By David R. Begun (ed.)
A spouse to Paleoanthropology provides a compendium of readings from prime students within the box that outline our present wisdom of the foremost discoveries and advancements in human origins and human evolution, tracing the fossil list from primate and hominid origins to the dispersal of contemporary people around the globe. Represents an available state of the art precis of the complete box of paleoanthropology, with an outline of hominid taxonomy. gains articles at the key discoveries in ape and human evolution, in cranial, postcranial and mind evolution, progress and improvement. Surveys the breadth of the paleontological list from primate origins to trendy people. Highlights the original tools and strategies of paleoanthropology, together with relationship and ecological equipment, and use of residing primate date to reconstruct habit in fossil apes and humans. Read more...
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Additional resources for A Companion to Paleoanthropology
New techniques, however, are being developed to date fossils THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF PALEOANTHROPOLOGY 7 directly. Recent advances in the field of geochronology have vastly improved the precision and accuracy of dating methods, and have expanded the reliable ranges of many techniques, so that today nearly the entire time-period of primate and human evolution is covered by reliable dating techniques, when the geological circumstances are favorable. Chapter 14 is a review of Paleolithic archeology, the record of the technology, and its impacts, during the course of human evolution until the origins of agriculture.
Other morphological features implicated in the reconstruction of behavior (other than diet and positional behavior) include brain size and orbital dimensions (nocturnal primates have larger eye sockets on average). There are many caveats to reconstructing behavior from the fossil record when there lacks a direct mechanical explanation linking behavior and anatomy (like powerfully built jaws and powerful chewing), but this does not make it less worthwhile or important. Consider how much we have learned about dinosaurs from the discovery of their nests and grouping patterns and the surprising insights this has provided about their strategies for rearing their young.
Given the number of false starts, it is very difficult to know which among these early bipeds led to modern humans. In fact, we do not even know if any of the known fossil hominins are directly related to modern humans, and I would argue that there is a good chance that none of them are. But one of the known early hominins is probably more closely related to the genus Homo than are the others. Deciding which one is the best candidate is going to take some more time. Another clear aspect of the study of hominid systematics is the nearly universal application of the principles of cladistics analysis (Strait, Chapter 3).