Human Biology and the Origins of Homo
New fossil discoveries relevant to the origin of Homo have overturned
conventional wisdom about the nature of the australopiths & early Homo &
particularly H.erectus incl.H.ergaster.
They have eroded prior assumptions about the differences between these
genera & complicated interpretations for the origin and evolution of Homo.
This special issue surveys what is now known about the fossil evidence &
the environmental context of early Homo.
It also moves beyond the hard evidence, and sets the stage for integrated
multi-disciplinary studies, to provide a framework for interpretation of
the hard evidence.
To understand the adaptive shifts at the origin of Homo, it is essential
to have a solid understanding of how & why modern humans & other animals
Contributors to this issue include pPAs, human biologists, behavorialists
We tasked each with bringing her or his special expertise to bear on the
question of the origins & early evolution of Homo.
The papers in this collection are a product of a week-long Wenner-Gren
symposium held in March 2011,
this introduction integrates this work & its significance for Homo.
Body Size, Body Shape, and the Circumscription of the Genus Homo
Trenton W Holliday thollid@...
Since the 1984 discovery of the Nariokotome H.erectus/ergaster skeleton,
it has been almost axiomatic that the emergence of Homo (sensu stricto)
was characterized by an increase in body size to the modern human
condition & an autapomorphic shift in body proportions to those found
This was linked to a behavioral shift toward more intensive carnivory and
wider ranging in the genus Homo.
Recent fossil discoveries & re-analysis of the Nariokotome skeleton
suggest a more complex evolutionary pattern.
While early Homo tend to be larger than Australopithecus/Paranthropus,
they were shorter on average than people today.
Re-analysis of the Nariokotome pelvis along with the discovery of
additional early & middle Pleistocene pelves indicate
- a narrow bi-iliac (pelvic) breadth is an autapomorphy specific to
- at least some early Homo (even H.ergaster/erectus) were characterized by
higher humero-femoral indices than the H.sapiens average.
All these data suggest a pattern of mosaic postcranial evolution in Homo,
with implications for the increased ranging/carnivory model of the origin
of Homo as well as for which species are included within the Homo hypodigm.