Download A Companion to Paleoanthropology by David R. Begun (ed.) PDF

By David R. Begun (ed.)

A significant other to Paleoanthropology provides a compendium of readings from best students within the box that outline our present wisdom of the key discoveries and advancements in human origins and human evolution, tracing the fossil checklist from primate and hominid origins to the dispersal of contemporary people around the globe. Represents an obtainable state of the art precis of the whole box of paleoanthropology, Read more...

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These features develop gradually from more monkey-like anatomy in the earliest apes (pronograde quadrupedalism, or walking on the tops of branches), to an essentially modern ape morphology in the apes that lived just before the chimpanzee–human divergence. While the wonderfully complex fossil record of apes shows that many similar looking anatomies evolved in parallel a number of times, there is no doubt that there is a consistent trend toward a shift from monkey-like to ape-like in the plausible ancestors of the living apes and humans.

For some time before that explorers brought back with them from exotic locals animals that looked strangely human-like, and our knowledge of these creatures (non-human primates) increased considerably in the 19th century. By the second half of the 19th century, Darwin had published on natural selection and human evolution, Huxley had documented the anatomical similarities between apes and humans, Mendel had discovered the basic principles of genetics, and early archeologists were beginning to amass impressive collections of artifacts of apparently great antiquity.

But specifics have been lacking until recently. Several examples of genes and their relationship to morphology are given in this chapter, but the main message is the complexity of the relationship between genes and morphology, and the long research road ahead in mapping out this relationship. We are beginning to unravel these connections in teeth, limb proportions and the cranium, but there is a great deal of potential in this field. Chapter 17, by Wolpoff and Caspari, covers the history of paleoanthropology as it relates to the concept of race.

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