Thursday, August 20, 2015

Modern Hand Digit at 1.84 Mya

A story in Lab Equipment has spotlighted new evidence that modern human morphology was present in early hominins at 1.84 million years ago.  From the story:
“The new Olduvai fossil represents the earliest known hominin hand bone with (modern human-like) appearance,” they wrote. “Our results, along with the archaeological record, reveal that instead of following an orderly trend, eventually culminating in the modern human condition, some ‘primitive’ hand bone morphologies persisted side-by-side with (modern human-like) hand bone morphologies well after the first appearance of stone tools and zooarchaeological evidence of their use for butchery by at least (2.6 million years ago).”
This makes sense. Evolution happens at the trait level, not the species level. There are numerous examples of some traits becoming more modern over time, while some retained archaic dimensions.What is not clear is whether or not it is from early Homo or Australopithecus (Paranthropus) boisei.  If it is from Paranthropus, then the modern morphology extends back at least to the point where the later diversification of australopithecines occurred, between 2.5 and 3.0 mya and, perhaps, longer. 

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