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Human Evolution Cladogram
Transcript of Human Evolution Cladogram
*1 MYA per square
Cladogram of the Hominid Species
By: Hyung Jun Kim
Homo Habilis lived year between 2.4 million to 1.4 million years ago and lived in Eastern and Southern Africa. They are one of the earliest members of the genus Homo. Their physical characteristics became more like modern human; however, their long arms and a moderately-prognathic face which made them to retain some ape-like features. Also by looking at their skeleton frames such as limb proportion, they were still more like apes. They have developed their brain so it is slightly bigger compare to their ancestors, Australopithecus. They walked upright as their ancestor did but they had more modern type of foot arch, which made them to walk more efficiently. However, the biggest difference between Habilis and Afarensis were that they could use tools. With their modern-human-like hands and enlarged brain, scientists assume that those features allowed them to modify stones into basic tools and they used them as their name Homo Habilis: ‘handy man’ stands for. However, since there is no evidence found what they really used the tools for, people assume they used for their own protections and for food preparations. There are some archaic evidences that they used tools but it is unclear weather they were the real first one who used tools since several hominid species lived at the same period. With this ambiguous, their species were always have been a controversial topic ever since the discovery of mystery skull in Dmanisi in the Republic of Georgia. Those two skulls opened the possibilities for H. Habilis that they might be the direct ancestors of the modern day human; current theory assumes H. eargaster as a direct ancestor.
H. Habilis’s fossils first discovered in 1959 when two teeth were found in Olduvai George, Tanzania by a team led by Louis and Mary Leakey. After other discoveries of skeletons of other body parts, they officially announced new type of human ancestors were found and named them as Homo Habilis. However, this species were controversial as I mentioned before because of their ape-like limb structure and discovery of a partial skeleton in 1986, which showed that Homo Habilis was more ape-like. This shows us that the human species were still looked like ape till this stage. However, there were also some developments since their brain cases had become fuller and rounder due to expansion of brain and also forehead started to appear in the face which meant that they were more traits of more human as these species evolve. (Dorey, Fran. “Homo Habilis”; “Homo Habilis”)
Homo Erectus lived between 1.89 million to 143,000 years ago and in Northern, Eastern and Southern Africa as well as Western Asia. The first discovery was in 1891 in Indonesia by Eugene Dubois and his team named it as Pithecanthropus (later on changes to Homo) Erectus in 1894. This was the first hominid species, which has a modern human’s proportion of body. This is significant because it indicates they lost abilities to live on the trees completely, and adapted to the ground environment. They had similar features as modern human such as brains or body mass. Their height was 145~185 cm, which was similar to the modern day human but most of them were shorter and stockier. Their face was large with low, sloping forehead, a massive brown ridge and broad, flat noses to escape from the ape-like face. However, unlike the modern human they had sharp angels at the rear in their skull. Anyhow, the most important feature of this species is that they went across the Africa for first time. The reason why they needed to move beyond the Africa was their enlarged brain and body mass. Due to their big brain and body mass, they needed more energy that can fuel them effectively. As a solution they found meat as their primary food source or other foods with ample amount of protein. Therefore, to hunt and to get more foods they needed to migrate from place to place ending up going outside of Africa. This species is also controversial as H. Habilis because of its unique distribution. Almost all of the H.Erectus distributed in East Asia, especially China and Indonesia region. Therefore, scientists started to doubt about calling their similar species in Africa as H.Erectus. As a result, their families in Africa is currently named as Homo Eragster and they are considered as the direct ancestor of modern day human. Also, this species are considered as ancestor of H. Erectus. H.Erectus’s contribution to our evolution was huge. They were the first one who knew how to control the fire and their appearance finally got rid of ape-like features and turned into more modern days human. Anyhow, this amazing species made differences from them to other human species by mastering their walking skill and walked perfectly upright, as their name Homo Erectus (upright man) means, with their two feet while making the first tool innovation. The fossil discovery in China proved that Homo Erectus could make stone axes as well as making camp fire for cooking and other variety of purposes. When we think about that before, such as Homo Habilis who only had a ability of modifying stones, this was an amazing development since it means that they might had social interactions few million years ago, which means there are possibilities that they could sit around the camp fire at night and shared foods while communicating each other in some sort of their ‘language’. (Dorey, Fran. “Homo Erectus”; “Homo Erectus”)
Homo Sapiens is us! Who are living on the earth right now. We have been living on this planet since 300,000 years ago and built gigantic civilization. Our specie’s are from Africa and compare to the early human species we have lighter skeletons and very large size of brain. Our skull have short base with high braincase, back of the skull is rounded and indicates the reduction of neck muscle and finally the face became smaller, basically looking like our skull. Male Homo Sapiens’s average height was 175cm and they are nested in great ape families and shares characteristic with chimpanzees or gorillas. Our the most greatest improvement was the abilities of making tools other than stone tools. Human could survive the harsh environment by developing many new tools such as bows and arrows, spears, fishhooks and etc. Later on, human could make those tools out of metals instead of stone, which rapidly increased the survivability of human. Also, establishing cultures and civilization was the other reason how human could ‘conquer’ the planet.
Overtimes, human could evolve to H. Sapiens because of their abilities of using tools, control of fires, adapting quickly to harsh environment with their large size of brain and making innovations such as farming. However, the most interesting thing about Homo sapiens is that they had tremendous interest on the death. That is why they made the religion as well as the tradition of burying people when they die. They walked fully upright and had short, slender trunks and long limbs. (Dorey, Fran. “Homo Sapiens; “Homo Sapiens”)
Homo Neanderthalensis lived between about 200,000 to 28,000 years ago, which means they co-existed with the H. Sapiens once. They lived in Europe and Southwestern to Central Asia. The first discovery is made in 1828 but it was not accepted as other hominid species until other fossils were find out in second half of 19th century. The name of Neanderthalensis came from the region they were first found which was Neandertal, Germany. Currently, they are considered as human ancestor but not the direct ancestor since the genetic data shows that they are side branch in our family tree. They could walk completely upright and their brain size was slightly bigger than Homo sapiens. Also, they had long and low skull with a rounded brain case, which was like modern day human rather than apes. Obviously, they didn’t looked like apes at all. Their appearance was almost same as H.Sapiens, which differentiated them from their ancestors. Neanderthalensis shares some DNA with H. Sapiens by the result of interbreeding with H. Sapiens, which clarified in 2010 by genome research of Neanderthalensis.
Meanwhile, they had advanced technology to make tool kits and built hearths for cooking and protections. Surprisingly, they also knew how to wear clothes by wearing animal furs even though there is no evidence that those were sewed together. They were almost like the Homo Sapiens by looking at their appearance or other aspects such as having some cultures and some ways of communications. (Dorey, Fran. “Homo Neanderthalensis”; “Homo Neanderthalensis”)
Pan troglodytes or simply chimpanzees are the closest pan genus to Homo sapiens. As their 98~99% of DNA are similar to human’s and they also have abilities of walking upright in some situation, they are even more closer to human than gorillas (Pickrell). When we look at the family tree of hominini, we can see that we once shared common ancestor with them earlier (Goodall). With all these extreme similarities, some scientists started to argue that chimpanzee must join the Homo genus with the evidence of DNA similarities and other features such as using basic tools (Pickrell). Although they are similar to human but they have many differences. First of all, they don’t have culture like human does. Indeed, they have family groups, which is the archaic form of culture but it cannot considered be as culture (“Chimpanzee”). They can also communicate each other but it is very limited since most of their communication is only restricted on alarming dangers (Goodall). When we look closer to their community, we can see that it is extremely similar to our civilization in the beginning with the family groups and simple communications. In conclusion, those chimps are extremely close to human in terms of DNA but they are different from them since they cannot use complex tools, communicating by using complex languages or forming civilization. Most importantly they are very different than humans in terms of appearance and anatomy. Their skeletons, brain size, jaws, skulls are different and particular chimps have sharp teeth with big jaws as well as smaller size of brain while human has small jaws and huge brain (McDowell; Goodall).
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Homo Sapiens. Digital image. Australianmuseum. Australianmuseum, n.d. Web. 11 June 2013.
Homo Neanderthalensis. Digital image. Connecticutvalleybiological.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2013.
Australopithecus Afarensis. Digital image. Humanbeings. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2013.
Homo Erectus. Digital image. Cogweb. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2013.
Homo Habilis. Digital image. Wikimedia. Wikipedia, n.d. Web. 11 June 2013.
Evolutionhumans. Digital image. Wolfevolution. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2013.