Week 2 – Early Hominin Studies

Evolution, to me, has never been a question.  There is much evidence to show that we are connected to many different animals, and there are many skeletons that have been uncovered with characteristics similar but not identical to modern day humans.

With this being said, there is still confusion as to how the evolution of humans came about.  Many people believe that we are descendants of apes, which is not completely true.  People try to rationalize that we must have come from another similar animal, and the only one we can see today is the ape.  It is important to realize that just because we have similar characteristics, it doesn’t mean that there were even modern day apes that long ago.  A better idea is that we share a common ancestor with the apes.  However, what that ancestor looks like or how long ago we split off from them is still a foggy topic.

Hominid 'Family Tree'

The diagram above attempts to connect various skeletal findings that may be a part of the modern day human’s family tree.  Although the connections above aren’t complete, since we now have techniques to try to determine the dates of the skeletons (like radiocarbon dating), it makes it easier to place the remains on a chart.  Also, by studying behaviors of the species above, we can also try to connect their pathways.  However, this is foggy yet again, because with skeletons dating back this far, there comes a lot of guesswork.

Overall, I am convinced the findings are connected either directly or indirectly to modern day humans.  The observations of these remains show immense similarities.  Though I do not think all of them have directly impacted the looks and behaviors we possess nowadays, it is clear that with such similarities, they are connected far down the line.

I hate to bring up the idea of mules or ligers, but I think it has a useful connection here.  In our modern day world we can already see slight changes in animal species.  The horse and donkey created a mule, something with very similar characteristics of both.  From things like this that we can see regularly, we already know that species are created and destroyed often.  I do not think it is far fetched at all to think H0mo Sapiens came from similar creatures.

As for the hoax of Piltdown, I think it tears down the scientific community much more than a movie like Indiana Jones could.  This just brings so many negative connotations to archaeology.  For this man to get away with his fake finding for so long was ridiculous.  It makes one wonder if this is possible in other situations.  I do think, however, that this has brought a positive change to the scientific community.  Peer review is a huge part of science.  It is important that we take closer looks into our colleagues assumptions, to acknowledge that they are truly correct.