Human evolution and the fossil record

Yet paleoanthropologists have found numerous hominid fossils to bridge the evolutionary progression from that unknown common ancestor to modern humans. The oldest footprints indicative of contemporary foot function, however, have been found in Ileret, Kenya.

It stood upright, but its brain was far too small to qualify as human. For a number of reasons.

Did humans evolve from apes

Biologists have actually observed evolution happening in other species, both in the field and in the lab—the recent emergence of antibiotic-resistant microbes is a form of evolution. The twentieth century brought a great many more fossils of humans and hominids. Look at an unfolding embryo, a genome, or a skeleton and you will see our inner fishes, our inner mammals, our inner apes. They are part of the larger discipline of evolutionary biology and although they are paleontologists, they tend to be called paleoanthropologists because for much of the evolutionary history of humans, cultural evolution was occurring in step with biological evolution. Naturally, paleoanthropology also plays a key role, as we have to turn to the fossil record for many clues about our ancient primate, human and nearly human ancestors. Yes, if you think the Bible has to be interpreted literally. Today twenty hominid species have been identified, the oldest of which date back six million years.

Although a fossil is only a snapshot of a moment in evolutionary history, if you find enough of them, and if you can link them up through their anatomy, and if you can date them reliably with geological and geochemical methods, you can construct a family tree that explains how organisms that once lived on Earth contributed to the life that inhabits it today.

Is evolution over, for us or for the other apes? But in time, as more fossils were uncovered in Asia, scientists came to recognize that Dubois had indeed found the first representative of the ancient species, Homo erectus.

human fossil finds

Over the years, naturalists had uncovered a few stone tools lying alongside the fossils of extinct mammals. At the same time, the curved fingers and toes, laterally flared ilia, and short femurs with long upper limbs, as well as the configuration of its rib cage, indicate that they could readily climb and maneuver in trees.

human evolution chart

The next year, Eugene Dubois lefta young anatomist from Holland traveled to Indonesia in the hopes of finding fossils of early man.

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Human Evolution: Understanding our Fossil Record