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Powerpoint Presentation: The Primates
Powerpoint Presentation: The Hominids

Evolution Index

The origins of life
Evolution and Fixity
Natural selection
Lamarkian Evolution
Antibiotic Resistance
Industrial melanism
Palaeontology : The study of fossils
The C-14 Decay Curve
In Search of Deep Time
Evolution of the Horse
Punctuated Equilibrium
The classification of living organisms : Taxonomy
Kingdoms
Humans: Neotonous, bipedal African apes
The Changing Trees of Human Evolution
Genetic verses Cultural Evolution
Phenylketonuria (PKU) Fact Sheet
Cystic Fibrocis (CF) Fact Sheet

Topic Chapters Index

 

EVOLUTION

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The Hominids

 

SPECIES

CHARACTERISTICS

AGE

ECOLOGY

Pan troglodytes

Cranial capacity: 300 - 400 cm3
Knuckle walks and climbs
1st molar tooth 3 years old
Uses simple tools
Longevity 40 years

Present day tropical Africa

Omnivore but mainly herbivorous, forest dwelling ape.

Australopithecus afarensis

Cranial capacity: 380 - 450cm3
Height: 1.07m
Bipedal (footprints 3.6 Ma old) /climber
U-shaped dental arcade but reduced canines

3.9 - 2.9 Ma
Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania

Arboreal / terrestrial herbivore.
Climate starts to change. Antarctic ice cap advance 5 Ma

Australopithecus africanus

Cranial capacity: 500cm3
Bipedal
20 - 35kg
Rounder skull,
Parabolic dental arcade
Longevity: 40 years maximum

3 - 2.25 Ma
Southern and Eastern Africa

Scavenger of bone marrow/brain cases
Used simple tools.
Cooling of climate reduced rainfall. Further advance of Antarctic ice + appearance of Arctic ice 2.4Ma.
Development of scrubland and savannah. Forest cover retreats.

Australopithecus (Paranthropus) robustus

Cranial capacity: 500cm3
Bipedal
40 - 70kg Sexual dimorphism (males twice as bulky as females)
Large cheek teeth
Heavy muscular skull

2 - 1 Ma
S. Africa

Roots and tough fibrous vegetable matter in the diet.
Cooling of climate reduced rainfall.
Development of scrubland and savannah. Forest retreats.

Homo habilis

Cranial capacity: 600 - 800cm3
Height: 1.20 - 1.35m
Simple fashioned tools - choppers (Oldowan culture)

2.6 - 1.4 Ma
E. Africa

Scavenging

Homo erectus

Cranial capacity: 850 - 1100cm3
Use of fire
Height 1.55 to 1.8m
Extended childhood.
1st molar at 4.6 years old
Greater longevity 52 years
Speech?
Improved tools: Hand axes (Acheulian culture)

1.8 to 0.5 Ma
Spread out of Africa (1Ma) throughout the old world

Scavenging to hunting.
Use of a home base.
0.9 Ma beginning of the Pleistocene ice age. Oscillations between cold and warm periods.

Homo neanderthalensis

Cranial capacity: 1400 cm3 (bigger than H.sapiens)
Brow ridge, long low skull
Height: 1.67m
Stocky build
Improved sophisticated tools: sharp flakes produced by a single stroke from a core (Mousterian culture) sometimes buried their dead
Made simple jewellery

250 000 to 28 000 a
Europe, Middle East, into Central Asia

Evolved from H. erectus populations perhaps via H. heidelbergensis, then became extinct.
Adapted to the ice-age conditions of temperate zone. Large nose may have warmed cold air. The enigma of its extinction is not explained. Theories include failure to adapt to changing climate, replacement by H. sapiens or interbreeding with H. sapiens. DNA evidence seems to rule out the last.

Homo sapiens

Cranial capacity: 1400cm3 (range 1000 to 2000cm3) (18% of the body's energy consumption for 5% of body mass)
Speech,
Art
Extensive tool kit including new materials (bone, ivory, antler)
Symbolic thought
1st molar tooth 5.9 years old
Longevity 66 years

From 150000a to present
Originating in Southern Africa and spreading out over the whole world

Omnivore
Alters environment
Domestication of species, farming.
Cooling of the climate during the last glacial period from about 50000a led to their predominance over other species (e.g. H. neanderthalensis)

 

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