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Human Evolution Key Words

Acheulian

Tool culture of Homo erectus and archaic H. sapiens. Pear-shaped hand axes.

Ape

Includes gorilla, orangutan, gibbon and chimpanzee. No tail, large brain; brachiating knuckle walkers.

Australopithecus

Group of extinct omnivorous bipedal hominins. Includes A. anamensis, afarensis, africanus and some others.

Biological evolution

Evolution of bone, muscle, physiology and inherited behaviour. To be distinguished from cultural evolution.

Bipedalism

Walking on 2 legs. Only Australopithecus, Paranthropus and Homo genuses.

Brachiation

Swinging by arms as apes do.

Broca’s area

Area of brain that produces speech.

Brow ridge

Bony projection protecting eyes. Prominent in early hominins.

Burin

Tool used for making holes in skins, etc.

Condyle

Buttress of bone on the base of the femur. Humans have this on the outer base and apes on the inner. It prevents collapse of the knee inwards.

Cranium

Raised back of skull holding brain.

Cultural evolution

Evolution of culture (weapons, tools, art, music, ritual, etc.).

Diastema

Gap between incisors and canines to allow for space for the large canines.

Dryomorph

Early form of ape ancestral to both apes and humans.

Foramen magnum

Opening in the skull for attachment of the spinal cord.

Hominid

Family that includes apes and humans.

Hominin

Tribe (below subfamily) that includes humans and bipedal fossils like Australopithecus and Paranthropus. Also calledhominid.

Mesolithic

Middle Stone Age, characterized by fishing and foraging for wild grains.

Mousterian

Tool culture of Neanderthals.

Neolithic

New Stone Age — age of agriculture.

Nuchal crest

Attachment at the back of the skull for attachment of neck muscles.

Olduwan

Tool culture of Homo habilis.

Palaeolithic

Old Stone Age.

Paranthropus

Genus of vegetarian hominins includes P. aethiopicus, robustus and boisei.

Ponginae

Subfamily that contains orangutans.

Primate

Order that includes prosimians, monkeys, apes and humans.

Prognathism

Having a protruding muzzle.

Prosimian

Primitive monkey, eg lemur, loris, tarsier. Small, often solitary, nocturnal.

Quern stone

Rounded stone used for grinding grains into flour.

Sagittal crest

Bony projection on top of the cranium for attachment of chewing muscles.

Selection pressures

The environmental factors that favour certain phenotypes over others. (See the chapter on Evolution for more on this.)

Sexual dimorphism

Where the male is larger and has structural differences from the female.

Simian

Monkey-like.

Upper Palaeolithic

Culture of Homo sapiens.

Valgus angle

Carrying angle; the angle, less than 180°, between the femur and tibia. It indicates bipedalism.

Wernicke’s area

Area in the brain concerned with recognition of speech.

Zygomatic arch

Bone structure on side of cheek through which the chewing muscles go.

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