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Early Human Culture


Early Human Culture Homo habilis Homo rudolphensis Homo erectus ... (pollen evidence suggests 400,000) Finds at Ambrona and Torralba Artifacts found: ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Early Human Culture

Early Human Culture
  • Homo habilis
  • Homo rudolphensis
  • Homo erectus
  • Homo ergaster

Evolution of Humans
Homo habilis (ca. 2.5-1.6 mya)
H. habilis finds
  • Homo habilis was first discovered in 1959 in the
    Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania.
  • A nearly complete skull of H. habilis was
    discovered in 1972 at Koobi Fora on the shores of
    Lake Turkana in Kenya. Its age is estimated at
    1.8 million years and its brain capacity at 800
  • Other H. habilis remains have since been
    discovered at Olduvai Gorge. There is
    considerable variation among the specimens from
    this era found thus far.
  • Some anthropologists argue that the variations
    appear to indicate that several separate species
    of humans existed and competed at the same time
    in east Africa other scientists lump all the
    individuals together in a single species.

OH 7 (Type specimen)
Species Homo habilis
Age 1.75 million years
Date of Discovery November 4, 1960
Location Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania
Discovered by Jonathan Leakey
H. habilis finds
Olduvai Gorge Sites
Homo habilis
  • Brain size much bigger than Aus. (500-800)
  • Teeth smaller, thinner enamel, more parabolic
    dental arcade.
  • Skulls rounder, less prognathic, jaw muscles
  • East and South Africa, same time as robusts.
  • Handyman, associated with Pebble choppers.

KNM ER 1813
Species Homo habilis
Age 1.9 million years
Cranial Capacity 510cc
Date of Discovery 1973
Location Koobi Fora, Kenya
Discovered by Kamoya Kimeu
KNM ER 1470
Species Homo rudolfensis
Age 1.8 million years
Cranial capacity 775cc
Date of Discovery August 1972
Location Koobi Fora, Kenya
Discovered by Bernard Ngeneo
hablis vs. rudolphensis
First Stone ToolsOldowan Pebble Choppers
Oldowan Tool Variety
OLDOWAN TOOLS (left to right) end chopper,
heavy-duty scraper, spheroid hammer stone
(Olduvai Gorge) flake chopper (Gadeb) bone
point, horn core tool or digger (Swartkrans)
Tool Technology
  • Oldowan Pebble Choppers
  • rounded pebbles
  • portions broken to form sharp edge
  • flakes used for butchering
  • Bone points and horn cores

These crude hand axes and stone flakes could have
been manufactured as needed or as opportunity
arose. The fracture lines of stones create a
sharp cutting surface capable of butchering
fairly large animals. The photo above right shows
a modern anthropologist skinning a calf with a
stone tool made just as ancient Homo habilis
would have done.
  • The background of the photo shows the kind of
    environment in which this earliest-known human
    species lived--open bush and savannah country in
    east Africa.
  • This must have been a very challenging
    environment, filled with large predators.

  • Meat eating
  • Home base, food sharing, sexual division of
  • Archaeological evidence
  • Animal bones and stone tools at sites (Olduvai)
  • Hunting or Scavenging?

"Hunting Hypothesis"
  • One widely held view of human development has
    held that hunting as an activity was the chief
    driver of evolutionary change in early humans, as
    it would have selected for for certain kinds of
    intelligence, coordination, and aggressive
  • Was Homo habilis a hunter of large game and a
    successful competitor with the great predators of
    Africa--lions, leopards, hyenas? Or was this
    species an opportunistic taker of small game and
    a scavenger?
  • Present evidence cannot answer the question, but
    a scavenging role seems more likely.

Homo erectus Traits
  • Homo erectus lived from approximately 2 million
    to around 400,000 years ago.
  • Homo erectus is a large brained species, with
    adult brains ranging from 900 to 1200 cc.
  • This size range means that the larger brained
    individuals of this species exhibit a
    fifty-percent increase in brain size over the
    older Homo habilis.
  • The largest brain sizes of H. erectus fall within
    the range of modern humans, although the H.
    erectus brain is configured somewhat differently
    than our own.

  • Were from the neck down almost exactly like
  • Had no chin, thick and big brow ridges
  • Bigger teeth than moderns
  • Males were much bigger than females, but this
    changes over time
  • More robust body
  • Body Size
  • male170cm,66kg
  • female150cm, 56kg

Height comparisons
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Acheulian Hand Axes
  • Homo erectus was an accomplished tool maker and
    tool user hand-axes were widely used in addition
    to sharp-edged flakes.
  • The tools of Homo erectus are the first in the
    fossil record to show conscious design of any
  • Wooden tools and weapons are also assumed to be
    present in the tool kit of this species, but none
    has been preserved in the fossil record.

Acheulian Innovations
  • The key innovations are
  • (1) the shaping of an entire stone to a
    stereotyped tool form, and
  • (2) chipping the stone from both sides to produce
    a symmetrical (bifacial) cutting edge.
  • Manufacture shifted from flakes struck from a
    stone core to shaping a more massive tool by
    careful repetitive flaking.
  • The most common tool materials were quartzite,
    glassy lava, chert and flint.

Acheulian Hand Axe
ACHEULEAN TOOLS (left to right) cleaver stone
(Bihorei oest, France) lanceolate hand ax
(Briqueterie, France) large hand ax (Olduvai
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Controlled Use of Fire
  • H. erectus may have been the first species to use
    and control fire.
  • This milestone in human development occurred 1 to
    1.5 million years ago.
  • Control of fire may have enabled humans to move
    out of Africa and into colder climates in Europe
    and Asia.

Use of Fire
  • Homo erectus invented fire
  • To cook food, scare away animals and travel to
    colder places
  • controlled fire

Migrate Out-of-Africa
  • The earliest specimens of Homo erectus are found
    in Africa, but, sometime after 1 million years
    ago, Homo erectus apparently migrated out of
  • Tools and remains of this species have been found
    widely distributed in Europe and Asia.
  • Homo erectus is thus the first human species to
    migrate out of Africa and adapt to a variety of
    Old World environments.

Olorgesailie, Kenya
  • This Acheulian site is located about 90
    kilometres south-west of Nairobi on the road to
  • The site of Olorgesailie, donated to the Kenyan
    Government by the Maasai community, covers an
    area of 52 acres.
  • First discovered by Mary Leakey in 1942, this
    site was excavated continuously between 1942 and
    1947. The area continues to be under
    investigation to this date, with a team from the
    Smithsonian Institution, USA, making annual
    surveys and excavations.
  • Olorgesailie is the largest of the National
    Museums' prehistoric sites, and is characterised
    by in situ displays of prehistoric materials,
    including numerous hand axes and fossilised
    skeletons of extinct species of elephant and a

  • A view of the Catwalk Site shows a jumble of
    stone tools left by our ancestors, buried by the
    sediments of a local stream channel nearly
    900,000 years ago, and then re-exposed to the
    elements by recent erosion. These areas of
    erosion allow us to find the actual layer of
    burial in the nearby hillside.

Ambrona and Torralba
  • At Ambrona and Torralba in central Spain, bands
    of hunters drove elephants into swamps, killed
    the mired animals, and butchered them where they
  • Similar kill sites have come from eastern and
    southern Africa, but we can be sure that wild
    plant foods were still of great importance in the
  • This site (and the nearby site of Ambrona) have
    been proposed as evidence of coordinated hunting
    behavior by Acheulean people between 400,000 and
    200,000 years old (pollen evidence suggests

Finds at Ambrona and Torralba
  • Artifacts found
  • over 1000 stone tools
  • animal bones
  • gt 30 elephants
  • 25 deer
  • 25 horses
  • 10 cattle
  • several rhinos
  • All skeletons disarticulated , many bones
    smashed/split, almost all elephant skulls missing
    as are many meat-bearing bones, charcoal but no
    hearths or ash concentrations or burned
    depressions, bits of charcoal scattered in among

  • The earliest Homo erectus finds are in the Rift
    Valley of Africa and in South Africa.
  • Stone tools and camp sites are widely distributed
    over Africa, including sites in what is now the
    Sahara desert. By at least 1 million years ago,
    H. erectus migrated out of Africa to Asia and
  • Recent dating techniques applied to earlier finds
    in Java and the Caucasus mountains indicate dates
    much earlier than that and would place Homo
    erectus in Asia over 2 million years ago.
  • Such early dates would, if proven accurate,
    dramatically overturn the currently accepted
    chronology of early human development.
  • At this date, however, the earliest claimed dates
    for H. erectus outside of Africa are still highly

Homo Erectus
Asia (cold)
Europe (cold)
Africa (hot)
Australia (hot)
Important Finds
  • Narikatome Boy
  • Discovered by Kamoya Kimeu
  • Peking Man
  • Was found near Beijing
  • Name used for the bones of an extinct hominid
  • Reconstruction of Peking man Skull
  • Peking man pic

Narikatome Boy
  • The nearly full skeleton at the right belonged to
    a teen-age boy, 12 or 13, who lived 1.65 years
    ago near what is now Lake Turkana in east Africa.
  • He was five feet, four inches tall, and his body
    is remarkably modern looking.
  • This is the most complete find of an ancient
    human ancestor yet discovered, and it has
    provided a wealth of information.
  • Yet this immature male had already surpassed a
    height of five feet at the time of his death, and
    probably would have attained a height of 6 feet
    and a weight of roughly 150 lbs.

Homo ergaster in Africa
  • ER 3733 represents a mature female of the early
    human species Homo ergaster.
  • The gender identification comes from a comparison
    of the anatomical features of her face with
    another Koobi Fora for a cranium KNM ER 3883, and
    the KNM WT 15000 male, found on the opposite side
    of Lake Turkana.
  • The features of KNM ER 3733 are markedly less
    robust. It's known to be an adult on the basis of
    the cranial sutures (which were fully closed),
    the extent of the wear on the teeth, and the
    eruption of the third molars before the
    individual's death.

Homo ergaster (ER3733)
  • Note the difference in the shape of the cranium.
    On the top, H. erectus has a long cranium with a
    "transverse torus," a protruding area of bone at
    the back of the braincase.
  • H. ergaster has a more globe-shaped braincase
    that lacks this torus.
  • Although the African cranium and the East Asian
    reconstruction both depict females, the later H.
    erectus (right) exhibits larger browridges.

H. erectus
H. ergaster
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