Lecture 9 the fossil record

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Lecture 9 - The Fossil Record

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Lecture 9 the fossil record

  1. 1. Anthro 101: Human Biological Evolution Lecture 9: The Fossil Record, Dating Techniques and Bipedalism
  2. 2. The Fossil Record • The Geological Time Scale • Dating Techniques • The Fossil Record • Early Primate Ancestors chimpanzee modern human
  3. 3. Our goal is to trace our lineage back in time • unbroken chain of ancestors back in time to • a creature much like a modern chimpanzee • a creature like an Old World monkey • a creature like one of the prosimians • a creature like a tree shrew
  4. 4. How do you define an extinct species? • Can’t see if fossil organisms reproduced • Track phenotypic traits - skeletons • Paleospecies - a group of similar fossils that vary from each other within the range of variation observed in a closely related living species • Can be tricky to determine similarity • Age, sex • Intraspecific variation • Variation over time & location • Limited number of fossils to compare • Typological viewpoint vs. Populationist viewpoint
  5. 5. Fossil evidence helps to trace our ancestry • Fossils: any remains, impressions or traces of plants or animals from a previous geological age • Bones replaced by minerals • Paleoanthropology: the study of fossil hominin species & related • Understand early primate-like & human-like creatures • Figure out the lives they led
  6. 6. The Fossil Record • Knowing dates is only part of the story • We are interested in evolutionary patterns • phylogenetic relationships • Our ability to infer these is imperfect • Still lot of interesting questions • Selective pressures • Adaptation
  7. 7. Finding fossils is a playing the lottery • Fossils are very, very old • Africa and Asia are very, very large • Ancient habitats & poor preservation • Difficult conditions in modern habitats • Surface materials easily destroyed • Much material is buried
  8. 8. Reconstructing the phylogeny is prone to errors • Imagine the “real” diversity of extinct species
  9. 9. Reconstructing the phylogeny is prone to errors • Start with the “real” diversity of extinct species • Suppose known fossils are randomly drawn from extinct species • Only about 3% of fossil species are likely ever found
  10. 10. Reconstructing the phylogeny is prone to errors • Start with the “real” diversity of extinct species • Suppose known fossils are randomly drawn from extinct species • Only about 3% of fossil species are likely ever found • Draw phylogenetic tree from known fossils
  11. 11. Reconstructing the phylogeny is prone to errors • Start with the “real” diversity of extinct species • Suppose known fossils are randomly drawn from extinct species • Only about 3% of fossil species are likely ever found • Draw phylogenetic tree from known fossils • Falsely simplifies actual phylogenetic relationships
  12. 12. Missing data can also mislead us about the date of origin and the lifespan of a species • Extinct species • Many individuals lived • Very few become fossils • Small chance of finding very earliest or very latest fossils • Under-estimate both age and lifespan of species
  13. 13. Determining the age of fossils pg 245 - 254 Relative Dating Techniques • Stratigraphy • Faunal Correlation • Fluorine Dating • Paleomagnetism Chronometric Dating Techniques • Radiometric Techniques • Carbon-14 • Potassium-Argon 4 mya Between 3 & 4 my old 3 mya
  14. 14. Radiometric Dating techniques • Assign an absolute date to a layer of rock and fossils in it • Radioactive isotopes are unstable • Isotope = variant of an element • Decay into stable isotope • Takes place at constant rate • Measure decay rate by half-life • Amount of time it takes for half of remaining amount to decay • Measure ratio of radioactive isotope to its decayed form = age
  15. 15. Radiometric Dating Techniques potassium/argon (K/Ar) dating: • Volcanic eruptions releases Ar gas • Rock cools • 40K decays into 40Ar • 40Ar is trapped in the rock • half-life of 1.3 billon yrs • ratio of K/Ar tells you how long ago the volcanic rock was formed • age of any fossils within that rock Carbon-14 • Animals eat carbon 14 during lifetime • Carbon 14 decays to carbon 12 when an animal dies • Measure the ratio of carbon 14 to carbon 12 in bones or organic material • Best for fossils younger than 40,000
  16. 16. Paleoanthropology is full of controversies: Australopithecus afarensis Homo spp. robust australopithecines hyper-robust australopithecines gracile australopithecine We used to believe that the hominid lineage was fairly simple
  17. 17. As new species are unearthed, the phylogeny is less certain
  18. 18. Biological Anthropology • Hominoid = Apes • Humans, Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Orangutans, Gibbons and Siamangs • Hominin = Bipedal Apes • Australopithecines, Paranthropines, genus Homo, including Homo sapiens (modern humans) • Homo = any species in the genus Homo • Represent a different grade than earlier species, more similar to modern humans Orangutan Australopithecine Homo sapien
  19. 19. 65 54 34 23 5 Paleocene Eocene Miocene Pliocene Pleistocene Oligocene 1.7 Oldest primates Prosimians Monkeys Apes Hominins The hominin lineage diverged from hominoid ancestors approximately 7 million years ago The Cenozoic Modern Humans 200 kya
  20. 20. 25C = 77 F 10C = 50 F The hominin lineage diverged from hominoid ancestors approximately 7 million years ago In the late Miocene: • Himalayas created • Africa + Eurasia joined • East African rift formed • Tropical forests shrank • Grasslands & woodlands expanded • Rapid fluctuations in temperature
  21. 21. The very early hominins represent an adaptive shift 1. Natural selection favored ability to move around bipedally • bipedal, but lived in forest or woods • probably spent a lot of time in trees • Bipedality evolved when hominins diverged (7 - 6 mya) • Well adapted 2. Brain size & intelligence very ape-like • Big brains evolved much later • Size shifts often just tracking changes in body size 3. Males & females sexually dimorphic • Multi-male multi-female type mating system is likely
  22. 22. • Falling is opposed by abductor muscles • Abductors tighten each step, hold body upright • Abductors attach the ilium on top of pelvis to the femur • Wider, thicker ilium and longer neck of femur increase surface area for muscle attachment Why don’t we fall over?
  23. 23. Changes in the pelvis: Chimps vs. Humans A Human pelvis is a bowl • Centers weight over one foot while walking • Supports internal organs • Short and broad ilium • Abductor muscles attach to wide surface of ilium A Chimpanzee pelvis • Long and narrow • Thin ilium • Powerful hamstring and quadruceps • Organs hang below
  24. 24. Other Skeletal changes associated with bipedal walking… • S-shaped spine • Centered foramen magnum • Femur angled in to close knees • Arched, rigid foot and big toe in-line with other toes
  25. 25. What is (are) the adaptive advantage(s) of bipedality? 1. Hands free to carry things 2. Efficient way to travel 3. Efficient for foraging from small trees 4. Keep cool in open savannah
  26. 26. • more efficient than knuckle- walking over long distances • Colder, drier world, receding forest areas • Cover open ground to reach foraging sites • Maintain larger groups • Safety from predators • Better competition vs. other groups Benefits of bipedality: Efficient travel
  27. 27. Benefits of bipedality: Foraging Efficiency Foraging efficiency ==> Bipedal standing while foraging • Better able to reach of ripe fruits • Shuffle from one branch to another • Chimps, baboons already do this Early hominins show a mixture of adaptations • Bipedal walkers • Upper bodies like apes • Spent time in trees as well
  28. 28. Benefits of bipedality: Keeping cool • Savanna hot during day = best time to avoid predators • Less surface area exposed to sun • Sweat allows cooling + wind increases cooling • Cooler higher above ground • More wind higher above ground • Hair loss improves effects of wind cooling, need less water BUT… first bipedal hominins likely lived in mixed woodland & forest

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