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Early Hominid Behavior Australopithecine/Paranthropus


Early Hominid Behavior Australopithecine/Paranthropus Early Human Behavior Evidence in South Africa Swartkrans Kromdraii Sterkfontain Swartkrans, South Africa ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Early Hominid Behavior Australopithecine/Paranthropus

Early Hominid Behavior Australopithecine/Paranthro
Early Human Behavior
  • Evidence in South Africa
  • Swartkrans
  • Kromdraii
  • Sterkfontain

Swartkrans, South Africa
  • Swartkrans has provided the largest sample (more
    than 126 individuals) of the fossil hominid known
    as Paranthropus robustus.
  • This hominid is only found in South Africa,
    becoming extinct around one million years ago.
  • Also, Swartkrans contributed the first evidence
    for the co-existence of two different types of
    hominds, Homo erectus and Paranthropus robustus.

Swartkrans, South Africa
  • This was the first indication to the scientific
    community that hominid evolution did not occur in
    a linear fashion from one species to the next, to
    eventually us, Homo sapiens.
  • Instead, it demonstrated that human evolution
    proceeded in a more bushy arrangement, with a
    number of different species adapting to different
    environments at different times. Some of these
    "experiments" in human evolution succeeded and
    some failed, with subsequent extinction.

Importance of Swartkrans
  • The first and earliest evidence for the
    controlled use of fire found anywhere at
    approximately one million years ago.
  • It is believed that the hominid which was
    responsible for this had the cognitive ability to
    take a burning log back from a naturally caused
    fire, a veld fire, back to the cave, but that it
    did not have the cognitive ability to make one
  • Nonetheless, this is still a profound step
    forward for our ancestors.

Digging for termites
  • Modified bones from Swartkrans and Sterkfontein
    in South Africa represent the oldest known bone
  • They were used by Australopithecus robustus to
    dig into termite mounds.

Digging for termites
"While a rump steak yields 322 calories per 100
grams and cod fish 74, termites provide 560
calories per 100 grams."
Excavations at Swartkrans
GIS 3D Model of Swartkrans
Excavated fossils from Swartkrans
Kromdraai, South Africa
  • Kromdraai is a much smaller site than either
    Sterkfontein or Swartkrans, but nevertheless has
    contributed its own pieces to the puzzle of human
  • There are actually two sites lying almost next to
    each other.
  • Kromdraai A has yielded an incredible wealth of
    fossil animals, including extinct saber-toothed
    cats, extinct monkeys and baboons, extinct
    hyaenas and extinct antelopes.
  • Kromdraai B produced the first Paranthropus
    robustus fossil the world had ever seen.

Kromdraai, South Africa
  • Also found at Kromdraai
  • 50 specimens of Paranthropus robustus.
  • The first specimen of robustus ever discovered ,
    found in 1938.
  • A wealth and diversity of extinct animals
  • More than 100 stone tools.

Sterkfontein, South Africa
  • The first fossils at Sterkfontein came to light
    as early as 1936 and were the first adult
    Australopithecines or, more specifically,
    Australopithecus africanus.
  • This species existed only in South Africa between
    3,2- and 2,6-million years ago and was a very
    early hominid (ie, a species that belongs in our
    family, the Hominidae).
  • Sterkfontein has fossil deposits dating back to
    almost 3,5-million years ago, providing a wealth
    of information about the different hominid
    species that existed in the two million year
    interval up to 1,5-million years ago.

Important finds at Sterkfontein
  • The first adult Australopithecine,
    Australopithecus africanus, that the world had
    ever seen, discovered in 1936.
  • The most complete skull of Australopithecus
    africanus, or commonly and affectionately known
    as Mrs Ples, found in 1947.
  • The first partial skeleton of any early hominid
    ever found, known only as Sts 14. It was found in
    1947 and demonstrated without a doubt that these
    early hominids walked upright, or bipedally.

Also at Sterkfontain
  • The first find of a fossil of our genus, Homo, or
    more specifically Homo habilis, found in 1976.
  • The geologically earliest record of any hominid
    in South Africa at close to 3,5-million years
  • 500 fossil specimens of Australopithecus
    africanus, including both adults and children.
    This is a remarkable sample -- enabling
    scientists to study a population of hominids,
    instead of just a single fossil.

Australopithecus africanus Mrs. Ples
Hunters vs. Scavengers
  • Darts Osteodontokeratic Culture
  • OsteoBone
  • DontoTeeth
  • KeraticHorn
  • C.K. Brains later interpretation

Dart and the Taung Baby
  • In 1924, Raymond Dart, an Australian anatomy
    professor at the University of Witerwatersrand in
    Johannesburg, South Africa, obtained a fossil
    skull that had been blasted out of a nearby
    limestone quarry at Taung . 
  • It took him 73 days to chisel the skull free from
    its surrounding stone matrix and ultimately 4
    years of spare time to free the jaw and the
    fossilized brain.   However, long before then,
  • Dart recognized the importance of this find.  In
    1925 he named it Australopithecus africanus
    (literally "southern ape from Africa").  Because
    of its small size, he called it the "Taung baby."
      In fact, it was a child of 3-4 years old. 

Osteodontokeratic Culture
  • Dart also concluded from his analysis of the site
    of Makapansgat that these creatures had had what
    he called an "osteodontokeratic" (bone, tooth
    and horn) culture, and argued that they were
    savage hunters and bloodthirsty killers whose
    violent tendencies had left their mark in human

Man the Hunter
  • Now anthropologists are reconsidering traditional
    theories about the importance of male hunting, of
    meat and of the so-called nuclear family in human
  • Instead, a renewed look at archaeological records
    and observations of a contemporary hunting and
    gathering tribe in East Africa suggest the key
    roles in nourishing the evolution of people's
    ancestors may have been played by females
    mothers and grandmothers.
  • Meanwhile, male hunting was likely more about
    elevating one's social status than providing for
    the family, researchers say.

Click here to read more http//abcnews.go.com/sec
C.K. Brain-Reinterpretation
  • Bones, teeth and horns not those of animals
    killed by humans.
  • Humans the hunted rather than the hunters.
  • The Hunters or the Hunted? C.K. Brain 1981

Leopard Predation
Early Human Behavior
  • Scavengers, not Hunters!
  • Bones at early sites have tool marks on top of
    animal tooth marks.

Humans and Chimpanzees
  • Besides, chimpanzees hunt-why did they not evolve
    as much as we did??
  • Click here for more on this subject Chimp the
  • Thus, we need to be careful about our biases when
    interpreting the archaeological record.

Red Colobus monkey predation by Chimpanzees
So, Early Australopithecine/Paranthropus behavior
was like what?
  • Small groups
  • Utilized caves for shelter in South Africa
  • May have used bone tools for digging termites out
    of mounds.
  • Could have hunted small animals.
  • Most food was probably plants.
  • Were more often the hunted, rather than the
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