Human fossils are skeletons, forms, or shells of humans or animals that have been preserved in rocks for an extended period of time and have been uncovered by paleoanthropologists. Paleoanthropologists’ numerous observations, experiments, and results while researching human evolution have resulted in a rise in new discoveries of human fossils. According to Laurency (2004), humans have progressed through different phases of human evolution. These phases began with the level of impulses, which included primitive behavior, and progressed to the level of society and culture. This was accompanied by a period of emotional evolution involving idealistic and humanistic innovations. The third stage is the stage of civilization which involves transformation from the barbaric behaviour traits of humans to civilized traits. It also involves attainment of good cultural morals. The civilization stage is followed by the stage of culture where humans start to identify new and attractive and royal collective feelings. The human development stage follows the culture stage and it’s at this stage that humans registers a higher mental consciousness and perspective consciousness and it’s at this stage that humans could be introduced to some private initiation that was managed by private monarchies. The final stage of human development is the stage of ideality where there is acquisition of a more productive mentality and consciousness. All these stages have contributed to the transformation of the present human species into modern thinking species that are to make and evaluate different advanced ideas compared to the ancient humans (Laurency, 2004)
According to Smith & James (2013), the human fossils based on the human evolution is believed to have its originality in Africa based on the various kinds of human fossils that have been discovered in the various parts of Africa. These human fossils include Homo erectus, homo heidelbergensis, homo neanderthalensis, parathropus boisei, Australopithecus sediba, and Australopithecus anamensis and ardipithecus ramidus. All these human fossils have different characteristics depending on the evolution period and help in the description of the different stages of the evolution of the modern human species. The first creatures in the human evolution are said to be the Austropithecines believed to have been Ape like and discovered around 6.6 million years ago. It’s believed according to the various findings that this specie had a very small brain compared to the current modern humans. Their brain was around twenty percent of the size of the modern human brain hence they were very primitive and did not have a strong sense of reason as compared to the current humans. The Austropithecines were followed by another generation of creatures referred to as Homo erectus. Basing on the various human fossils discovered in around 100,000 years back relating to the Homo erectus specie, it’s believed that these creatures existed around around three million years back. These fossils of Homo erectus have been based on to relate t he Homo erectus species to the current modern humans due to their young age of discovery and their unique physical features like their protruding type of eye brows (Smith & James, 2013). Ardipithecus ramidus is part of the ancient composition of the huminids category. The Ardipithecus ramidus class of species belongs to the first creatures of human evolution known as Austropithecines. The paleoanthropologists that are involved in finding and researching on the fossils suggest that Ardi from which ardipithecus originates and derives its name was one of the original huminids. These hominids possessed flat jaws (Barber &Berger, 2002).
Selected species Genus and species Time frame and geographic area (continent) where found Physical characteristic: Brain size (cranial capacity) Physical characteristic: Specialized skull and anatomical features Physical characteristic: Height and weight
Cultural characteristics: Tools or tool use or other evidence of culture
Its believed to have come from Ethiopia’s Awash River in Africa in around the past 4.4- 6 million years The brain was relatively small and approximate at about 20 % small than the current modern human brain These weighed around 30 kgs as their maximum weight.
They had a height rated at at least 3.3ft, approximately 100 cm maximum height The Ardipithecus ramidus specie survived on small animals, ripe fruits, leaves and also insects.
They were unable to accommodate or eat hard food stuffs due to their small molar teeth.
These lived in the time span of around 4.2 to 3.9 million years ago and were discovered in some parts of East Africa These species had a brain of relatively same size as that of Ardipithecus ramidus which relatively small and approximately at about 20 % small than the current modern human brain They were tree climbers and liked eating forest fruits and leaves
1.5 million – 250,000 years ago Location: began in Africa
Then migrated to Europe and Asia
There brain was larger than that oh Homo habalis but relatively smaller than that of Homo sapiens Homo erectus height and weight attributes were relatively similar to those of the current human beings. First to live during the ice age
First to make fire
Grunting, simple words and gestures
First to live during the Ice Age
Hunted Woolly Mammoth
Time span of heidelbergensis is rated between 400,000 to 100,000 years ago and was discovered in southern parts of East Africa and some parts of Europe. Their brains were around 10% smaller compared to the current modern human brains Their skulls did not have a modern appearance. These species had an average height of 5 feet and9 inches that is 175 cm and a weighed around 62 kilo grammas maximum These species were hunters of game animals that were of a relatively larger size than that of rabbits.
They used tricky techniques and tools in performing various tasks and also used fire in making most of their meals
100,000-40,000 years ago
Location: Migrated through Africa, Europe, and Asia Had brains having a capacity similar to modern and current human beings
Their widest portion of the skull was above the ear compared to modern skulls that have sides that are parrell to each other These species had a short height’
They had a strong and stocky body structure and weighed heavily. Hunted game animals which were relatively larger
They acquired natural skills in cloth making.
They also initiated the current burial ceremonies
Evolution Relationships of Hominin Species
The selected Hominin species of the two genie Ardi and Homo appear in the following order according to their time sequence as shown below;
1. Ardipithecus ramidus
2. Australopithecus anamenis
3. Homo erectus
4. Homo heidelbergensis
5. Homo neanderthalensis
From the order of sequence as listed above it can be vividly observed that Ardipithecus ramidus is one of the first true homids basing on the fossils discovered by different paleoanthropologists from most parts of Ethiopia in Africa and some parts of Asia in around 6.6 million years ago. It’s believed that the specie Ardipithecus ramidus human fossils were discovered around 4.4 years ago in areas of East Africa (McHenry, 1992). They are believed to have been interested in eating fruits, vegetables and nut foods. Basing on the various findings on skeleton appearances it’s believed that Ardipithecus ramidus species were of a bipedal type as observed from the shapes of their bones. The evolutionary relationship of Ardipithecus ramidus to modern humans also known as Homo sapiens is based on the shapes of their skull that had a close remembrance with the modern skull. They were however very primitive creatures due to their low brain capacity as compared to the current modern humans’ brain. It’s believed that their brain was around 20% small than the modern human brain.
According to McHenry (1992), Australopithecus anamenis specie is believed to be among the oldest species of the austropithecines species group that is known to have lived around 4.2 million years back or less. The Australopithecus human fossils were discovered in some parts of East Africa. These human fossils give a description of how current humans evolved based on the similar characteristics that the current human beings share with some of the earliest hominids’. The Homo erectus species shared the same traits in terms of the brain size and height as the current humans.
Based on the fossil evidence by most paleoanthropologists it’s believed that more than one kind of hominids lived on earth at the same time. It’s believed that around four hominins co-existed around 3.4 to 4.3 million years ago. Some hominines species underwent a mosaic evolution during the human evolution period. Mosaic evolution as related evolution can be explained as the evolution some human parts without affecting the parts of the body and it relates to different attributes between different hominid species. Some of the hominids like in the Australopithecines underwent different changes in some parts of the pelvis without affecting the general shape of the skull.
Conclusion and Reflections
According to the different findings by paleoanthropologists it has been discovered that there is a gap between the different fossil records and there is no true conclusion about the rightful sequential organization of the evolution modern human beings also known as homo sapiens but it can be predicted that the the earliest species belonged to the group of Ardi and the later species that transcended into current human beings originated from the homo group basing on the various human fossils that have discovered over the years. According to McHenry (1992), different paleoanthropologists and other scientific researchers are on the trend of discovering new human fossils to cater for the missing gaps in the evolution sequence and this has led to new findings relating to fossils that may be connected with the successors of the Australopithecus, meaning that there could have been another specie between the Australopithecus group and the Homo erectus groups of species in the human evolution sequence.
The recent research and discoveries related to human fossils for example the hobbits of flores have brought in new thoughts about human evolution and this has caused many controversies amongst different paleoanthropologists. Many sections of researchers believe that if the current discoveries are valid after being hypothesized then it should be concluded that some species like Homo floreseinsis are of an ancient origin of hominids and not in a nearer generation to the species that gave a split of the current human beings.
Barber, BH and Berger, L. Field Guide to the Cradle of Human Mankind. 2002.
Smith, H., James F. The Origins of Modern Humans. 2013.
McHenry, H. M. How Big were Early Hominids?. Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews, 1(1), 15-20. 1992.
Laurency, HT. The Stages of Human Development. 2004.