|The First Art Newspaper on the Net
||Established in 1996
|| Monday, May 29, 2017
|Smithsonian Scientist and collaborators revise timeline of human origins|
These fossil skulls, representing pre-erectus Homo and Homo erectus, exhibit diverse traits and indicate that the early diversification of the human genus was a period of morphological experimentation. Kenyan fossil casts (Chip Clark, Smithsonian Human Origins Program); Dmanisi Skull 5 (Guram Bumbiashvili, Georgian National Museum).
WASHINGTON, DC.- Many traits unique to humans were long thought to have originated in the genus Homo between 2.4 and 1.8 million years ago in Africa. Although scientists have recognized these characteristics for decades, they are reconsidering the true evolutionary factors that drove them.
A large brain, long legs, the ability to craft tools and prolonged maturation periods were all thought to have evolved together at the start of the Homo lineage as African grasslands expanded and Earths climate became cooler and drier. However, new climate and fossil evidence analyzed by a team of researchers, including Smithsonian paleoanthropologist Richard Potts, Susan Antón, professor of anthropology at New York University, and Leslie Aiello, president of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, suggests that these traits did not arise as a single package. Rather, several key ingredients once thought to define Homo evolved in earlier Australopithecus ancestors between 3 and 4 million years ago, while others emerged significantly later.
The teams research takes an innovative approach to integrating paleoclimate data, new fossils and understandings of the genus Homo, archaeological remains and biological studies of a wide range of mammals (including humans). The synthesis of these data led the team to conclude that the ability of early humans to adjust to changing conditions ultimately enabled the earliest species of Homo to vary, survive and begin spreading from Africa to Eurasia 1.85 million years ago. Additional information about this study is available in the July 4 issue of Science.
Potts developed a new climate framework for East African human evolution that depicts most of the era from 2.5 million to 1.5 million years ago as a time of strong climate instability and shifting intensity of annual wet and dry seasons. This framework, which is based on Earths astronomical cycles, provides the basis for some of the papers key findings, and it suggests that multiple coexisting species of Homo that overlapped geographically emerged in highly changing environments.
Unstable climate conditions favored the evolution of the roots of human flexibility in our ancestors, said Potts, curator of anthropology and director of the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonians National Museum of Natural History. The narrative of human evolution that arises from our analyses stresses the importance of adaptability to changing environments, rather than adaptation to any one environment, in the early success of the genus Homo.
The team reviewed the entire body of fossil evidence relevant to the origin of Homo to better understand how the human genus evolved. For example, five skulls about 1.8 million years old from the site of Dmanisi, Republic of Georgia, show variations in traits typically seen in African H. erectus but differ from defining traits of other species of early Homo known only in Africa. Recently discovered skeletons of Australopithecus sediba (about 1.98 million years old) from Malapa, South Africa, also include some Homo-like features in its teeth and hands, while displaying unique, non-Homo traits in its skull and feet. Comparison of these fossils with the rich fossil record of East Africa indicates that the early diversification of the genus Homo was a period of morphological experimentation. Multiple species of Homo lived concurrently.
We can tell the species apart based on differences in the shape of their skulls, especially their face and jaws, but not on the basis of size, said Antón. The differences in their skulls suggest early Homo divvied up the environment, each utilizing a slightly different strategy to survive.
Even though all of the Homo species had overlapping body, brain and tooth sizes, they also had larger brains and bodies than their likely ancestors, Australopithecus. According to the study, these differences and similarities show that the human package of traits evolved separately and at different times in the past rather than all together.
In addition to studying climate and fossil data, the team also reviewed evidence from ancient stone tools, isotopes found in teeth and cut marks found on animal bones in East Africa.
Taken together, these data suggest that species of early Homo were more flexible in their dietary choices than other species, said Aiello. Their flexible dietprobably containing meatwas aided by stone tool-assisted foraging that allowed our ancestors to exploit a range of resources.
The team concluded that this flexibility likely enhanced the ability of human ancestors to successfully adapt to unstable environments and disperse from Africa. This flexibility continues to be a hallmark of human biology today, and one that ultimately underpins the ability to occupy diverse habitats throughout the world. Future research on new fossil and archaeological finds will need to focus on identifying specific adaptive features that originated with early Homo, which will yield a deeper understanding of human evolution.
July 4, 2014
Art installation by Portuguese artist Joao Onofre features death metal group in a box
Joint exhibition by Helmut and June Newton opens at The Helmut Newton Foundation
First retrospective in 25 years of work by Garry Winogrand on view at the Metropolitan Museum
Smithsonian Scientist and collaborators revise timeline of human origins
New body of work by artist Mickalene Thomas debuts at Lehmann Maupin in New York
V&A announces pioneering collaboration to create the first major museum of design in China
Kapoor, Auerbach, Calder, Fontana & Banksy top Bonhams £4m Post-War & Contemporary Art Sale
'A History. Art, architecture, design from the 1980s until today' at the Centre Pompidou
Original copies of US Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights to be displayed in UK for first time
Life-size indoor maze takes over National Building Museum this summer
Muhammad Ali, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig lead Heritage Platinum Night sports offerings
'Signed, Special and Affordable' - Auction Zero's sale features 100+ lots of superb, signed designer jewelry
Miranda Lash appointed as new Curator of Contemporary Art at the Speed Art Museum
Exhibition of studio quilts with vibrant abstract and geometric designs opens in Ithaca
RRRGGHH!!! Jerry Kearns' first solo exhibition with Mike Weiss Gallery on view in New York
Unique Tibet Victoria Cross Medal group sells for a UK auction record £408,000
'Paul Laffoley: The Life and Death of Elvis Presley: A Suite' opens at Carl Solway Gallery
Yorkshire Sculpture Park presents open-air sculpture by Tracey Emin
Mercedes limousine once owned by colleague of Chairman Mao to sell at Bonhams
Discover the political marketing of the Union nationale at the Canadian Museum of History
300-year-old battle armour brings the epic tales of Japanese history to life
'Temple of the arts' restored to its original splendour for the first time in over 100 years
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- Art community remains divided over Caravaggio found in French attic
2.- Stedelijk Museum presents a snapshot of Rineke Dijkstra's photographic and video work
3.- Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens mourns death of Dina Merrill
4.- Exhibition of new paintings by Gerhard Richter opens at Albertinum in Dresden
5.- 18th-century French paintings from across America on view at National Gallery of Art
6.- Major retrospective of Robert Rauschenberg opens at the Museum of Modern Art
7.- Canaletto exhibition reunites two of the Venetian master's greatest series of paintings
8.- King Tutankhamun's bed, chariot paraded through Cairo to new home
9.- Junk sale diamond ring bought for £10 worth a fortune
10.- Exhibition sheds light on one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century: What will we eat in the future?
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.