Australopithecines Vs. Homo

1486 Words6 Pages
Genetic evidence sheds considerable light on the origins of the hominid lineage. An increasing body of fossil data helps us to understand where and when hominids came into existence. The first signs of hominid evolution are the morphological changes associated with bipedality, a locomotor pattern that offered fitness, advantages in a new environment. However, other behaviors remained similar to those of nonhuman primates. Dramatic progress came with the evolution of Homo erectus, who exhibited more "human" morphology and life ways. Thus, behavioral, fossil and artifact data couple to give us a glimpse into our evolutionary past. The molecular clock is a method which determines how long ago a certain ancestor diverged into a new species. Up until the 1960's people believed that humans came into existence twenty million years ago, but Alan Wilson and Vincent Sarich came up with an idea to determine how closely related certain animals were and how much of their DNA was shared. They came up with something called DNA hybridization and mistakenly stumbled upon the molecular clock. Wilson and Sarich closely studied previous research done with pigs, elephants and horses, and according to these studies they had gotten an approximate number of how long ago these animal species came into existence. This measurement was called Genetic Distant Units. Using the DNA hybridization Wilson and Sarich compared pigs with boars, elephants with Indian elephants, and a horse and zebra. The difference between animals in genetic distance units matched up exactly to the millions of years these animals diverged into new species. This therefore, was named the Molecular Clock. The Molecular clock was used to figure out when humans diverged int... ... middle of paper ... ...orphism. Paternal investment was higher in the Homo erectus because of the higher levels of paternal certainty. This also helped with driving juvenile mortality down because juveniles were taken better care of by both parents. (Miller 11/10/05, 11/15/05, Jurmain et al. 2004:237-38, Boaz and Ciochon 2001: 131-132) In conclusion, the evidence on the origins of the hominid lineage has helped us to further understand where and when hominids came into existence. Fossil evidence shows morphological changes associated with bipedality allowing fitness advantage in new environments. Other behaviors have been shown through these fossils as well as the information we have today about nonhuman primates. Dramatic changes between the early australopithecines and Homo erectus are shown through fossil and artifact evidence giving us a window into the evolutionary past.

More about Australopithecines Vs. Homo

Open Document