The lectures from this week were really interesting to me, and I really enjoyed learning about specific traits and how they compare and have evolved from other hominins. Bipedalism seems to be one of the biggest and most noticeable hominin traits. I have always noticed that one of the biggest defining factors between humans and other non-human primates is the fact that humans use two legs. It shocked me to find out the correlation between brain size and bipedalism! After bipedalism, brains developed larger and more intricately. Bigger brains mean higher levels of intelligence and development. Seeing how pretty recent bipedalism is also shocked me, but upon further study also made a lot of sense. I have heard of the infamous “Lucy”, but never really had a basis for such a context as we learned in this lesson. It was awesome to be able to see the relation! Bipedalism has led to a lot of further changes, which has led even more to humans.
The size of the skull was also a trait that almost went hand in hand with brain size. Scientist observe that smaller brains are almost always related to smaller brain size. Because of this size difference, many can conclude that early hominins with this brain size were not using complex tools or even thinking to logically. It’s still so interesting to me that chimps and humans can share over 95% of their DNA, yet have such a large difference. Humans have a brain that is 1200cc, while chimps have one which is 450cc. Crazy! Having that visualization really helped me better understand how traits can be defining factors on primates- even the smallest change of trait makes to biggest difference!
Fossilized skeletal remains can play such an important role in identifying different traits throughout the history of the evolutionary process. Not only can it help scholars and researchers reconstruct enviormental conditions of the hominin, but it can also help humans learn from the past! Dental characteristics are also a large part of hominin traits. The amount of information which can be gathered by teeth and dental records shocked me so incredibly much. Teeth can reveal diet, whether the animals had larger, sharper canines for either meat eating or used as weapons or tools, or softer, rounder teeth- indicating that a diet of plants of vegetables may have been preferred. Watching the track of dental and teeth traits is really cool to see. History has shown that we have had smaller and smaller canines as time has progressed- bringing them down to the size they are today. Again, reflecting the diet which humans consume.
There are many traits to help scientists track human evolution as it goes through time. The information and traits which are compared are extremely interesting and I think it is super interesting and important for everyone to learn! I love the theme of this class and how it simply reinforces the fact that all living things are connected by such an important life force!