Set IV. Early Homo (2.4-1.8 m.y.a.) The earliest appearance of our genus, Homo may be as ancient as the robust Australopithecines. Leakey named these specimens Homo habilis ("handy man") for Olduwan tools Differs from Australopithecus in cranial cavity and dental proportions.
Pleistocene Homo I. Terminology II. The Pleistocene (1.8 m.y.a. - 10,000 y.a.) III. Overview of Homo erectus Discoveries IV. Morphology of Homo erectus V. Technological Trends VI. Population Trends
I. Homo erectus: Terminology The discoveries of fossils now referred to as Homo erectus go back to the 1890s. These early fossils had different names: – Javanese remains were called Pithecanthropus (first found). – The fossils found in China were called Sinanthropus. After World War II the previous taxonomic splitting was combined under the classification of Homo erectus. Today they are referred to by some as Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, and Homo ergaster
II. The Pleistocene (1.8 m.y.a.. - 10,000 y.a.) Northern hemisphere largely covered with ice to about 40 degrees N latitude Known as the “age of glaciers” or “ice age”
II. The Pleistocene Glacial advances and retreats influenced hominids Pleistocene levels went down as much as 125 m.
III A. Discoveries in Java Six sites in eastern Java have yielded all the H. erectus fossils that have been found on this island. Dates range from 1.8 m.y.a. to 1.6 m.y.a. These were among the first found in the 1890s by Eugene DuBois
III B. Discoveries in Peking Near Zhoukoudian, more than 40 male and female adults and children have been found along with 100,000 artifacts since the 1920s. – The site was occupied for almost 250,000 years. – 40 % of the bones found were of individuals less than 14 years old and 2.6 % of the bones found were of individuals in the 50-60 year range. – Some evidence of fire use and cannibalism
III C. Discoveries in East Africa Louis Leakey unearthed a fossil skull at Olduvai. An almost complete skull was discovered in east Turkana. The most complete H. erectus skeleton ever found was uncovered at western Lake Turkana (Turkana or Nariokotome Boy). In Ethiopia, an abundance of Acheulian tools have been found as well as a mandible dating to 1.3 m.y.a.
IV. Morphology of Homo erectus Brain size has a mean of 900 cm 3 Range of 800-1200 cm 3 Body size dramatically increased compared to earlier hominids. Some close to 2 m tall Cranium had a distinctive pentagonal shape with thick cranial bone and large brow ridges. Low, long skull African specimens have thinner cranial bones than those found in Asia and are taller and thinner overall. Shovel-shaped incisors (early African and later Asians)
Technological Trends in the Pleistocene Expansion of the brain enabled H. erectus to develop sophisticated tools: – The biface, a stone that was worked on both sides, was used to cut, scrape, pound, and dig. – There is widespread evidence for butchering, thousands of Acheulian hand axes have been found with remains of large animals. Homo erectus is seen as a potential hunter and scavenger.
Trends in the Pleistocene Homo erectus liked to travel. Stone tools found on the island of Flores, 375 miles east of Java, suggest that H. erectus may have constructed ocean-going vessels. Homo erectus embraced culture as a strategy of adaptation.