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Homo habilis

The word “Hominids” denotes all the members of the family of humans, Hominidae, who have close links with our last common ancestor of humans and living apes. This group of fossil-Hominids is included in the super family of apes, the Hominoidea and they are called as Hominoids. Our list of Hominid fossils is not a complete one yet it serves as a good outline to understand the human evolution. From the timeline of human evolution, we have chosen the species- Homo habilis for our study.

Homo habilis is a well known species. The Leakey Team found this specimen in the year, 1960, in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. There was a controversy, up through 1970s regarding the acceptance of this specimen as an entirely new set of species. The material gained was deemed by the other researchers as not something different from the species A. africanus to become another species. But Louis Leakey was convinced that this specimen was the same as that of the Olduvai toolmaker that he had been looking out for.

Therefore, Leakey placed it directly under the human ancestors list with H. erectus at the other end. Description: The Team of Leakey consisted of Louis Leakey himself, John Napier, and Philip Tobias. They distinguished their specimen from precontemporary Australopithecines because of the teeth whose range fell outside the known range of A. africanus, they have got large incisors. Raymond Dart named it in January 1964 as Homo habilis meaning-“handy man”. This was due to the tool making ability of this species.

The species is said to consist of a nearly complete left parietal , a fragmented right parietal. Its mandibular body is almost complete (13 teeth), an upper molar, and twenty-one finger, hand and wrist bones. This is deduced from the body of a 12 or 13 year old male specimen. The traits which separate it from the other transitional species i. e. A. africanus and H. erectus are: -Expanded Cranial capacity -Reduced post canine tooth size -Precision grip; which allows it to make tools on an anatomical basis . Placement:

The Paleoanthropoligists are yet in a confused state: the classification of Homo habilis in the genus Homo is a big question, as the remains of many specimens point towards its inclusion in the Australopithecines. Leakey and the team had to redefine the genus-Homo, to accommodate this oldest representative of this genus. OH 7 or Olduvial Hominid 7 specimen was studied. The team based their placement of OH7 in Homo according to the brain expansion. The brain size of this genus are –lower limit-700cc and the cutoff-800cc.

Leakey and the other Team members lowered the Lower limit to 600cc and put their new species with a brain size of 680cc in it. Besides, the anatomical differences between the OH7 from the Australopithecus, is the behavior i. e. the tool making ability, which has placed it in the genus Homo. The big question of its inclusion in the genus Homo was cleared after the discovery of KNM ER 1470 another specimen; this made its acceptance universal. Homo habilis is the first tool maker, who lived in Africa who were taller and had a larger brain.

They lived from-2. 4 to 1. 5 million years ago. Habilis is associated with Olduwan tool industry which is characterized by crude stone flakes, rounded hammer stones and bones for digging. The Koobi Fora Research Project has found 2 new fossils- which would help us our genus Homo even better(discovery made by Meave and Louise Leakey), affiliated with the National Museums of Kenya. Homo erectus is said to have come from Homo habilis, but this discovery showed us that they co-existed in the same Lake Region for about more than half a million years ago.

Therefore, Meave Leakey; Paleontologist, The Koobi for a Research Project said that their co-existence makes it unlikely for Homo erectus to have evolved from Homo habilis. But it is said that although they lived in the same region, yet they remained separate this suggests that the two species did not compete together for their resources. This leaves us to find the ancestral species that actually gave birth to both habilis and erectus, which was somewhere between two and three million years ago. There is something called the Introduction of Childhood that began with Homo habilis.

A general bonding by sympathy and affection is said to have begun by vocalization at this stage of human evolution-this is called the Babbling Speech. Homo habilis is said to be a remarkably successful species, whose fossils are said to be found as far away as Indonesia showing us that they grew in large number quickly and shifted their places of residences too. This explains to us -why the Australopithecines got extinct- as greater survival ability was required to exist.


• -Linked to footnote 3-The Talk Origin Archive, exploring the creation/evolution-by Jim Foley controversy, available at-http://www.talkorigins. org/faqs/homs/ -Archaelogy. info by C. David Kreger-http://www. archaeologyinfo. com/homohabilis. htm • -Footnote no – 5 linked to- http://www. archaeologyinfo. com/homohabilis. htm • Paleoanthropology, linked to footnote no 6- http://cogweb. ucla. edu/ep/Paleoanthropology. html#Family • Linked to footnote no 7- http://anthropology. si. edu/humanorigins/ha/hab. html • Linked to footnote no 8,science News, Aug 13, 2007- http://www. sciencedaily. com/releases/2007/08/070813093132. htm

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