REGISTRATION NO- 142-1121-0067-09
EXAMINATION- M.SC. 2nd SEMESTER EXAMINATION
2013 IN ANTHROPOLOGY
DEPT. OF ANTHROPOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF CALCUTTA
Theories on prehistory and early
man constantly change as new
evidence comes to light.
- Louis Leakey, British
• By the Miocene epoch (25 million to 5 mya) primates in various
forms of the modern prosimians, monkey and apes proliferated
in many geographic regions.
• Sometimes in the late Miocene or early Pliocene, new and
distinct forms of primate emerged, classified as the “Hominid”.
• The primary characteristics that identified “Hominid” as a
distinct genus is the structural anatomy which is needed for
• Hominids are generally divided into two genus, those are
Australopithecus (emerged first) and Homo.
4,000,000 BCE – 1,000,000 BCE
Hominids --> any member
of the family of two-legged
primates that includes all
• “Australopithecine” are evolved from roughly 4 million to 1
million years ago. After that there is no trace in this genus
in the fossil record.
• The genus “Homo” includes the direct ancestors of the
modern humans. Interestingly this genus coexisted with the
later Australopithecines between 2 to1 mya.
• The earliest member of the Homo line is Homo habilis (2.2
million and 1.5 mya). The fossil remains of Homo erectus (1.5
mya) is found. Homo sapiens is evolved from Homo erectus
and this species encompass modern human during the past
found in East Africa.
created stone tools.
( “Handy Man” )
• The hominids are the member of the order
primates. As such they share the basic primate
skeleton, manual dexterity and prolonged infant
• The hominids have evolved with several distinctive
characteristics such asi)Bipedalism,
ii)Reduction of face, jaw and anterior teeth,
iii)Enlargement of cranial capacity.
• Bipedalism stands as the earliest and the most
important trend in hominid evolution.
• Hominids are the only primates that are fully bipedal.
Although gorillas and chimpanzee can stand upright
but they are primarily knuckle walker.
• Many paleoanthropologists believed that the first
known hominids were not efficient at bipedalism.
1,6000,000 BCE – 30,000 BCE
( “Upright Human Being” )
Larger and more varied
tools --> primitive technology
First hominid to migrate and
leave Africa for Europe and
First to use fire ( 500,000 BCE )
developed in early hominids because of the changes in
the African environment during the late Miocene and
• The climate become drier and dense Miocene forest
went away and Savana grassland came into existence.
• This type of environment, upright posture may have
allowed ancestral hominids to see over the high grass
to identify the food source and predators.
• When bipedalism adapted by the hominids then
their hands became free. By using these hands
they did some dedicated works such as transfering
food, carrying infants, making and using tools.
• Some anthropologists attribute the emergence of
bipedalism in hominids exclusively for the need to
• But the existing evidence however does not
support this hypothesis because early stone tools
dated only 2.5 mya but the bipedalism came more
than 4 mya.
• The oldest fossil hominids have prognathas face. Their
incisor and canine teeth were large compared to those
of modern human.
• Approximately 2 mya, these characteristics started to
become less pronounced in hominids and early
representative of genus Homo have smaller canines and
the gaps associated with larger teeth disappeared.
• Primate teeth can handle an omnivorous diet. Hominid
teeth with fat molar crown and thick toothed enamel
are highly speacialized for grinding.
• Some Australopithecines developed massive
chewing mussles and extremely large molars
compared to those of humans. (The nickname of A.
boisei is “nutcracker man”.
• Some Australopithecine fossil specimens have a
sagittal crest along the midline of cranium, it
grows laeger as more chewing muscles.
• In the genus Homo, a distinctive characteristics is
a tendency toward increased cranial capacity and
complexity of the brain, dated around less than 2
• The cranial capacity of Homo erectus was 1000 cc
and in case of modern human it is 1350 cc.
• Changes in cranial capacity of early hominids
undoubtedly influenced physical and social
development, increasing brain size, modified
human diet, the use of tools, the evolution of
Did populations of archaic Homo sapiens
simultaneously evolve from H. erectus into
modern H. sapiens (multiregional hypothesis)?
Are all contemporary people derived from one
single population of archaic Homo sapiens (“Eve”
or “Out-of-Africa” hypothesis)?
• The multiregional hypothesis is an alternative
scientific model that provides an explanation
for the pattern of human evolution. The
hypothesis holds that humans first arose near
the beginning of the Pleistocene two million
years ago and subsequent human evolution
has been within a single, continuous human
Anatomically modern humans are descended from one
specific population of Homo sapiens, replacing
populations as they spread out from their original
This hypothesis comes from the use of mitochondrial
DNA to reconstruct family trees (maternal lineages)
Preliminary results suggested that the ancestor of
modern humans lived in Africa 200,000 years ago
Y-chromosome analysis (paternal lineages) supports the