Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Fossil Records of Early Modern Humans

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_1489

Introduction

Efforts to understand the origin of Homo sapiens were bedeviled for decades by the inclusion within our species of a host of late Middle or Late Pleistocene “archaic” fossils possessing cranial morphologies that deviated, sometimes enormously, from those we see among humans living today. In recent years, however, it has begun to dawn on some paleoanthropologists that modern Homo sapiens is actually very distinctive, and highly derived in its morphology, and that it makes most biological sense to include within this species only fossils that bear significant osteodental hallmarks of the living form (Tattersall & Schwartz 2009; Schwartz & Tattersall 2010). This morphological requirement makes the search for the origins of Homo sapiens more straightforward, although not necessarily easier.

Definition

Without doubt, the single most significant cranial apomorphy of the living species Homo sapiensis the retraction of its small facial skeleton beneath the front of a more or...

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Further Reading

  1. Bowler, J. M. et al. 2002. New ages for human occupation and climatic change at Lake Mungo, Australia. Nature 421: 837-40.Google Scholar
  2. Rougier, H. et al. 2007. Pestera cu Oase 2 and the cranial morphology of early modern Europeans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 105: 1165-70.Google Scholar
  3. Tattersall, I. 2009. Human origins: out of Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 106: 16018-21.Google Scholar
  4. Tillier, A.-M., B. Arensberg, H. Duday & B. Vandermeersch. 2001. Brief communication: an early case of hydrocephalus: the Middle Paleolithic Qafzeh 12 child (Israel). American Journal of Physical Anthropology 114: 166-70.Google Scholar
  5. Wu, L. et al. 2010. Human remains from Zhirendong, South China, and modern emergence in East Asia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 107: 19201-6.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of AnthropologyAmerican Museum of Natural HistoryNew YorkUSA