You are on page 1of 29

Human Evolution

and PREHISTORY

Chapter
 Six:
THE FIRST BIPEDS

Link to the Canadian Association for Physical Anthropology

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Chapter Preview

 What is the Anatomy of Bipedalism and How is it


Preserved in the Fossil Record?

 Who Were the Australopithecines and What Were


They Like?

 Why Had Australopithecus Become A Bipedal


Walker?

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
THE ANATOMY OF
BIPEDALISM
Shared derived characteristics distinguishing hominins

from the other African apes


§Position of foramen magnum is more forward


§S-shaped spinal column
§Wide and foreshortened pelvis
§“kneeing-in” of thigh bones (femora)
§Stable arched foot and absent opposable big toe
§Shorter toes

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
THE ANATOMY OF
BIPEDALISM

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
THE ANATOMY OF
BIPEDALISM

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Australopithecus
a well-known hominin
that lived between 4.2
and 1 mya in East and
South Africa
Bipedal when on the
ground
Apelike brain

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Australopithecus

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Early hominins

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Gracile Australopithecines

Ø 3.9 to 2 mya in East Africa


Ø 3.5 to 2.3 mya in South Africa
Ø Erect bipeds, about 1-1.5 m. in stature
Ø Apelike skull morphology
Ø Teeth for chewing food in a hominin fashion

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Gracile Australopithecines
Ø Earlier fossils show dental features similar to some
late Miocene apes; later South African fossils do
not
Ø Sexually dimorphic, in body size and canine tooth
size

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Gracile Australopithecines

Ø Foramen magnum is forward and downward-


looking, as in genus Homo
Ø Brain is about a third of a modern human brain in
size, and three times larger than Miocene apes
Ø Endocasts suggest that the human cerebral
reorganization has not yet occurred
Ø Blood drainage system for the brain is significantly
different from genus Homo

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Australopithecines
 Two indisputable facts:

1. Retention of some form of


adaptation to arboreal life

 2. Evolution of erect bipedal


position long before
acquiring highly enlarged
brain

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Robust Australopithecines
South Africa
Ø 1.8 to 1 million years ago
Ø Thick bones for their size,
with prominent muscle
markings
Ø Sagittal crest, for huge
temporal muscles (more
evident in males) – an
example of convergent
evolution in gorillas and
hominins

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Robust Australopithecines
East Africa

Ø 2.5 to 1.3 million years ago


Ø More massive skull and larger body size than
South African relatives
Ø Enormous molars, premolars, mandible and
palate

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Gracile-Robust Relationship
East African robust forms likely evolved from earlier gracile
forms in east Africa

In South Africa the robusts were either an offshoot of the


East African lineage, or convergent evolution from a
South African ancestor

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Robust-Homo Relationship

Robust australopithecines had evolved into highly


efficient and specialized consumers of plant food

Many anthropologists believe this allowed early Homo


and robust australopithecines to co-exist for 1.5
million years because they avoided competition for
the same ecological niche

 ** law of competitive exclusion


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
AUSTRALOPITHECINE
PREDECESSORS
 Sahelanthropus tchadensis (Chad)

§ 7-6 mya
§ Small canines and humanlike face
§ Probably bipedal
§ Recent 3D reconstruction confirms it is more
closely related to hominins
§ Likely close to common ancestor
§

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
AUSTRALOPITHECINE
PREDECESSORS
 Orrorin tugenensis (east Africa)

§ 6 mya
§ 13 fragments of lower jaw, teeth, thigh bones
§ Molars are thickly enameled like
Australopithecines, but smaller
§ Suggestion of bipedalism
§ Uncertain evolutionary relationship

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
AUSTRALOPITHECINE
PREDECESSORS
 Ardipithecus (east Africa)

§ 5.8 to 4.4 mya


§ Sp. kadabba and ramidus
§ Likely bipedal when on the ground
§ Mixture of ape and hominin dental features
§ Forested environment
§

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
AUSTRALOPITHECINE
PREDECESSORS
 Kenyanthropus platyops (east Africa)

§ Contemporary with early east African


australopithecines

§ Maeve Leakey sees her fossil as ancestral to the


genus Homo

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
AUSTRALOPITHECINE
PREDECESSORS
 Relationship to Hominins

Current evidence indicates that hominins evolved from late


Miocene apes, becoming distinct about 5 mya

More than one bipedal model emerged from this new primate
niche; one of them was Australopithecus

Are any of these predecessors ancestral to the australopithecines


or to chimpanzees, or did they become extinct?

Pattern in early hominin evolution has been short periods of


change, marked by prolonged periods of stasis


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ENVIRONMENT, DIET, AND
AUSTRALOPITHECINE ORIGINS
 Major climatic changes in the late Miocene:

Ø Drying up of the Mediterranean Sea


Ø Breaking up of forests

Ø Creation of a mosaic environment with more


open areas, interspersed with forest patches

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Effect of Climatic Change

1. Change in diet
 - less “tree” food
 - more open ground foraging, e.g. seeds,
grasses, roots
2. Change in dentition
 - smaller canine teeth
 - male canines became as small as those of
females

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Australopithecines and Tools

No evidence of toolmaking clearly associated with


Australopithecines, although hands of later
Australopithecines were suitable

Could Australopithecus have been a tool-user and


maker of simple tools such as bonobos and
chimpanzees today?

They could have used wooden tools, convenient


stones, animal bones

 COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
HUMAN BIPEDALISM
 Disadvantages
§ More visible to predators
§ Exposes soft underbelly
§ Interferes with ability to change direction instantly while
running
§ Not a fast locomotion method
§ Frequent lower back problems and circulatory problems
§ Serious impediment if one leg is injured
§

** all of these disadvantages placed our early hominin ancestors


at risk

 COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
HUMAN BIPEDALISM
 How did bipedalism become a viable adaptation?

 Possible selective pressures:


 1. Males gather and transport food to females, who were


restricted by dependency of offspring

 2. Nonterritorial, far-ranging scavenging, because a biped is


able to travel long distances without tiring

 3. To cope with heat stress out in the open


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ORIGINAL
STUDY
 The Naked and the Bipedal

Ø Upright stance greatly reduces the amount of the body’s


surface area that is directly exposed to the sun and
increases the amount exposed to the cooler breezes a few
feet above the ground
Ø

Ø Hair loss helps to lose more body heat


Ø

Ø The “naked biped” becomes an adaptation to the heat of the


savanna by keeping the brain cool and allowing for its
expansion

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
HUMAN BIPEDALISM

4. Bipedalism is far more economical than quadrupedal


locomotion at walking speed
5.

 The causes of bipedalism are likely to be multiple


 e.g. food transport AND carrying infants AND
reaching for food AND seeing predators AND
using hands as protection

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
NEXT TIME:

Homo habilis and Cultural


Origins

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


COPYRIGHT © 2008 Nelson Education Ltd. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.