Anthropology: Paleoanthropology and the Fossil Record

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Unit 3: Paleoanthropology and the Fossil Record
Paleoanthropology
* The study of human evolution, the hominid fossils, and their relations to each other and modern humans. The study of the fossil record, the study of the relationships among the fossils to themselves and to us. * There is nothing outside Africa that is even in the running to be a potential human ancestor * The most fossils are found in East Africa in the Rift valley, several in South Africa, and a few in Central Africa Definition : the study of human evolution, the fossil record, and the relationship among the fossils themselves * Hominids

* Anything in the family hominidae; may be human but have more ape like characteristics * Hominin
* A little more specifically human; getting to the sub-family and tribe level * Does not include apes at all, NO APE, human lineage or humans * Goals
* ID the early hominid species, identify the species
* Establishing and understand their relationships to one another * Gain insight to their behavior
* Multidisciplinary- a lot of different fields contributing to reaching the goals. * Geology – understanding the sites’ statigraphy
* Zooarcheologist – specializes in animal remains
* Paleobotanist – specializes in ancient plant or pollen * Archaeologist (expert on tools)
* What separates humans from apes
* Culture
* Religion, art, ritual, etc
* Brain Size – skull of a chimp and a human are very different and size and shape of brain * Primates are more encephalized than other mammals * Relative to their body size they have bigger brains * Within primates only, humans are the most encephalized * Bipedality

* Walk habitually on two feet; have no other ways of walking * There are differences in the skeletons between bipeds and quadrupeds * These three things did NOT happen at the same time ***** Bipedality

* Skull
* Foramen magnum
* The hole through which the spinal cord passes
* Spine
* Spinal Curvature (an S shaped curved)
* This puts the head directly on top of the skeleton so the head is not out in front * The great apes have a slight curvature but it’s not as great as our curvature is * Pelvis

* The ilia are oriented in a anterior/posterior direction * This helps position the muscles
* We find the pelvis in the fossil record
* Femur
* Bicondylar Angle
* Referring to the angle that the femur makes in its anatomical position from the hip to the knee * It is unnatural to stand with our legs hip length apart because of the bicondylar angle * Neck Length

* The length of the neck is correlated to how far out the femur will extend * In a chimp, the neck length is shorter
* In a biped, the neck will be longer
* Feet
* Great Apes have an opposable big toe
* Humans have a derived foot with all the toes being in one line (inline big toe) * Bipeds have arches in their feet which helps to stabilize weight * Great Apes do not have an arch – flat footed

* Arboreal
* Apes have elongated and curved toes and fingers to live in trees * Humans do not
* Apes cannot get a flat band because of a ridge in their wrists so they walk on their knuckles Hypothesis for Bipedality
* Have to do with being on the ground and freeing the hands to carry things * Tools, food, infants (carrying) -- Feeding --Hunting – * Gathering and reaching - further and higher
* Provisioning – providing for other, males hunted females gathered fruits and nuts, * To have a better view of the open country
* Seeing over tall grass, see further, spot predators
* Traveling between trees
* Energy efficiency
* Better energy use to walk on two legs as...
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