment.
Modern African hunter-gatherers who rely heavily on meat use cultural means to recover the maximum amount of fat from the carcasses of their prey. The methods used by peoples such as the Hadza and San would not have been available to Homo ergaster. Homo ergaster would likely have consumed large quantities of meat, vastly more than their ancestors. However they would also have had to make use of a variety of other food sources, such as seeds, honey, nuts, invertebrates, nutritious tubers, bulbs and other underground plant storage organs.
Additionally Homo ergaster possessed a relatively small chewing capacity. This is particularly true in comparison to its larger-jawed ancestors. This means that the meat and plant food consumed would likely have required the use of tools to process before eating. Homo ergaster lived on the African savannah. During the Pleistocene this was home to a considerably more formidable community of carnivores than presently. Hominins could probably only have adapted to life on the savannah if effective anti-predator defense behaviors had already evolved. Defense against predators would likely have come through Homo ergaster living in large groups. In addition they must have possessed stone (and presumably wooden) tools that they employed in effective counter-attack behavior.
In modern primates that spend significant amounts of time on the savannah, individuals form large, multi-male, groups. This would include contemporary chimpanzees and savannah baboons. Multiple males can effectively work together to fend off and counter-attack predators. Occasionally even stones or sticks are employed in the defense of the rest of the group. It is possible that similar behavior was exhibited in early Homo. Based on the male-bonded systems within bonobos and chimpanzees, groups of early Homo might have been male-bonded as well. This possibility is strengthen by the tendency towards male bonding in modern primate foragers.
Because of the scarcity of fossil material group size in early Homo cannot be determined with any certainty. Groups were probably large. It is possible groups were above the upper range of known group sizes among modern primates. Contemporary chimpanzees and baboon groupings are in the range of around 100 individuals or more. In 1993 palaeoanthropologists estimated that the group size of Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis would have ranged from about 70 to 85 individuals. The estimates were based upon neocortex size, as there is a known relationship between neocortex size and group size in modern non-human primates. With the additional factor of bipedalism, which is energetically cheaper than quadrapedalism, the maximum ecologically tolerable group size may have been even larger. Using the same methodology the estimated size of Homo ergaster groups was between 91 and 116 individuals.
Social and counter-attack behavior of earlier Homo species probably carried over into Homo ergaster. Homo ergaster probably refined and developed those tactics even further. Homo ergaster was probably the first Human species to move into the niche of social carnivore, or hunter-gatherer. Such behavior would probably have been the result of counter-attacks in the context of competition over food with other carnivores. It likely evolved from something akin to the opportunistic hunting sometimes exhibited by chimpanzees. The switch to predation in groups might have triggered a cascade of evolutionary changes which changed the course of human evolution.
Cooperative behaviors such as opportunistic hunting in groups, predator defense and confrontational scavenging would have been critical for survival. This would gradually translate into a fundamental transition in psychology. Typical "competitive cooperation" behavior exhibited by most primates was eventually disfavored through natural selection. The social tendencies taking its place such as hunting and other activities would have become true collaborative efforts. Counter-attack behavior is typically exhibited in males of modern primates. So it is believed that social hunting in archaic humans was also likely a primarily male activity. Females likely conducted other types of foraging, gathering food which did not require hunting (i.e. fruits, nuts, eggs etc.).
With hunting being a social activity, individuals probably shared the meat with one another. This would have strengthened the bonds both between the hunters themselves and between the hunters and the rest of the Homo ergaster group. Females likely shared what they had foraged with the rest of the group as well. This development could have led to the development of male-female friendships into opportunistic monogamous pair bonds. Sexual selection from females probably favored males that could hunt. The emerging social behavior resulting would have been carried over and amplified through the generations.
The only direct evidence of Homo ergaster group composition comes from a series of sites outside of Ileret in Kenya. There 97 footprints made around 1.5 million years ago by a group of at least 20 individuals were preserved. Based on the size of the footprints, one of the trackways appears to have been a group entirely composed of males. Possibly this was a specialized task group, such as a border patrol or a hunting or foraging party. If this assessment is correct, this would further suggest a male-female division of responsibilities.
In modern hunter-gatherer societies who target large prey items, male parties are typically dispatched to bring down these high-risk animals. Due to the low success rate and high risk rate of hunting large prey, female parties tend to focus on more reliable food sources. Early Homo ergaster inherited the Oldowan culture of tools from australopithecines and earlier Homo species. However Homo ergaster though quickly learnt to strike much larger stone flakes than their predecessors and contemporary Homo species. By 1.65 million years ago Homo ergaster had created the extensively flaked artifacts and early hand axes that mark the Acheulean culture. By 1.6–1.4 million years ago the new tool industry was widely established in East Africa.
Acheulean tools differ from Oldowan tools in that the core forms of the tools were clearly deliberate. Oldowan tools were probably used mostly as hammers to crack bones for marrow. The shape that the core formed appears to not have mattered much. Whereas the hand axes of the Acheulean culture demonstrate an intent to produce narrow and sharp objects. They were typically produced in teardrop, oval or triangular shapes. Once in place the Acheulean industry remained unchanged throughout Homo ergaster's existence. Such tools were produced for over a million years up until about 250,000 years ago. At later times, in the end, the tools were not significantly different from tools produced 1.65 million years ago.
The oldest Acheulean assemblages also preserve core forms similar to those in Oldowan tools. However there are no known true intermediate forms between the two. This suggests that the appearance of Acheulean tools was an abrupt and sudden development. The most significant development that led to the Acheulean tools was likely early hominins learning the ability to strike large flakes. These large flakes were up to one foot or more in length. They were flaked from larger boulders. From those larger flakes Homo ergaster could manufacture new tools such as hand axes. Of course "hand axe" implies that all hand axes were used for chopping and were hand-held. However they came in a variety of different shapes and size and probably served several different functions.
Carefully shaped and symmetric hand-axes may have been hurled at prey akin to modern discuses. More casually produced hand-axes may simply have served as portable sources for sharp flakes. Some could have been used for scraping or chopping wood. Additionally hand axes were effective butchering tools. They were possibly also used for dismembering carcasses of large animals. There are preserved hand axes that are too unwieldy and large to be used for any apparent practical purpose. There have also been discovered some collections of hundreds of hand axes without obvious signs of use.
The use of the larger hand axes as well as the collections of apparently unused hand axes is speculative and conjectural. An idea that has been popular in the media and even frequently cited in academia is that large and impressive hand axes might have been emblems used for attracting mates. It is suggested that the makers of these large axes thereby demonstrate strength, coordination and determination. It is postulated that these attributes derived from produces large hand axes may have been regarded as attractive.
In 2009 palaeoanthropologists noted that though this theory was "both intriguing and emotionally appealing", there was little evidence for it and the theory is untestable. They considered it more probable that variations in hand axe morphology over the course of hundreds of thousands of years was the result of a myriad of different factors. The variations and “jumbo” hand-axes were more likely the result of trial and error rather than as a single, overarching factor in sexual selection. As Homo migrated into open savannah environments, encounters with natural fires must have become more frequent and significant.
It is possible that Homo ergaster was the earliest humans to master the control of fire. It’s also possible, perhaps even likely that they may have used fire for cooking purposes. Cooking renders both meat and plant foods more digestible. This might very well have been important since the guts of Homo ergaster were reduced in size compared to those of their ancestors. Homo ergaster and/or Homo erectus are frequently assumed to have been the earliest Homo to control fire. However firm evidence is somewhat lacking in the fossil record. Perhaps this is partly due to the difficulty or unlikelihood for actual evidence of fire usage to be preserved.
Two of the earliest sites commonly claimed to preserve evidence of fire usage are two sites near Lake Baringo, in Kenya. Both sites are dated as up to 1.5 million years old. At one site the evidence consists of burned sediments and heat-altered stone tools. At the second site large clasts of baked clay are preserved, which are associated with stone tools and faunal remains. Though it is difficult to exclude a natural origin for the fire residue evidenced, the sites remain strong candidates for early fire use.
Several sites preserving more widely accepted evidence of fire usage have been dated to 1 million years ago or younger. These are dated after the emergence and last generally accepted record of Homo ergaster. These include cave sites such as Wonderwerk and Swartkrans in South Africa, and open sites, such as Kalambo Falls in Zambia. The site Gesher Benot Ya’aqov in Israel is dated to about 700,000 years ago. It preserves widely accepted evidence of fire usage through burnt materials and burnt flint microartifacts. This evidence is preserved at numerous sedimentary levels. From around 400,000 years ago and onwards traces of fire become even more numerous in sites across Africa, Europe and Asia.
The spinal cord of Turkana Boy would have been narrower than that of modern humans. This suggests that the nervous system of Homo ergaster including their respiratory muscles may not have been advanced to the degree necessary to produce or control speech. However in 2001 anthropologists suggested that Turkana Boy was afflicted by skeletal dysplasia and scoliosis. If this was true then it follows that he would not have been representative of the rest of his species. In 2006 anthropologist described a Homo erectus specimen from Dmanisi, Georgia. The Homo erectus specimen was dated to 1.78 million years old.
The fossil preserves the oldest known Homo vertebrae and the spine found. The fossilized remains fall within the range of modern human spine. This suggests that the individual would have been capable of speech. Meyer and colleagues concluded that speech was probably possible within Homo very early on. Their conclusions supported the finding that Turkana Boy probably suffered from some congenital defect, possibly spinal stenosis. However in 2013 and 2014 another team of anthropologists concluded that there was no evidence of any congenital defects in Turkana Boy. In contrast to the 2001 and 2006 studies the team considered the specimen to be representative of the species [Wikipedia].
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ABOUT US: Prior to our retirement we used to travel to Eastern Europe and Central Asia several times a year seeking antique gemstones and jewelry from the globe’s most prolific gemstone producing and cutting centers. Most of the items we offer came from acquisitions we made in Eastern Europe, India, and from the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean/Near East) during these years from various institutions and dealers. Much of what we generate on Etsy, Amazon and goes to support worthy institutions in Europe and Asia connected with Anthropology and Archaeology. Though we have a collection of ancient coins numbering in the tens of thousands, our primary interests are ancient/antique jewelry and gemstones, a reflection of our academic backgrounds.
Though perhaps difficult to find in the USA, in Eastern Europe and Central Asia antique gemstones are commonly dismounted from old, broken settings – the gold reused – the gemstones recut and reset. Before these gorgeous antique gemstones are recut, we try to acquire the best of them in their original, antique, hand-finished state – most of them originally crafted a century or more ago. We believe that the work created by these long-gone master artisans is worth protecting and preserving rather than destroying this heritage of antique gemstones by recutting the original work out of existence. That by preserving their work, in a sense, we are preserving their lives and the legacy they left for modern times. Far better to appreciate their craft than to destroy it with modern cutting.
Not everyone agrees – fully 95% or more of the antique gemstones which come into these marketplaces are recut, and the heritage of the past lost. But if you agree with us that the past is worth protecting, and that past lives and the produce of those lives still matters today, consider buying an antique, hand cut, natural gemstone rather than one of the mass-produced machine cut (often synthetic or “lab produced”) gemstones which dominate the market today. We can set most any antique gemstone you purchase from us in your choice of styles and metals ranging from rings to pendants to earrings and bracelets; in sterling silver, 14kt solid gold, and 14kt gold fill. When you purchase from us, you can count on quick shipping and careful, secure packaging. We would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from us. There is a $3 fee for mailing under separate cover. I will always respond to every inquiry whether via email or message, so please feel free to write.