The exhibition goes back seven million years to sahelanthropus tchadensis and traces the numerous stages of man culminating with modern-day homo sapiens.
Each of the heads is used to tell its story: where they lived; what they ate; and what killed them.
It shows how researchers today use satellite image analysis and computer tomography.
There is little doubt that Africa is the cradle of humanity and this is where the most ancient of the remains were unearthed. But clues to other pre-human species have been found in the Middle East and Far East.
Only a few thousand fossils of pre-human species have ever been discovered and entire sub-species are sometimes known only from a single jaw or fragmentary skull.
Discovered in 2001 by a joint French-Chadian expedition in Chad led by Michel Brunet, this find was a surprise in many ways. This is one of the few early hominids found in central Africa rather than in the eastern and southern portions of the continent, and it is by far the oldest. Previously, it was thought that the Rift Valley of east Africa was a geographical boundary line between apes, who developed in the forests west of the line, and hominids, who were thought to have emerged in the drier eastern portion of Africa.
Toumai is approximately a million years older than the next oldest known hominid, dating to approximately seven million years in age. It should be noted that dating of remains in this part of Africa cannot be obtained by radiometric means, and instead is based on comparison of assemblages of fossils in east Africa, where absolute dates have been established. The comparisons provide reasonably certain dates.
This species was originally represented only by partial and fragmentary remains, including a single, mostly complete skull. Other fragmentary remains of this species, mostly teeth and jaws, have been found since, representing at least six and perhaps as many as nine individuals.
Part of the excitement about this find is that, given its age, this creature must have lived near the time of the presumed divergence of hominid from chimpanzee lines. In fact, estimates based on the “molecular clock” placed the divergence at somewhere between five and seven million years ago [the earliest estimates were 3 million years ago). The discovery of Orrorin tugenensis (see below) in the year 2000 had already pushed estimates back toward the earlier date.
Mrs Ples - who might have been an adolescent male - is a distant relative of all humankind. Australopithecus africanus became extinct between 2.1 and 2.2 million years ago, and Mrs Ples is the last recorded occurrence of the species.
At the opening of the exhibition Prof Yves Coppens, honorary patron of the exhibition and co-discoverer of Lucy, a three million year-old Australopithecus afarensis fossil discovered in 1974, said: "Thanks to the Taung Child, the first fossil specimen to represent Australopithecus, and Mrs Ples, we know that pre-humanity has been African and only African. Humanity has a uniquely African origin."
The species designation of Homo rudolfensis is a much debated topic, over both whether it is a separate species, and if it is an australopithecine rather than a member of the genus Homo. The type specimen of the species is KNM-ER 1470. This specimen was discovered by Richard Leakey's team in 1972, east of Lake Turkana at Koobi Fora in northern Kenya. This discovery was of a fairly complete cranium without any remaining teeth. Due to uncertainties created by its large brain size and its early initial dates, Leakey did not attribute the specimen to a species, but simply as a member of the genus Homo.
iscovered by Kamoya Kimeu in 1984 at Nariokotome near Lake Turkana in Kenya (Brown et al.1985; Leakey and Lewin, 1992; Walker and Leakey, 1993). This is an almost complete skeleton of an 11 or 12 year old boy, the only major omissions being the hands and feet. (Some scientists believe erectus matured faster than modern humans, and that he was really about 9 years old (Leakey and Lewin 1992).) It is the most complete known specimen of H. erectus, and also one of the oldest, at 1.6 million years. The brain size was 880 cc, and it is estimated that it would have been 910 cc at adulthood (a modern human of comparable size would be expected to have a brain size of about 1350 cc). The boy was 160 cm (5'3") tall, and estimates are that he might have been about 185 cm (6'1") as an adult. Except for the skull, the skeleton is very similar to that of modern boys, although there are a number of small differences. The most striking is that the holes in his vertebrae, through which the spinal cord goes, have only about half the cross-sectional area found in modern humans. One suggested explanation for this is that the boy lacked the fine motor control we have in the thorax to control speech, implying that he wasn't nearly as fluent a speaker as modern humans are (Walker and Shipman 1996).
Originally posted by randyvs
I doubt Darwins theory, even he had that much sense. Why argue about it
though, we all die. So we will all find out Gods truth in the end.
[edit on 24-3-2010 by randyvs]
But there's now only one species of human on the planet, and in the simplified view of evolution most of us have, that's all there has ever been. A few million years ago, most of us think, the half-ape known as Lucy appeared in Africa; eventually she begat a less apelike creature, who evolved in turn into something even more humanlike. Finally, after a few more begettings, Homo sapiens appeared. Except for that odd side branch known as the Neanderthals, the path from proto-apes to modern humans is commonly seen as a succession of new and improved species taking the place of worn-out evolutionary clunkers.
It's a satisfying, if slightly chauvinistic tale, but experts in human evolution have known for years that it is dead wrong. The evolution of a successful animal species almost always involves trial and error, false starts and failed experiments. "Humans are no exception to this," says anthropologist Ian Tattersall of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, "no matter what we like to think."
True, we're descended from a creature that split off from the apes millions of years ago. But subsequent events were hardly a steady march from primitivism to perfection. Human evolution more nearly resembled an elimination tournament. At just about any given moment in prehistory, our family tree included several species of hominids—erect, upright-walking primates. All were competitors in an evolutionary struggle from which only one would ultimately emerge. Then came yet another flowering of species that would compete for survival. Neanderthals simply represented the most recent version of that contest. And while we'd find it bizarre to share our world with another human species, the fact that we've been alone since the Neanderthals vanished some 30,000 years ago is an evolutionary aberration.
The notion that multiple human species are the norm, not the exception, has only got stronger with a series of major scientific discoveries. Since 1994, four new species of hominid have been added to the human family tree, with the latest announced just a few months ago. These date from 800,000 years ago all the way back to 4.4 million years B.P. (before the present).
On July 17, 1959 paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey discovered a fossilized skull from a previously unknown species of hominid that she and husband Louis Leakey named Zinjanthropus boisei. The 1.75-million-year-old fossil from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, turned the Leakey's into household names, and firmly established that the roots of the human family tree extended deep into antiquity. The name of the genus "Zinjanthropus" has since been dropped. Whether the fossil belongs to the genus Australopithecus along with its smaller cousins, Australopithecus afarensis and A. africanus, or deserves to be part of a separate genus called Paranthropus along with other large hominid species like Paranthropus robustus has been the subject of debate. Some population of the smaller, or gracile, Australopithecines were the ancestors of Homo habilis, Homo erectus, and eventually Homo sapiens, while Paranthropus was probably an evolutionary dead end. Whatever genus the fossil is assigned to, it is no longer believed to be a direct ancestor of modern humans, but one of a number of hominid species that lived in Africa millions of years ago. In honor of the 50th anniversary of this discovery, ARCHAEOLOGY Senior Editor Zach Zorich interviewed Mary and Louis's son Richard Leakey who still conducts paleoanthropological research in Kenya along with his wife Meave and daughter Louise. In addition to his scientific career, Richard is also an influential figure in Kenyan politics and wildlife conservation.
Researchers shaped this skull on the basis of this discovery of 'Zinj' in 1959. The adult male lived 1.8million years ago in the Olduvai Gorge of Tanzania. He would have fed himself on seeds, plants and roots which he dug out with bones
Originally posted by lambs to lions
I have a feeling that something just isn't right about the theory of evolution in regarding human from ape.
Originally posted by DangerDeath
reply to post by BeastMaster2012
It may be the case that those "ancestors" actually degraded into today's apes.
I am serious.
It is a known fact that today's humans have 10% smaller cranium volume than those from 150.000 ago.
[edit on 24-3-2010 by DangerDeath]