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The Diet of Homo Erectus

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Evolution has occurred for millions of years, throughout time humans have changed from ape to human and many other animals have as well such as horses, mice and birds but what does evolution mean, The Merriam-Webster dictions 2019 defines evolution as “descent with modification from pre-existing species : cumulative inherited change in a population of organisms through time leading to the appearance of new forms : the process by which new species or populations of living things develop from pre-existing forms through successive generations” most mammals have evolved over years, human evolution can help people understand where we have come from and how much we have changed. However evolution can show us flaws within our environment and society because as other species have developed new technology and ways of living they haven’t cause major changes in human kind. Homo erectus is a relative of homo sapiens, they lived millions of years ago, In the genus homo, we have evolved and changed from species to another type of species. I will look at Homo Erectus as they are more similar to homo sapiens that earlier homo. Homo Erectus is known to have originated in the latest Pliocene/early Pleistocene and to have survived nearly the entire Pleistocene epoch, ranging from about 1.8 Ma to perhaps less than 100 ka (Antón, 2003), if homo erectus survived through the entirenty of the pleistocence epoch, they survived through the ice age, when many animals were killed off or made extinct. The cranium of H. erectus, with its low profile and average endocranial (brain) capacity of less than 1,000 cubic cm (61 cubic inches), is distinctly different from that of other humans, which is smaller than modern humans as homo sapiens can have a capacity of 2,000 cubic cm. Homo Erectus were bipedal, meaning they waked on two feet. Its suggested that homo erectus has bigger faces, with forward pointing of the lower jaw, homo erectus also were well equipped to preserve moisture, this was a physiological advantage as they would have been able to travel for longer, had stronger and more prominent brow bridges. They also had more larger teeth than homo sapiens. Rightmire, G. P. (1993) and (Rightmire & Tobias, 2017).

Its suggested that homo erectus lived in vegative environments/habitats, such as forests and shrubland Reed, K. E. (1997). Christopher boehm suggested that Homo Erectus was probably the first hominin to live in small, familiar band-societies similar to modern hunter-gatherer band-societies, this means that Homo Erectus hunted for their food, and lived in hunter-gather society groups. Homo Ergaster/Erectus are said to have had shorter guts than there predecessor, furthermore homo sapiens have shorter guts than homo erectus. Its suggested that homo erectus were adapted to eat meat due to their teeth, their teeth show that they were suited to an omnivore diet, which is both plants and animals matter (Robinson, Cummings, Jordan, & Zvelebil, 2014), the diet of Homo Erectus was good for them as they were very unlikely to gain excessive weight, this was also due to the reason that Homo Erectus were hunter-gatherers, this meant they were moving to get food meaning they were burning off fat from the meat they consumed. We have evolved since homo erectus, we carried onn being hunter-gatheres for some time, we have become much cleverer since homo erectus this is because our braincase has developed and the brain has developed over millions of years due to this we have been able to create new technology such as medicine, one which created by alexander flemming in 1928, Homo sapiens also gained the ability to use language, this was caused by transformation of sound-making systems (Ploog, D. (2004). Blumenbach (1969) provided the first morphology of homo sapiens. He distinguished homo sapiens from other mammals by such features as a chin, small jaws, small canines abutting small incisors, a large braincase balanced atop a vertical vertebral column, erect posture, bipedalism, a bowl-shaped pelvic girdle, “buttocks,” and a long thumb. So we are physically different from homo erectus. So what’s the difference between Homo Erectus and Homo Sapiens? Modern homo sapiens live in built up areas such as cities and town, this is different to earlier homo like homo erectus who lived in areas such as grassland, shrubs and forests Reed, K. E. (1997).

Our brain size is a bit bigger than that of the homo erectus, the maximum brain size of the homo erectus (1,000 cubic cm)was smaller than homo sapiens which is a maximum of 2000 cubic cm Rightmire, G. P. (1993), this brain advance helped develop homo sapiens more advanced language skills (Ploog, D. (2004), similarly homo erectus also used pre-modern language to communicate with others Hillert D. G. (2015). Homo erectus had bigger teeth and bigger jaw, this was well suited to their diet which included meat and plant material, unlike homo sapiens who have smaller jaw and smaller teeth, researchers have stated that this decrease was mostly due to the changes in the dietary habits of the species, these dietary changes are modern foods which are much softer on the teeth, meaning we don’t need to use our teeth for ripping raw meat and plant matter Emes, Y., Aybar, B., & Yalcin, S. (2011). Not much is known about specific diseases and conditions within homo erectus, however one of the world’s leading killers, tuberculosis (TB) has been found in a Homo erectus skeleton half a million years old Schmidt C. W. (2008), this tells us that homo erectus people may have suffered from TB and this could have maybe been a reason why some were maybe killed off however because Homo Erectus was the longest living hominid in the genus, this suggests that TB wasn’t a massive killer then. This evidence that TB affected them could be a reason why some people are more susceptible to the disease because as Homo Erectus died off TB genes could have been passed down. Homo Erectus didn’t have medicines so couldn’t be treated with drugs, however it now can be treated with drugs nowadays. As TB is still more prevalent in poorer and underdeveloped countries according to the World Health Organisation, this shows we still need technology to get rid of diseases and conditions because our evolution hasn’t changed the way were our able to fight and kill off diseases. So sometimes evolution cannot kill off or get rid of diseases, leaving them to the next species.

Bibliography

  1. Antón, S. C. (2003). Natural history of homo erectus. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 122, 126-170.
  2. Rightmire, G. P. (1993). The evolution of Homo erectus: comparative anatomical studies of an extinct human species. Cambridge University Press.
  3. Rightmire, G. P., & Tobias, P. V. (2017, October 23). Homo erectus. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Homo-erectus.
  4. Reed, K. E. (1997). Early hominid evolution and ecological change through the African Plio-Pleistocene. Journal of human evolution, 32(2-3), 289-322.
  5. Robinson, J., Cummings, V., Jordan, P., & Zvelebil, M. (2014). The first hunter-gatherers. The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology and Anthropology of Hunter-Gatherers, , 177.
  6. Boehm, C. (1999). Hierarchy in the forest: The evolution of egalitarian behavior. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.198
  7. Blumenbach, J. F. (1969). De generis humani varietate nativa [On the natural varieties of mankind]. New York: Bergman.(Original work published 1775).
  8. Hillert D. G. (2015). On the Evolving Biology of Language. Frontiers in psychology, 6, 1796. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01796
  9. Ploog, D. (2004). Homo sapiens?. The speciation of modern Homo sapiens, 106, 121
  10. Emes, Y., Aybar, B., & Yalcin, S. (2011). On The Evolution of Human Jaws and Teeth: A Review. Bull Int Assoc Paleodont. Volume, 5(1).
  11. Schmidt C. W. (2008). Linking TB and the environment: an overlooked mitigation strategy. Environmental health perspectives, 116(11), A478–A485. doi:10.1289/ehp.116-a478

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