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An important part when studying history is also the study of paleoanthropology. People nowadays have an increased curiosity about the old inhabitants of Earth. The underground is the one which will give us an almost complete picture of the distant past. Scientists created some categories of the ancestors of humans, based primarily on relationships between them. There were a lot of debates which concerned the names or categories, but they basically look like the ones in the following picture:
Next, we give a chronological list with human fossils from the Ardipithecus and Australopithecus groups:
- Sahelanthropus tchadensis – 7 million years – it is placed at the beginning of divergence between chimpanzees and humans. It was discovered between july 2001 and march 2002 in Djurab Desert, Chad.
- Orrorin tugenensis – 5.7-6.1 million years – the first fossil was discovered in 2001 at Tugen Hills, Kenya. This discovery contributed even more to the hypothesis that the common ancestor of humans and apes looked like a chimpanzee.
- Ardipithecus kadabba – 5.6 million years – first, it was considered an ancestor, but then it was settled that it is different from Australopithecus ramidus. The fossils were discovered between 1997 and 2000, in Middle Awash valley, Ethiopia.
- Ardipithecus ramidus – 4.4 million years – also known as Ardi, discovered in 1992, in Aramis, Ethiopia.
- Australopithecus anamensis – 3.9-4.2 million years – discovered in an expedition of Harvard University in 1965 at Kanapoi, Kenya and it is considered the oldest australopithecine.
- Australopithecus afarensis – 2.9-3.9 million years – the famous “Lucy”, discovered in 1974, at Hadar, Afar region, Ethiopia. To be noted the fact that its skeleton was recovered in a proportion of 40%, a fact that made it a worldwide uniqueness.
- Australopithecus garhi – 2-3 million years – localized in the same Middle Awash valley from Ethiopia on November 20th, 1997. Stone tools were also discovered along with this fossils.
- Australopithecus africanus – 2.04-3.03 million years – discovered in 4 sites from South Africa in the years 1924, 1948 and 1992. It is considered the direct ancestors of today’s humans.
For a complete database about all the discoveries from Ethiopia, you could access the Middle Awash project.
We now quote from the book “Evolution and Prehistory: The human challenge”, p. 134:
Careful examination of the Ardipithecus specimens proved that all early bipeds are not necessarily direct ancestors to later humans. Ardipithecus was much smaller than a modern cimpanzee, but it was chimpanzeelike in other features, such as the shape and enamel thickness of its teeth. On the other hand, a partially complete skeleton of one Ardipithecus individual suggests that unlike chimpanzees, and like other species in the human line, this creature was bipedal.
So, the ancestors of humans should be searched amongst australopitechines, not amongst ardipithecus, because these ones looked more like chimpanzees, not like humans, their only human characteristic being the bipedal walking.
In the next article, we will publish information about 3 discoveries that were made public in 2013.
- Evolution and Prehistory: The human challenge”, Thomson Learning, 2008, 8th edition
- Smithsonian – National Museum of Natural History – Human Family Tree
- Sahelantropus tchadensis: An examination of its Hominin Affinites and Possible Phylogenetic Placement
- African Genesis: Perspectives on Hominin Evolution, Cambridge University Press, 2012
- New four-million-year-old hominid species from Kanapoi and Allia Bay, Kenya
- Australopithecus afarensis
- Australopithecus garhi: A new species of Early Hominid from Ethiopia
- Australopithecus africanus
- Top 10 Early Hominid Finds and Their Locations