Evolution of early Homo: an integrated biological perspective.

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Antón, Susan C; Potts, Richard; Aiello, Leslie C
Year of Publication: 2014
Journal: Science
Volume: 345
Issue: 6192
Pagination: 1236828
Date Published: 2014 Jul 4
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1095-9203
Keywords: Adaptation, Biological, Animals, Behavior, Biological Evolution, Body Size, Brain, Climate Change, Cognition, Diet, Ecology, Hominidae, Humans, Organ Size, Skull, Tooth

Integration of evidence over the past decade has revised understandings about the major adaptations underlying the origin and early evolution of the genus Homo. Many features associated with Homo sapiens, including our large linear bodies, elongated hind limbs, large energy-expensive brains, reduced sexual dimorphism, increased carnivory, and unique life history traits, were once thought to have evolved near the origin of the genus in response to heightened aridity and open habitats in Africa. However, recent analyses of fossil, archaeological, and environmental data indicate that such traits did not arise as a single package. Instead, some arose substantially earlier and some later than previously thought. From ~2.5 to 1.5 million years ago, three lineages of early Homo evolved in a context of habitat instability and fragmentation on seasonal, intergenerational, and evolutionary time scales. These contexts gave a selective advantage to traits, such as dietary flexibility and larger body size, that facilitated survival in shifting environments.

DOI: 10.1126/science.1236828
Alternate Journal: Science