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PinkMonkey Online Study Guide-Biology

(3) Homo erectus

Remains of Homo erectus have been found in Africa, South East Asia and China and belonged to a later part of Pleistocene period. It lived from over 2 million years ago up to about 300,000 years ago. It contains specimens such as Java man (Pithecanthropus erectus), and Peking man (Sinathropus pekinensis), classified together as members of the species Homo erectus.

Homo erectus had a receding forehead, heavy jaws and prominent bony brows. It was more than 5 feet tall, weighed 70 kg. had a human like skeleton and apparently walked upright as indicated by the position of the foramen magnum in their skulls - which is same as in modern humans. (Refer to figure 12.7). The cranial capacity was about 970 cm3 . Homo erectus lived in caves and had more-or-less permanent home bases, made a fire and brought it indoors to cook food or split stones.

This stage of human evolution is correlated with colonization and migration to colder areas (Europe, China) and communal living in caves. The pre-human brain of Homo erectus could produce social and technological solutions - such as fire, clothing, stored food etc. to survive cold winters.

4) Homo neanderthalensis (Neanderthal Man)

This first specimen of this kind was discovered in Neander valley of Germany in 1856. These early humans existed some 150,000 years ago and were widespread in Europe, Asia and North Africa. They closely resembled humans. This human species was short, stocky, with heavy jaws, a receding chin, with an erect stance and the hands used like man. The brain was as big as the modern man and with almost same cranial capacity (1450 cm3 ). They became extinct about 25,000 years ago probably in competition with Homo sapiens. Another theory is that they interbred with Homo sapiens and their distinctive characters disappeared into the common human gene pool.

Culturally, Neanderthals were more advanced than the Homo erectus. They lived in caves, made simple tools, dug pits to trap large animals and were even cannibalistic sometimes.

(5) The Cro-Magnons

Fossils of men and women were discovered in France in 1868. They were very much like the modern man, therefore, Cro-Magnon man has been considered as a sub-species of Homo sapiens. The Cro-Magnons were about 150 cm tall, with a rounded forehead, distinct chin, narrow nose and broad face. They walked erect and were swift footed. The cranial capacity was 1650 cm3. They lived in caves, were experts at hunting, painting and became the farmers and metal workers of Egypt, philosophers of Greece, Indians of the America and Eskimos of the Arctic. They buried their dead according to their customs. The Cro-Magnons became extinct about 20,000 years ago and were more advanced than the Neanderthals.

Figure 12.5 Cro-Magnon Man: Skull and restoration

As the Cro-Magnons spread over the Earth; the environments exerted selective pressure. This resulted in different groups of people now called races, which differ in their skin color, predominant blood type, form, hair color, body features and size. Depending upon where one draws the lines we can count about 6 to 34 modern races. Further evolution of modern man after Cro-Magnon’s was more of culture than structure.

Table of Contents

12.0 Introduction
12.1 Palaeontological Evidences - Our Ancestors
12.2 Ancestral Forms of Homo Sapiens

Chapter 13


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