Re: Human skull evolution

Glenn R. Morton (
Thu, 04 Jun 1998 23:05:51 -0500

One thing I didn't mention the other day about human skull evolution the
next youngest relatively modern human face is from Atapuerca Spain, dated
at 800,000 years:

"A Hominid from the Lower Pleistocene of Atapuerca, Spain: Possible
Ancestor to Neandertals
and Modern Humans

J. M. Bermúdez de Castro, * J. L. Arsuaga, E. Carbonell, A. Rosas, I.
Martínez, M. Mosquera

Human fossil remains recovered from the TD6 level (Aurora stratum) of the
lower Pleistocene cave site of Gran Dolina, Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain,
exhibit a unique combination of cranial, mandibular, and dental traits and
are suggested as a new species of Homo--H. antecessor sp. nov. The fully
modern midfacial morphology of the fossils antedates other evidence of this
feature by about 650,000 years. The midfacial and subnasal morphology of
modern humans may be a retention of a juvenile pattern that was not yet
present in H. ergaster. Homo antecessor may represent the last common
ancestor for Neandertals and modern humans.

Volume 276, Number 5317 Issue of 30 May 1997, pp. 1392 - 1395
©1997 by The American Association for the Advancement of Science. "

erectus and who is an archaic Homo sapiens. The gradation is such that
everyone argues about classification for skulls of that age. This means
that there is no clear break between homo sapiens and h. erectus. When it
comes to anatomically modern humans, the first anatomically modern humans
still possessed significant archaic features.

"We propose here to merge Homo erectus within the evolutionary species
Homo sapiens. The origin of Homo erectus lies in a cladogenic event at
least 2.0 myr ago. We view the subsequent lineage as culturally and
physically adapted to an increasingly broad range of ecologies, ultimately
leading to its spread across the old world prior to the beginning of the
Middle Pleistocene. Homo erectus differs from Homo habilis in a number of
ways. The vast majority of htese distinctions also characterize Homo
sapiens. The few distinctions of Homo sapiens that are not shared with
Homo erectus appear to be responses to, or reflections of, continuing
evolutionary trends of increasing cultural complexity, increasing brain
size, and the progressive substitution of technology for biology.
"Homo erectus is a polytypic species, divided into several distinct
geographic variants which each show at least some genetic continuity with
the geographic variants of the polytypic species Homo sapiens that is
reflected in shared unique combinations of morphological features. There
is no distinct boundary between Homo erectus and Homo sapiens in time or
space, and cladogenesis does not seem to mark the origin of Homo sapiens.
Instead, the characteristics of Homo erectus and Homo sapiens are found to
be mixed in seemingly transitional samples from the later Middle
Pleistocene of every region where there are human remains. The regional
ancestry of Homo sapiens popultions makes monophyly impossible for the
species if the earlier populations are in a different species. We
interpret this to mean that there is no speciation involved in the
embergence of Homo sapiens from Homo erectus. These reasons combine to
require that the lineage be regarded as a single evolutionary species."
Milford H. Wolpoff, Alan G. Thorne, Jan Jelinek, Zhang Yinyun, "The Case
for Sinking Homo erectus. 100 Years of Pithecanthropus is Enough!" Courier
Forshungs-Institute Senckenberg 171:341-361, Frankfurt am Main 1.05.1994,
p. 341


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