Human Evolution: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short by Bernard Wood

By Bernard Wood

The new discovery of the diminutive Homo floresiensis (nicknamed "the Hobbit") in Indonesia has sparked new curiosity within the examine of human evolution. during this Very brief advent, well known evolutionary pupil Bernard wooden lines the heritage of paleoanthropology from its beginnings within the eighteenth century to modern day newest fossil unearths. alongside the way in which we're brought to the energetic forged of characters, prior and current, occupied with evolutionary learn. even if focusing on the fossil facts for human evolution, the ebook additionally covers the newest genetic proof approximately nearby diversifications within the smooth human genome that relate to our evolutionary background. wooden attracts on over thirty years of expertise to supply an insiders view of the sphere, and demonstrates that our figuring out of human evolution is severely depending on advances in similar sciences reminiscent of paleoclimatology, geochronology, systematics, genetics, and developmental biology. this can be an incredible creation for an individual attracted to the origins and improvement of humankind.

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This would have exposed much of what we call the continental shelf. Reductions in sea level of this magnitude allowed modern human ancestors to migrate from the Old World to both Australasia and the New World. 36 Chapter 4 Fossil hominins: analysis and interpretation Palaeoanthropologists use many methods to work out the significance of newly discovered fossil evidence. The hominin fossils must be assigned to a taxon, or taxa, the taxa must be classified, their relationships to other fossil and living taxa worked out, and their behaviour reconstructed.

Scientists think that most of the hominin fossils found in the southern African caves were taken there by leopards or hyenas, or by bone-collecting animals such as porcupines. Although Africa is the major focus of fieldwork today, it was not that way until well into the 20th century. Before that time the search for human fossils was conducted in Europe and Asia. Europe was where the first prehistorians lived and worked, so it is to be expected that they would have taken advantage of any opportunity that presented itself in their own region before looking for the fossil remains of our ancestors in more exotic places.

Sedimentary rocks that form in caves are also prone to being jumbled up in even more complex ways. Water that percolates down from the surface can soften and then dissolve old sediments. This produces Swiss-cheese-like cavities, which are then filled by more recent sediments. So within caves new sediments may be below old ones. Earth scientists use the appearance, texture and distinctive chemistry of rocks to describe and classify them. For example, they might refer to one layer as a ‘pink tuff ’, or another as a ‘silty-sand’.

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