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Group of extinct omnivorous bipedal hominins. Includes A. anamensis, afarensis, africanus and some others.

Biological evolution

Evolution of bone, muscle, physiology and inherited behaviour. To be distinguished from cultural evolution.


Walking on 2 legs. Only Australopithecus, Paranthropus and Homo genuses.


Swinging by arms as apes do.

Broca's area

Area of brain that produces speech.

Brow ridge

Bony projection protecting eyes. Prominent in early hominins.


Tool used for making holes in skins, etc.


Buttress of bone on the base of the femur. Humans have this on the outer base and apes on the inner. It prevents collapse of the knee inwards.


Raised back of skull holding brain.

Cultural evolution

Evolution of culture (weapons, tools, art, music, ritual, etc.).


Gap between incisors and canines to allow for space for the large canines.


Early form of ape ancestral to both apes and humans.

Foramen magnum

Opening in the skull for attachment of the spinal cord.


Family that includes apes and humans.


Hominin Tribe (below subfamily) that includes humans and bipedal fossils like Australopithecus and Paranthropus. Also called hominid.


Middle Stone Age, characterized by fishing and foraging for wild grains.


Tool culture of Neanderthals.


New Stone Age — age of agriculture.

Nuchal crest

Attachment at the back of the skull for attachment of neck muscles.


Tool culture of Homo habilis.


Old Stone Age.


Genus of vegetarian hominins includes P. aethiopicus, robustus and boisei.


Subfamily that contains orangutans.


Order that includes prosimians, monkeys, apes and humans.


Having a protruding muzzle.


Primitive monkey, eg lemur, loris, tarsier. Small, often solitary, nocturnal.

Quern stone

Rounded stone used for grinding grains into flour.

Sagittal crest

Bony projection on top of the cranium for attachment of chewing muscles.

Selection pressures

The environmental factors that favour certain phenotypes over others. (See the chapter on Evolution for more on this.)

Sexual dimorphism

Where the male is larger and has structural differences from the female.



Upper Palaeolithic

Culture of Homo sapiens.

Valgus angle

Carrying angle; the angle, less than 180°, between the femur and tibia. It indicates bipedalism.

Wernicke's area

Area in the brain concerned with recognition of speech.

Zygomatic arch

Bone structure on side of cheek through which the chewing muscles go.


Tool culture of Homo erectus and archaic H. sapiens. Pear-shaped hand axes.


Includes gorilla, orangutan, gibbon and chimpanzee. No tail, large brain; brachiating knuckle walkers.

Bipedalisim Advantages

Thermoregulation, Carrying Objects, Height, Energy Efficient

Biological Evolution

(transmission of factors inherited from parents)

Cultural Evolution

(transmission of beliefs, ideas, knowledge by learning from other members of group) Tools, Fire, Shelter, Clothing, Food-Gathering, Abstract thought, Domestication of plants and animals.

H - Feet

Arched (shock absorbing; walk longer distances). Toes face forward, longer big toe (provides thrust). Big heel bone (firm base to push against for walking/running)

A - Feet

Flat feet, big toe separate, facing outwards from foot and opposable (grasping branches and climbing trees)

H - Femur,Knee Joint, Valgus Angle

Femur hangs inward angle from hip (center of gravity between feet) Knee Joint (maintains centre of gravity) Buttresses (creates valgus angle, prevents sideways movemetn of lower leg)

A - Femur,Knee Joint, Valgus Angle

Femur hangs vertically from hip, knee joint, no buttresses or valgus angle (gives better swinging motion in branches)

HvA - Spine

H: S shape (keeps body weight above hip joints) A: Slightly curved (counterbalances downward force of organs and chest)

HvA - Chest

H: Flattened front to back, oval in cross-section (body weight brought close to spine and over centre of gravity. A: Rounded front to back, circular on cross-section (organs supported by rubs and large abdominal muscles)

HvA - Hands

H: Fully opposable thumb, straight fingers (manipulative precision grip). A: Short, opposable thumb and curved fingers (power grip and hooking)

H - Skull External

Foramen magnum at centre of base of skull (skull balances at top of spine). No brow ridges, sagittal crest or nuchal crest.

A - Skull External

Foramen magnum and back of skull, large brow ridges, sagittal crest, nuchal crest.

H - Teeth and Jaws

Smaller teeth and jaws (tools cutting up and fire softening). Enamel thicker and canines small. Jaw and tooth row more parabolic shaped.

A - Teeth and Jaws

Larger teeth and jaws, large canines (display, sexual diapmorphism) distema on upper tooth row, jaw and tooth row U shape.

H - Endocranial

Cranium volume 1400, Speacialised areas: Cerebellum (balance, swelling at back), Cerebrum (thinking skills, top surface expanded and folded), Broca's area (speech production), Wernicke's area (understanding speecha and writing) both swelling left side.

A - Endocranial

Cranium volume 450, atter on top, no specialised areas developed.

HvA - Pharynx and Larynx

H: longer P, lower L (modifies sound and tone of speech). A: shorter P, higher L (modification of tone and sound cannot occur)

HvA - Hair and Skin

H: finer and shorter hair but same number per cm3 and more sweat glands (cooling capacity for higher activity rates). A: thicker hairs, fewer sweat glands (insulation from sun, lower activity rates)

HvA - Pelvis

H: short and wide (reduces stress of upper body weight in hips, supports abdominal organs). A: tall and narrow (large surface area for leg muscle placement)


A genus dating from 4-1million years ago. Also known as the southern ape. Brain size <500cc (cubic centimeters)


Genus to which humans below. Ranging from 2 million years ago (mya) to the present day. Brain size >600cc

Australopithecus afarensis

Southern ape from the afar desert. Earliest fossil 4-2.8 million years ago. Remains found in Ethiopia and Sth Tanzania. Small stature, brain size similar to chimp. Bipedal, ape-like face (elongated, pronounced brow ridges).

Small, ape-like face (elongated, pronounced brow ridges), brain size chimp, free hands, walk upright,

Features of A. afarensis

Australopithecus africanus

Lived from 3-2mya. Similar features to A. afarensis. Stature; bipedal, small brain, flatter face, large molars (plant based diet), brow ridges.


Timeline of A. Afarensis

Australopithecus robustus

2.4-1.4 mya. Larger stature & bones, more muscular. V. large molars. Small brain


Timeline for A. robustus

similar to A. afarensis, brain slightly larger, large molars

features of A. africanus

Large and heavily built, large bones & skull, v. large molars, small brain

features of A. robustus

Homo habilis

The 'handy man', first to use very primitive tools. Approx 2mya. East Africa. Stature; smaller teeth and jaw, human size, dominant brow ridge, sloping skull. Brain size approz 600cc

approx 2mya

Timeline for H. habilis

Smaller teeth and jaw, human size, dominant brow ridge, sloping skull, brain size approx 600cc

features of H. habilis

Homo erectus

The direct ancestors of Homo Sapiens. Approx 1mya. Migrated to other parts of africa. Less hairy, no chin, arches over eyes. Larger brain (1000cc) with more cortex allowing higher functioning. More complex tools. Teeth changed to meat eaters

brain 1000cc, less hairy, no chin, arches over eyes

features of H. erectus

Homo sapiens

Our species. Physical features: Flat high dome forehead, no arches over eyes, 1300cc brain.


Foramen magnum is more anterior/ less robust neck muscles


backward thoracic curve/ forward lumbar curve/ keeps trunk centered about the pelvis


basin shaped to support internal organs/ iliac blades shorter and broader/ stabilizes weight transmission


lower limbs elongated/ thigh 20% humans, 11% gorillas


angled inward/ legs more directly under the body/ modified knee joint helps to extend it fully


enlarged and inwardly placed big toe/ longitudinal arch absorbs shock and spring to step


reduced canine, smaller incisors

opposable thumb

when thumb can touch fore fingers, only primates have these features.

arboreal life

life in the trees, opposable thumb was important in result of this


all apes and humans


early ancestor on human family tree


walking on two feet

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