Blog five

Researching traits of early hominids is an incredibly important process as it is essentially finding the missing piece of the puzzle that tells us where we, as a species, derive from.

Something interesting I found from this week is that our evolution has not been one constantly morphing species change from chimpanzees to humans. I liked how it was explained in one of the videos that we should think of it more as a tree instead of a direct line. There are multiple “branches” that may have originated from the same species that we did that have since gone extinct such as the paranthropus- the main characteristic of this species being its prominent jaw line.

Dental histories are a massive part in explaining where we come from, as they can not only depict what facial features may have looked like, but also can give an inclination as to the species’ eating habits. For example, the paranthropus’ jaw suggests that the mammal had an enormous amount of power when it bit down. This, accompanied by their relatively small front teeth and non-projecting canines, suggests that the mammal needed to crush its food rather than tear it off. It also creates a picture of a more robust form with a large face.

Another characteristic that is key when discussing the differences between our ancestors and how they have developed is bipedalism- one of the first defining traits that breaks off from the lineage of chimpanzees. One way to determine whether a species is a biped or not is their forman magnum. If this is located toward the back of the skull, it can be assumed that the animal walked on all fours due to the fact that their spinal cord (and therefore the rest of their body) was behind them. If, however, it is located on the bottom of the skull (as ours is), it can be assumed that they were bipedal due to the fact that their body was underneath them.

One more way to determine various degrees of bipedalism is by looking at the hands. If an animal must use its hands more to walk, it puts a massive strain on the structure of the hands and wrist so they must be constructed in a way that supports this amount of weight. Due to the fact that there are varying degrees of bipedalism, there are then a paralleled amount of constructions for the hand/wrist complex. One of the videos used the examples of us walking on our hands or chimpanzees walking on their two feet. While we (…some of us) may be able to do it for a small amount of time, it is very uncomfortable because we are not made to do that. Similarly, the earliest hominids still had prominent knucklebones and wrist strength because, while they were considered bipeds, it was not entirely comfortable yet. We can compare this with the later hominids that had more delicate hands and wrists and longer legs that allowed them to be more comfortable walking on two legs.

By observing and learning more about characteristics such as these in early hominids, we are more accurately able to put together the pieces of our history and where we come from, which can then also help us predict how we will evolve in the future.

5 thoughts on “Blog five

  1. One thing I heard about the evolution. In the news, it tells a very interesting fact worth to ponder. As can be seen from the table, in this long history of 1400 years, the rate of human evolution is not uniform, but at a high forward acceleration of the evolution. For example, evolved from Ramapithecus to Australopithecus full with more than 1,000 years, and Australopithecus evolved into Homo habilis only took more than 300 years, and so on. That is, in the process of human evolution, each completed a leap in time just before approximately equal to 1/3 the time required for a leap, and after a leap equal to three times the required time. I think we really need study the ealy hominids. The history will tell us where we from.

  2. When finding three hominid traits that can inform us about modern human biology there were three things that came to mind and they were our teeth, the way we have evolved into walking up right, and the fossils. These three things go along way and they all tell different stories about us humans and the evolution of our species. All of these things have given us way to study what our ancestors were like, by helping anthologist reconstruct and learn from the past.
    Our teeth and fossils in my eyes go hand and hand and can tell a lot about our ancestors and the evolution of our species in many different ways. Our teeth explain a lot about what we eat and this can tell what kind of diet different people had now and in the past. Scientists have recently discovered that there human evolution was simpler than we had thought because of the different sizes of teeth of fossils, so if a tooth was missing the anthropologist could predict how big a tooth was by the size of the ones around it. This finding has given scientist a new way to predict what the future species teeth will look like. Fossils just like teeth can do the same thing, but fossils also tell us a lot more. Fossils can tell where someone is from their body build and a lot of time the color of someone. Fossils from the past have also told us how long a certain species lived in an area and their migration of different areas. A lot of studies that are done usually use rocks that around the fossils to determine the age. My last way in which we can use findings from hominid traits is bipedalism this was really famous when a fossil of “Lucy” was found. This fossil was said to have been one of the first of our ancestors to walk upright on two legs and was said to be a female. This is where the difference between humans and monkeys came along. The way that scientist found that there was these beings that could walk was by examining the fossils and see how fossils of monkey and of Lucy’s were. They found that the fossils that had more strain on their arms and not on their legs were probably most likely monkeys and the ones without were our ancestors. To me I think this could have went both ways, because we don’t actually know for sure what kind of being lucy was it seem as if all the findings are all predictions and not actually facts.
    Fossilized skeletal remains of early human ancestors can help anthropologists reconstruct and learn from the past by basically building a bridge between now and the past. Meaning the more we find out about fossilized skeletons the more we will find out about our human ancestors. I explained this in my above paragraphs when I talked about three different ways in which fossils can explain the evolution of humans.

  3. I to find it interesting that we along with other species may have originated from one common species. Humans, chimps and bonobos have been scientifically proven to have originated from a common ancestor. Humans and chimps have very similar DNA make ups and even though we are very different in physical appearance, we are still very similar biologically. Humans and chimps share very similar brain as well as nervous system structures which give chimps, like humans, the capability to intellectually perform on a higher scale. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a great example of how chimps can learn to perform intellectual tasks such as memorizing and matching objects to one another. Somewhere along the line of evolution, humans and chimps took different evolutionary paths in which differentiated the two species from one another.

  4. Hello,
    I think the beginning of your post is really important – it is crucial for people to understand that evolution is not one single process. It takes millions of years and the species will take many different forms. We learned this week that there will be some trial and error – some species will die off and others will continue to grow and change according to the environment. From there, the surviving species will evolve and branch off and the cycle of life and death will continue. Your post is the first I’ve seen that talks about hands. It is interesting that you have some insight into an animal’s walking pattern based on their hands – you can tell if they are knuckle walkers or if they are using them to swing from tree to tree. Great thinking!

  5. Hi,
    Your Blog Five was interesting in describing the lineage of our evolution with respect to the various fossils that have been unearthed. It is obviously a difficult process to determine which branch of the tree was initiated by these ancient hominins that have been found. It is interesting to consider that many years ago everyone was searching for the missing link between us and the apes, but when considering a branching tree model we no longer are searching for a single link in an apparently non-existent single chain. All of the fossils that have been discovered are now analyzed to find their position on the tree that you described, and non of them seem to fit a singly ideal member of our ancient past. As evolution has changed each of these creatures over time, there are traits that seem to parallel our history yet other body features remain a mystery. Careful examination of each of these hominins can only be a benefit when we consider how our own body structure has evolved.
    -Jaclyn Kyko

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