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The Ecology of Human Origins

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Title: The Ecology of Human Origins


1
The Ecology of Human Origins
  • (Human Paleontology,
  • Archeology, Paleoclimatology)

2
Who are we, ecologically speaking?(Who am I?)
  • NOT the title of a song by The Who
  • NOT (in this class) based on anything other than
    the scientific evidence
  • A question of taxonomy, cladistics, genetics
  • Using fossils and lately, DNA evidence
  • Material culture finds, archeology
  • Anthropology, descriptions of primitive
    cultures
  • History of human settlement patterns and land use
  • Highly controversial, contested area of study
  • All kinds of fun, but also serious self-knowing

3
Who are we?Great Apes or Pongids
  • Includes gorillas, chimps, baboons, gibbons
  • And all pre-hominid and hominid species
  • And YOU!

4
Chimpanzee tool use. Slide by Michael Nick
Nichols.
5
Chimpanzee scavenges meat. Slide by Michael
Nick Nichols.
6
Parental care, mountain gorilla, Rwanda. Slide
by Michael Nick Nichols.
7
Human Paleontology 6 mya-1 mya
  • Between 6 and 1.5 million years ago, there were
    many different species of proto-hominid apes in
    Africa
  • Modern humans evolved from one of these species,
    but we dont know for sure which one
  • We call these animals Australopithecines
    (southern ape-men)

8
Primate family tree
9
Human taxonomy
With help from everything2.com
10
From the Smithsonian Institution Human Family
Tree
Interactive version http//www.mnh.si.edu/anthro/
humanorigins/ha/a_tree.html
11
Australopithecines
  • Omnivorous apes (ecological adaptation)
  • Some fully bipedal
  • Many species, several million years in existence
  • Famously Lucy, (A. afarensis)
  • Site Hadar, Ethiopia

12
Lucy a gracile australopithecine, and Hadar,
Ethiopia, the site where she was found.
Slides wikipedia, and Institute of Human Origins
13
FromThe Ape that Took Over the World BBC 2 TV
program 9.00pm Thursday 4 October 2001
(Forensic reconstruction)
14
FromViewpoint Is It Time to Revise the System
of Scientific Naming? Lee R. Berger for National
Geographic News December 4, 2001
An anthropologist works on a model of an
Australopithecus skull in a still from a
television special on human origins Photograph
by Karen Huntt
Forensic Reconstruction
15
From www.modernhumaorigins.com, Photograph by
John Reader.
Fossilized footprints of an australopithecine
family group crossing volcanic debris at Laetoli
in Tanzania
16
From www.modernhumaorigins.com, Photograph by
John Reader.
Close up of a footprint from Laetoli in Tanzania
17
Technological Ages of Humanity The Paleolithic
  • Paleo old
  • Lithic stone
  • The Old Stone Age, the age when humans used
    crude stone tools in hunting and gathering
  • During pleistocene epoch (highly glaciated
    climate)
  • Longest period of human history, longest
    successful ecological adaptation, covers all
    inhabited continents (ie, not Antarctica)
  • Homo habilis, H. ergaster, H. erectus, H.
    florensis H. sapiens neandertalis, H. sapiens
    sapiens,

18
From the Smithsonian Institution Human Family
Tree
Interactive version http//www.mnh.si.edu/anthro/
humanorigins/ha/a_tree.html
19
Homo habilis
  • Olduvai Gorge site,
  • Tanzania
  • Leakey excavations
  • Proximity of tools
  • A possible shelter
  • Omnivore, scavenger
  • Using tools to fend off cats, dogs, other
    predators
  • Paleolithic (old stone age) culture

Slide Institute of Human Origins
20
Impressions of Homo Habilis from the BBC show
Food for Thought http//www.bbc.co.uk/sn/prehisto
ric_life/human/human_evolution/food_for_thought1.s
html
21
Photograph of a Homo habilis skull from Origins
of Human Kind Web Page
22
OLDOWAN CHOPPER CORES OLDUVAI GORGE, TANZANIA
AFRICA UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA--BERKELEY AND
CRAFT RESEARCH CENTER COLLECTIONS
23
OLDOWAN FLAKE TOOL OLDUVAI GORGE, TANZANIA
AFRICA UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA--BERKELEY, DEPT.
OF ANTHROPOLOGY COLLECTION
24
Homo erectus
  • Rapid dispersion
  • Occupied much of Africa, Europe, Asia
  • (Therefore) highly adaptive to different
    ecosystems
  • Several different species
  • First use of fire

25
From the Smithsonian Institution Human Family
Tree
Interactive version http//www.mnh.si.edu/anthro/
humanorigins/ha/a_tree.html
26
Artists impression of Homo erectus from
http//www.geocities.com/palaeoanthropology/Herect
us.html
27
From http//www-personal.une.edu.au/pbrown3/zhk.
html
28
Evidence of fire
  • From about 400 000 years ago proper
    hearths--rings of stones--burnt bones, and other
    clear evidence of fire become common throughout
    Europe. New finds are made nearly every year with
    recent discoveries, soon to be described in more
    detail, including Beeches Pit in Suffolk,
    Britain, and SchØ ningen in Germany.
  • the 400 000 year old SchØ ningen site is
    particularly significant because beautifully
    carved wooden spears and butchered horse remains
    were also found there. The wooden spears have
    been a huge shock to researchers, forcing them to
    accept that late Homo erectus was a skilled
    hunter and skilled tool maker.

From New Scientist, John McCrone, May 2000
29
Homo sapiens neandertalis
  • Most recent anatomically distinct relative
    (pending outcome of Homo floresiensis debate)
  • Advanced stone tools
  • Cold hardy survived glacial climates
  • Successful and widely dispersed
  • Highly sensationalized
  • Higher culture possibly religion, music

30
From the Smithsonian Institution Human Family
Tree
Interactive version http//www.mnh.si.edu/anthro/
humanorigins/ha/a_tree.html
31
From poster for The Neanderthal Man, a B-grade
movie from 1953
32
From Channel 4 TV program Neanderthal,
http//www.channel4.com/history/microsites/N/neand
erthal/
33
From scientific illustrator Jay Matternes, from
the October issue of Science 81
34
This reconstruction depicts the adult male
Neanderthal unearthed at the Amud cave site in
Israel.
From Scott J. Brown Neanderthals and Modern
Humans A Regional Guide
35
Neandertals are the first pre- Homo sapiens
species for which we have DNADNA evidence
primer
  • Basic to CSI
  • Basic to modern medicine
  • Tool for game wardens
  • And, basic to modern evolutionary theory

36
Types of human DNA
  • Nuclear, sexually recombining, DNA
  • Inherited equally from both parents, subject to
    Mendelian genetics
  • Y-chromosome DNA
  • Male line only
  • Inherited only from father to son
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Inherited only from the mother

37
Mitochondrial DNA Analysis
  • Mitochondria have their own genome of about
    16,500 base pairs that exists outside of the
    (sexually reproducing) cell nucleus. Each
    contains 13 protein coding-genes.
  • They are present in large numbers in each cell,
    so fewer samples are required. 
  • They have a higher and more regular rate of
    mutation, unaffected by sexual recombination. The
    process of recombination in nuclear DNA (except
    the Y chromosome) mixes sections of DNA from the
    mother and the father creating a garbled genetic
    history.
  • They are inherited only from the mother, which
    allows tracing of a direct genetic line. 
  • Applies similarly to Y chromosome DNA

Adapted from Mitochondrial DNA Clarifies Human
Evolution by Max Ingman, http//www.actionbioscien
ce.org/evolution/ingman.html
38
Mitochondrial DNA Analysis
  • The FBI Laboratory began conducting studies on
    the feasibility of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)
    analysis for human identity testing in the late
    1980s. Laboratory research began on a protocol
    for using mtDNA sequencing in forensic casework
    in 1992. After the sequencing technique was
    validated, examinations on evidentiary samples
    began in June 1996.
  • MtDNA sequencing is often used in cases where
    biological evidence may be degraded or small in
    quantity. Cases in which hairs, bones, or teeth
    are the only evidence retrieved from a crime
    scene are particularly well-suited to mtDNA
    analysis. Missing persons cases can benefit from
    mtDNA testing when skeletonized remains are
    recovered and compared to samples from the
    maternal relatives or personal effects of missing
    individuals. Also, hairs recovered at crime
    scenes can often be used to include or exclude
    individuals using mtDNA testing. This review will
    examine the process of mitochondrial DNA typing,
    including the interpretation of results, the
    phenomenon of heteroplasmy, the mtDNA population
    database, presentation of mtDNA population
    statistics, quality assurance issues, and
    testimonial experience.

From Isenberg et al, Mitochondrial DNA Analysis
at the FBI Laboratory, http//www.fbi.gov/hq/lab/f
sc/backissu/july1999/dnatext.htmIntroduction
39
From Science, Science, 277176-8 ANTHROPOLOGY
DNA From an Extinct Human July 10, 1997
Patricia Kahn and Ann Gibbons
40
MtDNA from this Ice-Age skeleton from Wales
suggests that modern humans living just after
Neanderthals had vanished were already
genetically like us
From Scott J. Brown Neanderthals and Modern
Humans A Regional Guide
41
Out of Africa MtDna
  • Cann RL, Stoneking M, Wilson AC.
  • Mitochondrial DNAs from 147 people, drawn from
    five geographic populations have been analysed by
    restriction mapping. All these mitochondrial DNAs
    stem from one woman who is postulated to have
    lived about 200,000 years ago, probably in
    Africa. All the populations examined except the
    African population have multiple origins,
    implying that each area was colonised repeatedly.
  • Abstract, Nature. 1992 Apr 2356(6368)389-90.

42
The McDonald Institute for Archaeological
Research, University of Cambridge
43
Map of human migration
44
Homo sapiens sapiens
  • Spends the paleolithic in Africa during ice ages
  • Comes out of Africa to the Middle East and beyond
    repeatedly after about 100kya
  • Competitively excludes Homo sapiens neandertalis
    (?)
  • Spends the mesolithic in most of old world and
    colonizes the new world about 13.5 kya
  • Neolithic revolution about 10kya or so in Middle
    East
  • Copper, bronze, iron ages in the old world
  • New world remains in neolithic or mesolithic
    except for isolated use of copper and other soft
    metals (the Aztec gold)

45
Technological Ages of Humanity The Mesolithic
  • Meso middle
  • Lithic stone
  • The Middle Stone Age, the age when humans used
    more advanced stone tools in hunting and
    gathering
  • More dense populations, more intense utilization
    of resources, different ecosystems, resources,
    eg shellfish
  • Term mesolithic only applies to Asian, Middle
    East, but similar niches were occupied by some
    paleo-americans
  • Sites Hayonim Cave site, Israel

46
Damariscotta Shell Midden, Maine, 1886(A
sedentary hunting/gathering site)
47
The Mesolithic Toolkit
  • Small flint blades (microliths) and carefully
    produced flint axes, adzes, and picks were
    widespread
  • Ground stone axes were used in parts of northern
    and western Europe
  • Projectile points became smaller
  • People made permanent settlements for the first
    time
  • Source Jason F. McBrayer.

48
Polished stone axe from Langdale Pike axe
factory, and the Pike itself.
Sources John Dawson and the Isle of Wight
History center
49
From Scott J. Brown Neanderthals and Modern
Humans A Regional Guide
  • For tens of thousands of years, the Neanderthals
    roamed as hunters and gatherers over the plains,
    forests, and mountains of northern and western
    Eurasia. Then during the middle of the last Ice
    Age, over a period of about 10 millennia, from
    roughly 40,000 to 30,000 years ago, a new type of
    human began to proliferate in the Neanderthals'
    domain.
  • Who?

50
Technical Ages of HumanityThe Neolithic
  • Neo new
  • Lithic stone
  • The New Stone Age, the age when humans used
    advanced stone tools
  • Also a new adaptation agriculture
  • And a New World America
  • Climate change movie

51
Homo sapiens sapiens
  • Us, thats who
  • Not much different from neandertalis, but
    anatomic variation is measurable
  • Competes with and ecologically excludes
    neandertalis?
  • Share 98 of DNA with chimpanzees
  • Appears 100KYA or so
  • Advanced stone tools, culture, language
  • mtDNA analysis suggests modern humans are very
    closely related, from out of Africa.
  • Theres no discernable racial differences in
    existing races of human DNA, only superficial
    characteristics so is there such a thing as race?

52
From the Smithsonian Institution Human Family
Tree
Interactive version http//www.mnh.si.edu/anthro/
humanorigins/ha/a_tree.html
53
Scara Brae A neolithic village site From Orkney
government http//www.orkneyjar.com/history/skara
brae/
54
From Orkney government http//www.orkneyjar.com/h
istory/skarabrae/
55
From Orkney government http//www.orkneyjar.com/h
istory/skarabrae/
56
Otzi, the Iceman, from NOVA onine, PBS
57
Oetzi the Iceman while still frozen in the
glacier, photographed by Helmut Simon upon the
discovery of the body in September 1991.
58
Einkorn wheat, from Oetzis clothes. From NOVA
online.
59
Oetzi
  • In glacial ice for 5,300 years
  • Well-preserved, including DNA
  • An adze or ice-axe copper working
  • Bow, arrows a hunter
  • Grass cloak
  • Einkorn wheat had contact with agricultural
    community or used both lifestyles

60
Where Oetzi was found, the Schnalstal glacier
From South Tyrol Museum of Archeology
61
a cap, hide coat, grass cloak, leggings, belt,
loincloth and a pair of shoes. It is remarkable
that no woven materials were used, only tanned
leather and a grass coat. The stitching threads
were made mainly of animal sinews and only in
part of plants, above all grasses and to a lesser
extent bast. From South Tyrol Museum web pages
62
The Iceman was fully and efficiently equipped
for his last trip into the high mountains. This
enabled him to look after himself for a long time
while he was away from home. He was also in a
position to repair or replace by himself any
piece of equipment which got damaged. In
particular, the rationality and functionality of
his equipment are worth emphasizing. From South
Tyrol museum webpage
63
Oetzis last day (from the BBC)
  • According to the present DNA analysis, the last
    journey of the warrior/hunter was made through a
    coniferous woodland at an intermediate altitude,
    where he possibly had a first meal, composed of
    cereals, other plant food, and ibex meat, and
    ended with his death in a rocky basin at over
    3,200 metres above sea level, not before his
    having had a further meal based on red deer meat
    and, possibly, cereals.
  • Dr Rollo added "We were very impressed by the
    quality of the meals he had. The diet of people
    living at this time included rabbit, rats,
    squirrel - all sorts of things. But the iceman,
    in his last two meals, had red deer and ibex
    meat. It was a real medieval banquet!"

64
Oetzis last day (from the BBC)
  • Scientists have already established that Oetzi
    was about 159 centimetres (five feet, 2.5 inches)
    tall, 46 years old, arthritic, and infested with
    whipworm at the time of death.
  • High levels of copper and arsenic in his hair
    indicate he had been involved in copper
    smelting.

65
Oetzis last day (from the BBC)
  • The wound in the hand suggests Oetzi may have
    been engaged in hand-to-hand combat very shortly
    before he died.
  • The injury to the back of the shoulder has led
    some researchers to the view that Oetzi was shot
    as he fled the confrontation.

66
A last battle?
From the BBC
67
Conclusions?
  • The most reasonable, conservative scientific
    conclusions?
  • Not many
  • We almost certainly came out of Africa
  • We arent too far from our closest relatives,
    genetically speaking
  • Theres probably no such thing as race since we
    are so indistinct from each other genetically and
    so close to chimps

68
Other human ecological points of view, with
difficult political ramifications
  • We are animals
  • We are not peaceful animals
  • We are omnivorous
  • We have, and need, communities
  • We have religion, which is important socially
  • We die out and become extinct like other animals
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