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What makes humans unique compared to other species

large brains (highly intelligent), bipedal, reliance on culture



a period of time in history or a person's life, typically one marked by notable events or particular characteristics.


epochs in order, fossil apes to hominids

oligocene (25mya), myocene (23-5 mya), pliocene (5-2.5 mya), pleistocene (2.6 mya-11.7kya)



divergence of monkeys and apes (in dentition for example)



23-5mya number and diversity of apes expands throughout africa to europe and asia
-40 genera of apes
today we have just 3 genera and 4 species



-forests replaced by grasslands led to extinction of most apes
-important speces existed still



2.6mya to 11.7kya
-abundance ofthe genus Homo



directly involved in modern human evolution
-bipedalism as defining characteristic
-adaptability to the changing mosaic environment


Sahelanthropus tchadensis

in myocene
-6-7 mya
-fossil info based on cranium
-v flat face unlike the great apes but like humans
-BUT brain was more like a human than an ape
-position of foramen magnum suggests bipedalism


Ardipithecus ramidus (Ardi)

4.4 mya
-pelvis and foramen magnum suggest bipedalism
-ardi appears to be human like
-ape-like feet



a genus
-more human-like bones than previous genera/species
-Australopithecus afarensis--Lucy
-Fully upright hominin
-Modern feet
-Similar pelvic configuration to humans
-Cranial is still very ape-like
-Cranial capacity around chimp size
o One third the size of human avg
-Prognathic features
o Forward thrusting lower face
o Similar to great apes
-tool use!


the genus Homo

appears around 2.8mya (pliocene)
-homo habilis--the earliest Homo species
--flatter face
--steeper forehead
--larger brain 700cc abt half of human average


Premodern or archaic Homo sapiens

• 600kya
• come from Africa spread to Europe and S asia
-uses levallois stone tool industry--shaped flakees from prepared cores--use of stone tools in hunting


Anatomically modern humans

-evolved in Africa and nowhere else
- migrated elsewhere
-between 150-100kya migration out of Africa
-encountered neadertals with some interbreeding
-aurignation stone tools
-chattelperronian tools
-these are incredibly sophisticated stone tools



• now considered a group of premodern humans
• 130kya to 40kya
• probably descendants of earlier homo species that migrated
• possibly from homo erectus

Neanderthal culture
• Mousterian tools
o Refinement of levallois technique
o Dozens of task specific tools
• Subsistence
o Meat
 Similar to contemporary carnivores at the time
 Gathering of plants still occurred
• Burials
o Evidence for compassion
o Care for individuals with trauma
 Like blind, or with lost limb but they still have lived a long life so they are clearly caring about these people
o Symbolic expression through burial goods
• Are they related to modern humans? Dow have neandertal DNA
o For some groups, yes


The upper paleolithic

• 50kya-10kya
• complex and elaborate lithic technology
• abundance of non-utilitarian objects
• much more elaborate burials
• larger sites
o populations would come together in a yearly cycle
o nomadic but with seasonal strategies
 logistical collecting

Early Art
• petroglyphs—designs etched into rock faces
• parietal art—art on a wall such as paintings
• mobilary art—portable

Earliest ceramics were figurines
• venus figurines
• 35-20kya
• depicts women of all shapes and sizes, all ages, and all states of fertility
• they represent women in any stage


peopling of the New World

arrived through the Bering strait
-from russia to alaska
-the most common answer to how humans arrived in the New World (the Americas)


the key stone ages

paleolithic, mesolithic, neolithic



distinguished by the earliest stone tools
from homo habilis to end of pleistocene



proliferation of regional adaptations and local cultural diversity
o In the New World it is called the archaic period
o At the end of the pleistocene and early Holocene



after 12kya when domestication of plants and animals replaced foraging as dominant means of subsistence


mesolithic cultural characteristics and geographic differences

o Shift in subsistence focus due to extinction or unavailability
o Diversity in environment corresponded to a diversity in cultural adaptations
 Diversity in artifacts settlement patterns and subsistence strategies
o General change in subsistence from megafauna to smaller animals fish shellfish and birds
 As well as reliance on plant foods previously absent
o Encouraged a shift from nomadic existence to a more sedentary one in some regions


Paleoethnobotany (PEB)

the study of how past humans interacted with and used plants that is through time and across space!
-microbotanicals and microbotanicals



botanical remains that can be seen with the naked eye
Often examined with a microscope
• study charred plant remains bc they preserve morphological traits and we can infer human interaction
• something else here

How do we recover charred macrobotanicals
• through flotation
o accompanied by processual archaeology



Botanical remains that cannot be see with the naked eye
- always examined with a microscope, and often highly process using chemicals
- Includes phytoliths, starch grains, and pollen
Phytoliths = crystals of silica dioxide or glass formed by certain plants taking up this compound from the soil matrix, and then deposited into the intercellular structures of stems, leaves, and roots
Recovered from ground stones, stone tools, and sometimes teeth and soil
Starch grains = composed of glucose unites that act as energy for the plant (in stem, roots, fruits, and seeds)
Recovered from ground stones, stone tools, and sometimes soil
Recovered from lake cores and sometimes activity areas, using these data we can reconstruct ancient climates


process of domestication

1. Important plants and or animals are selected and manipulated for reproduction through artificial selection
- Process in refinement of pants and animals whereby humans select which members of a species will live and produce offspring
2. After many generation, these new organism no longer resemble their old “wild counterparts, and are now considered new species
3. Once the result of this process is evident, the organism is now considered domesticated
- An organism that has been altered by human beings through artificial selection


Plant domestication

-more and larger seeds
-tougher rachis=branches of the plant
-thinner hull—outer shell, coat
-apical dominance—central stem
-comparing wild vs. domestic



o Bioarchaeology is the study of human remains from archaeological contexts
o The field emphasizes integrative, interdisciplinary analysis of the links between biology and culture in past societies



o The study of human bones
o The branch of anatomy or physical anthropology that deals with human bones


Archeaological contexts of human remains

o Types of burial
 Inhumation
 Cremation
 Ossuaries
 Sky burial
o Cemetaries
 Important for: group studies, sample size, seeing changes over time
- Unusual contexts: secondary burial
o Reburial/movement of remains for: practical purposes, ritual reasons, political reasons
- Warfare/violence
o Mass graves
o Distinctive injuries
- Unusual contexts: human sacrifice and cannibalism?
o Evidence: cut marks on bone, remains in hearths, middens, other burials, ritual contexts
o BUT hard to know intent of cuts, exceptions = cultures where this is know
- Unusual contexts: museum collections
o Legacy of early archaeology and anthropology
o Collections useful for large scale studies
o BUT often problems with context