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20 - Patterns of Middle Pleistocene hominin evolution in Africa and the emergence of modern humans

from Part III - Modern human origins: patterns and processes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 April 2012

Sally C. Reynolds
Affiliation:
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Andrew Gallagher
Affiliation:
University of Johannesburg
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Summary

Abstract

Over the last two decades, different views have emerged on the mode of Middle Pleistocene evolution in Africa, and the origin of modern humans. These mainly range from an evolutionary change within one species Homo sapiens over much of the Middle Pleistocene, to the existence of two or three different species during this time. This chapter presents the results of a new comprehensive study of the Middle and early Late Pleistocene cranial remains based on a large number of both non-metric and metric features of potential phylogenetic relevance. The aim of the study is to examine whether modern human cranial morphology is a result of long-term diachronic changes favouring a single evolving species, H. sapiens, or whether multiple Middle Pleistocene species were involved in the evolution to modern H. sapiens. Results from this study suggest that the origin of modern human anatomy is a product of a continuous remodelling of major aspects of vault and face from conditions seen in early Middle Pleistocene groups. The increasing mosaic-like emergence and accumulation of more derived, near-modern or modern morphology over this long period of time does not provide convincing evidence for any anagenetic or cladogenetic speciation events. Rather, it appears that any patterns or subdivisions were below the species level.

Type
Chapter
Information
African Genesis
Perspectives on Hominin Evolution
, pp. 394 - 422
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2012

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