Science is always evolving. New discoveries shape our current understanding of human evolutionary milestones such as bipedalism, the use of tools, dietary adaptation, changing body shapes and sizes, and life historys.
Join us to reflect on the roots of humanity as we explore key early hominin adaptations and their evolution through time. Speakers include: Zeray Alemseged, Adrienne Zihlman, Tanya Smith and Teresa Steele.
Teresa Steele is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropoplogy at the University of California, Davis.
Steele's research focuses on the emergence of the earliest people who were behaviorally, culturally, and anatomically modern.
Teresa Steele, an assistant professor of Anthropology at UC Davis, shows evidence that early hominids in Kenya ate fish and other aquatic animals, as well as hunted land mammals. Some scientists, she says, theorize that the varied diet contributed to growth and development of the human brain in these early populations.
The science of humanity. Anthropologists study human beings in aspects ranging from the biology and evolutionary history of Homo sapiens to the features of society and culture that decisively distinguish humans from other animal species. Because of the diverse subject matter it encompasses, anthropology has become, especially since the middle of the 20th century, a collection of more specialized fields. Physical anthropology is the branch that concentrates on the biology and evolution of humanity. The branches that study the social and cultural constructions of human groups are variously recognized as belonging to cultural anthropology (or ethnology), social anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and psychological anthropology. Archaeology, as the method of investigation of prehistoric cultures, has been an integral part of anthropology since it became a self-conscious discipline in the latter half of the 19th century.
Evolution of modern human beings from extinct nonhuman and humanlike forms. Genetic evidence points to an evolutionary divergence between the lineages of humans and the great apes on the African continent 85 million years ago (mya). The earliest fossils considered to be remains of hominins (members of the human lineage) date to at least 4 mya in Africa; they include the genus Australopithecus and other forms. The next major evolutionary stage, Homo habilis, inhabited sub-Saharan Africa about 21.5 mya. Homo habilis appears to have been supplanted by a taller and more humanlike species, Homo erectus, which lived from c. 1,700,000 to 200,000 years ago, gradually migrating into Asia and parts of Europe. Between c. 600,000 and 200,000 years ago, Homo heidelbergensis, sometimes called archaic Homo sapiens, lived in Africa, Europe, and perhaps parts of Asia. Having features resembling those of both H. erectus and modern humans, H. heidelbergensis may have been an ancestor of modern humans and also of the Neanderthals (H. neanderthalensis), who inhabited Europe and western Asia from c. 200,000 to 28,000 years ago. Fully modern humans (H. sapiens) seem to have emerged in Africa only c. 150,000 years ago, perhaps having descended directly from H. erectus or from an intermediate species such as H. heidelbergensis.