'Peking Man' Was a Fashion Plate
“Peking Man,” a human ancestor who lived in China between roughly 200,000 and 750,000 years ago, was a wood-working, fire-using, spear-hafting hominid who, mysteriously, liked to drill holes into objects for unknown reasons.
And, yes, these hominids, a form of Homo erectus, appear to have been quite meticulous about their clothing, using stone tools to soften and depress animal hides.
The new discoveries paint a picture of a human ancestor who was more sophisticated than previously believed.
Peking Man was first discovered in 1923 in a cave near the village of Zhoukoudian, close to Beijing (at that time called Peking). During 1941, at the height of World War II, fossils of Peking Man went missing, depriving scientists of valuable information. Read more.
Early Cannibalism Tied to Territorial Defense?
The earliest known instance of cannibalism among hominids occurred roughly 800,000 years ago. The victims, mainly children, may have been eaten as part of a strategy to defend territories against neighbors, researchers report online in the Journal of Human Evolution. The new study shows how anthropologists use the behavior of modern humans and primates to make inferences about what hominids did in the past—and demonstrates the limitations of such comparisons.
The cannibalism in question was discovered in the Gran Dolina cave site of Spain’s Atapuerca Mountains. Eudald Carbonell of the University of Rovira and Virgili in Spain and colleagues found evidence of butchering on bones belonging to Homo antecessor, a controversial species that lived in Europe as early as 1.2 million years ago. Because no other hominid species has been found in the region at the same time as the butchered bones, the victims must have been eaten by their own kind, the team concluded in 2010 in the journal Current Anthropology (PDF). Read more.
Hominidae taxonomy is ridiculously interesting
The evolution of man, the variety of hominids leading up to humans on their two feet, is something I wish to learn more about.
Last year, I went through the ‘Atlas of Fossil Man’ and copied a number of the skull illustrations. Admitedly, it’s a tad out of date, but it is still facinating stuff. I shall have to find a few more books on the subject, and have a proper read. And not just to make my drawings of trolls and ogres more grounded in reality, but also to reinforce my understanding of the subject.
Phillip Tobias dies at 86; South African expert on early man
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Phillip Tobias, a renowned South African paleoanthropologist and expert on early man and hominids, died Thursday. He was 86.
Tobias died in a Johannesburg hospital after a long illness, according to South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand, where he chaired the anatomy department from 1959 to 1990.
He “was one of the greats in human evolutionary studies,” Nick Barton, director of Oxford University’s Institute of Archaeology, told the Associated Press.
When Tobias turned 80 in 2005, he wrote of a life enriched by “coincidence, synchronism, eureka moments.”
“You go to search for something — an odd tree — and you find something else, something that may prove to be even more important than that which you had set out to examine! This is the essence of serendipity,” he wrote, describing a 1945 visit to a cave in Limpopo to see a twisted yellowwood tree when he was 20.
Kneeling in the sandy soil to get a better look at the tree, he felt something hard and pulled out an ancient stone tool. Read more.