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The Australopithecine and Early Hominin Thread

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  • It wouldn´t surprise me if H. erectus, Neanderthals or something similar were eventually found in North America. Plenty of creatures we think of as exclusively Asian today (dhole, tiger) seemingly did reach the New World during the Pleistocene, and not all at the same time. Maybe they just weren't abundant. 
    Native Americans certainly had many stories about hairy humanoids. The Lakota even called them chiye-tanka, "great elder brothers".




  • https://eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-07/aaft-ffo070218.php
    t 2½ years old, the Dikika child was already walking on two legs, but there are hints in the fossil foot that she was still spending time in the trees, hanging on to her mother as she foraged for food. Based on the skeletal structure of the child's foot, specifically, the base of the big toe, the kids probably spent more time in the trees than adults. "If you were living in Africa 3 million years ago without fire, without structures, and without any means of defense, you'd better be able get up in a tree when the sun goes down,"

    174688_web.jpg


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  • Some cool pictures of the skull!

    47508821_1218391038286133_8738659783223017472_n.jpg?_nc_cat=104&_nc_ht=scontent.fgdl5-1.fna&oh=e9cfd711c82a698ed40b6f1e0b8d100e&oe=5CAC92F6

    47574187_1218391021619468_4160029731481190400_n.jpg?_nc_cat=106&_nc_ht=scontent.fgdl5-1.fna&oh=6e98b80870344f9c8aeb3fe13b75038b&oe=5C9C8793




  • A change in the surrounding habitat and not necessarily extinction may be the cause behind the "hobbit"'s dissappearance from the cave's fossil record around 60.000 years ago.

    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/03/hobbit-humans-story-gets-twist-from-thousands-of-rat-bones/?fbclid=IwAR1mUlSGTP9oJflkJ7FMJ_veYtDdUe00pijLuGWAn8TYv2O4YLpz20iEW9w

    04-rats-liangbuarats-fig-02.jpg

    742a1cf673ea8addab3cfaca27ee7b99.jpg




  • Very interesting news! Remains found in a cave in Luzon, Philippines, have been recognized as a new species of tiny hominin, as small as Homo floresiensis, if not smaller. It has been named Homo luzonensis.

    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/04/new-species-ancient-human-discovered-luzon-philippines-homo-luzonensis/

    17059391518_5c26ddb3b5_b.jpg

    img_evelasco_20190410-171613_imagenes_lv_terceros_homo_luzonensis-kF5H-U461580618350UkF-992x558@LaVanguardia-Web.jpg

    Although the remains are fragmentary, they include teeth, toes and finger bones, and a partial femur, and come from at least three different individuals. The toe bones suggest a primitive foot shape probably associated with tree climbing- and similar to that of much older australopithecines.
    The 2010 paper that introduced the Callao cave foot bone—which is now considered a part of H. luzonensis—mentions that a deer bone found in the same sediments bears what look like stone-tool cut marks. Michael Petraglia, a paleoanthropologist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, takes the bone as a sign that H. luzonensis was a proficient toolmaker and hunter.

    There's also evidence thatH. luzonensis, or another ancient hominin, lived on Luzon even further back in time. In 2018, Mijares and his colleagues announced the discovery of stone tools and a butchered rhinoceros skeleton that are more than 700,000 years old, found not too far from Callao Cave. Because of the time gap between the remains and the tool site, however, it's tough to say whether the stone tool users were predecessors of H. luzonensis or an unrelated hominin.

    What remains unclear is what exactly was the relation between Homo floresiensis and Homo luzonensis, how the latter arrived to the island (which was never connected to the mainland), and whether the two species are (as often suggested) miniaturized Homo erectus, or rather part of a hitherto unknown radiation of more primitive, Australopithecus-like hominins that spread throughout Asia at some point.

    May as well mention that remains of tiny hominins were also reported years ago from Palau:

    https://www.science20.com/news_releases/were_there_hobbits_in_palau

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-humans-islands/tiny-palau-skeletons-suggest-hobbits-were-dwarfs-idUSN1059511220080310




  • This adds a bit to the hypotheses that Australopithecus or similar also left Africa, or maybe some parallel evolution was going on in Asia. Like I thought at the time they were found and described the Flores dudes being dwarf Erectus never sat well with me TBH. If we remove the expectation that the only hominids that left Africa were Erectus and took them and these new guys on face value they really don't look like Erectus.

    The associated tools are just as mind blowing for me. Small primitive looking hominids using a flake based tool set where you would not expect to find that was a what the hell? moment for me. It was hard enough to find pics and descriptions of those Flores tools at the time as everyone, certainly the media were obsessed with their stature. Tool use and possible hunting strategies in a hominid with tiny brains is a big part of the story for me. Though their tools remained the same throughout the hundreds of thousands of years. No innovation over time in that period.

    The tools associated them with Erectus and seems to have sealed the connection for many. I dunno, they're a basic flake and chopper based toolkit, though generally smaller to fit their physique. Erectus had similar, but they also had bifaces which Floresiensis didn't. the same tool designs have been found across different species before without any apparent contact so I can't see how the Erectus connection is any way definitive just going on the tools.

    Few enough were innocent in the past, few enough are innocent in the present, we just don’t know why yet.





  • Maybe Darwin was wrong after all.
    Creationism might not be as wrong as people think


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  • Adam Khor wrote: »
    What remains unclear is what exactly was the relation between Homo floresiensis and Homo luzonensis, how the latter arrived to the island (which was never connected to the mainland), and whether the two species are (as often suggested) miniaturized Homo erectus, or rather part of a hitherto unknown radiation of more primitive, Australopithecus-like hominins that spread throughout Asia at some point.
    Wibbs wrote: »
    This adds a bit to the hypotheses that Australopithecus or similar also left Africa, or maybe some parallel evolution was going on in Asia. Like I thought at the time they were found and described the Flores dudes being dwarf Erectus never sat well with me TBH. If we remove the expectation that the only hominids that left Africa were Erectus and took them and these new guys on face value they really don't look like Erectus.

    Were there parallel lineages of different hominin experiments unfolding early in our complex evolutionary history in different parts of the world?
    Maybe Darwin was wrong after all.
    Creationism might not be as wrong as people think
    The theory of evolution, especially associated variation and differential reproduction, continues to receive substantial empirical support; and so long as it does, it will continue to survive Karl Popper's falsifiability, unlike the pseudoscience of creationism that has zero merit towards describing or explaining the recent Homo luzonensis find.




  • Black Swan wrote: »
    The theory of evolution, especially associated variation and differential reproduction, continues to receive substantial empirical support; and so long as it does, it will continue to survive Karl Popper's falsifiability, unlike the pseudoscience of creationism that has zero merit towards describing or explaining the recent Homo luzonensis find.

    Thank you.

    I personally see nothing odd about australopithecines or australopithecine-like apes reaching Asia before H. erectus. There's plenty of other creatures that we associate with and presumably originated in Africa, such as the ostrich, giraffe, gelada, hippopotamus or spotted hyena- which were also found in Asia during the Pleistocene. And apparently australopithecine-like remains have also been reported from mainland China...




  • Friendly reminder that the island of Luzon is also home to the Philippine eagle, a huge, powerful monkey-eater. Presumably, the eagle would've been present already in the Pleistocene. The mind wanders...

    Philippine-Eagle-Close-up-photo2-by-Klaus-Nigge.jpg

    philippine-eagle-centre.jpg

    image7-e1423167890626.jpg




  • Raptor indeed!




  • This study provides evidence that modern humans evolved from an ancestor with an African ape-like foot associated with terrestrial plantigrady and vertical climbing. Hominin upright walking therefore likely emerged in the context of semi-terrestrial quadrupedalism.

    https://elifesciences.org/articles/44433

    default.jpg




  • Australopithecus sediba too recent to be ancestral to us.

    https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/australopithecus-sediba-not-likely-humans-ancestor--study-65857

    australopithecus-sediba-thumb-s.png
    “I had no doubt in my mind—nor did many in our field—that A. sediba could not have been the ancestor of Homo, not only because the earliest known representative of Homo is 800,000 years older, but also because A. sediba does not have all of the morphological features that one would expect to see from the earliest Homo,”
    The authors say the result supports the idea that the now-extinct hominin A. afarensis is probably the true ancestor of humans.




  • Australopithecus tracks found in Spain.

    I'm no expert but I don´t remember anything about Australopithecus evidence of any kind found outside of Africa until now. If that is the case then this is a really interesting find!

    Article is in Spanish.

    https://www.diariosur.es/culturas/huellas-prehominidos-antiguas-20190523123951-nt.html?fbclid=IwAR0XeFvilbcR5rIESqP4oKIQrxBNyaA3EHM9ILWgoHosqd4n9Xb_PkBNPo8

    Apparently the site has tracks of different kinds of primates, including more than one kind of hominin.

    Hallan-huellas-australopiteco-Alora-Malaga_EDIIMA20190523_1027_4.jpg

    epfotos20190523140857.jpg

    arc_319521_g-RO3Pt9IIck4Ej7rihNcn7KM-624x385@Diario%20Sur.jpg




  • If confirmed this could get very interesting. Particularly on top of the finds in Crete. If Australopithecus were wandering aorund outside Africa that far back it could change the maps on human evolution. It might also explain how Flores hominids look to have some Australopithecine features rather than later Erectus.

    While Africa is a great origin story for humanity for a few reasons it always struck me that we were maybe repeating the same bias as we had in the past with regard to Europe and Asia. When people first looked for the cradle of humanity they looked hardest in Europe and Asia and lo and behold found evidence of earlier hominids. Then Africa got the spotlight and lo and behold again they found evidence of earlier hominids. Where you look hard enough for something in an area you expect to find it, you then tend to find it.

    Now I would still believe that Africa is where the hominid line(s) got their starts I would be much more open to the idea that Asia and Europe had huge influences going on, influences that will come more and more to light.

    Few enough were innocent in the past, few enough are innocent in the present, we just don’t know why yet.





  • Wibbs wrote: »
    If confirmed this could get very interesting. Particularly on top of the finds in Crete.

    Here's an article about the find in Crete for those who missed it.

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170831134221.htm

    I still can´t help but to wonder whether other linneages of primates may have evolved human-like feet at some point. Not that I think there's anything strange or implausible about australopithecines leaving Africa- it's just, there was a lot of time and a lot of space for different creatures to evolve...




  • Fossils suggest "hobbit" ancestors were already small.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-36463668?fbclid=IwAR21P1Os7JWt7aO60M34CYpz9nSrGGFP8dvpuFNeO18oZwrI34wjUzUuoJE

    _89916936_jaw.jpg

    This coupled with the discovery of Homo luzonensis makes me wonder whether these guys actually "shrank", or rather were a relic of a time when tiny hominins roamed all across Africa and Asia and we just don´t know yet...


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  • https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44060-2
    This result is generally consistent with the hypothesis of relatively human-like (but perhaps slightly higher) sexual dimorphism for H. erectus, rather than the greater levels of dimorphism that have been hypothesized by recent fossil discoveries and analyses.

    aHR0cDovL3d3dy5saXZlc2NpZW5jZS5jb20vaW1hZ2VzL2kvMDAwLzA4NC83Mzkvb3JpZ2luYWwvaG9tby1lcmVjdHVzLWZvb3RwcmludHMuanBn

    srep28766-f1.jpg




  • Skull of Australopithecus anamensis found, suggests species gave rise to afarensis and coexisted with it for 100,000 years.

    5374742?w=1600&preview=1567086085140.jpg

    http://www.sci-news.com/othersciences/anthropology/australopithecus-anamensis-skull-07542.html





  • Homo erectus survived until about 100.000 years ago in Java, study suggests:

    https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-50827603

    _110224110_mediaitem110224109.jpg
    Researchers led by Prof Russell Ciochon of the University of Iowa in Iowa City opened up new excavations on the terraces beside the Solo River, reanalysing the site and its surroundings.

    They have provided what they describe as a definitive age for the bone bed of between 117,000 and 108,000 years old. This represents the most recent known record of Homo erectus anywhere in the world.

    (...)


    But why did Homo erectus survive so late on Java? In Africa, the species was probably gone by 500,000 years ago; in China it vanished some 400,000 years ago. Russell Ciochon thinks that it was probably outcompeted by other human species elsewhere, but Java's location allowed it to thrive in isolation.

    However, the results show the fossils came from a period when environmental conditions on Java were changing. What were once open woodlands were transforming into rainforest. Prof Ciochon thinks this could mark the exact point of extinction of Homo erectus on the island.


    No Homo erectus are found after this time, he explained, and there's a gap with no human activity at all until Homo sapiens turns up on Java around 39,000 years ago. Prof Ciochon believes H. erectus was too dependent on the open savannah and too inflexible to adapt to life in a rainforest.

    "Homo sapiens is the only hominin species that lives in a tropical forest," he explained. "I think it's mainly because of the cultural attributes of Homo sapiens - the ability to make all these specialised tools."

    "Once this rainforest flora and fauna spread across Java, that's the end of erectus."

    Maybe they were all eaten by tigers :pac:




  • Paranthropus arm bones discovered, suggest greater versatility/dexterity than previously thought:

    https://www.sciencenews.org/article/ancient-hominid-species-nutcracker-man-stone-tools

    022720_BB_boisei-arm_feat-1028x579.jpg




  • On Homo erectus' persistence hunting ability:

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047248419300077
    Our results showed that H. erectus would reach the dehydration limit in 5.5–5.7 h of persistence hunting at the reported Kalahari conditions, which we argue represent a conservative model also for Early Pleistocene East Africa. Maximum hunt duration without drinking was negatively related to the relative body surface area of the hunter. Moreover, H. erectus would be able to persistence hunt over 5 h without drinking despite possible deviations from modern-like heat dissipation capacity, aerobic capacity, and locomotor economy. We conclude that H. erectus could persistence hunt large prey without the need to carry water.

    VanArs_Figure-3.jpg




  • More on Homo erectus. This study finds that it would've had a shorter, wider, more voluminous rib cage than modern humans, being more similar in build to the Neanderthal.

    This contradicts the idea that they had flat chests and were of a lean build; it apparently also implies that they would've been heavier than we thought.

    ribcage-comparison-humans-homo-erectus-two-column.jpg.thumb.768.768.jpg

    In the latest study, Turkana Boy's adult shape (had he grown up) was predicted. The ribcage shape was compared with that of modern humans and a Neanderthal, and virtual animation allowed breathing motion to be investigated.

    'Its thorax was much wider and more voluminous than that of most people living today,' says Daniel García Martínez, one of the paper's authors based at the National Center for Research on Human Evolution in Spain.

    'Actually, the ribcage of H. erectus seems more like that of more stocky human relatives such as Neanderthals, who would have inherited that shape from H. erectus.

    'Our own body shape, with its flat, tall chest and narrow pelvis and ribcage, likely appeared only recently in human evolution with our species, Homo sapiens,' adds co-author Dr Scott Williams, Associate Professor at New York University.

    https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/news/2020/july/human-ancestor-homo-erectus-had-stocky-chest-of-a-neanderthal.html


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  • "Rhodesia man" skull (Homo heidelbergensis) shows no ancestral traits to our species:

    f0bb335a909750dfc1f5452414e52462

    https://news.yahoo.com/landmark-skull-fossil-provides-surprising-150935687.html
    wo sophisticated dating methods have determined the skull to be about 299,000 years old, plus or minus 25,000 years, said geochronologist Rainer Grün of Griffith University in Australia, lead author of the study published in the journal Nature. Some experts had hypothesized it was 500,000 years old.

    This indicates the species represented by the skull was unlikely to have been a direct ancestor of Homo sapiens as some had thought. Our species first appeared more than 300,000 years ago in Africa, later spreading worldwide.

    Scientists initially assigned the skull to a species they called Homo rhodesiensis. Most scientists now assign it to the species Homo heidelbergensis, which inhabited parts of Africa and Europe starting about 600,000 years ago.

    The skull, dubbed Rhodesian Man when it was discovered, possesses primitive features such as a large face, flat forehead and huge brow ridges. Its brain size fits in the range of our species.

    "It's a surprisingly late age estimate, as a fossil at about 300,000 years might be expected to show intermediate features between Homo heidelbergensis and Homo sapiens, but Broken Hill shows no significant features of our species," said Stringer, a study co-author.

    "Also, the latest research suggests that the facial shape of Homo heidelbergensis fossils does not fit an ancestral pattern for our species," Stringer added.


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