Two Million BC

Two million years ago, there were multiple hominin species in Africa. There were two robust species that we know of, boisei in east Africa and robustus in southern Africa. The robusts had huge premolars and molars, and enormous jaw muscles running through a large zygomatic arch to attach all the way up to the sagittal crest in the middle of the skull. Gorillas have sagittal crests too, but with them it’s about powerful bites from incisors and canines. You, on the other hand, don’t have a sagittal crest. Your temporalis muscle only runs up to your temple.

The robusts are sometimes given their own genus Paranthropus, other times included in Australopithecus. This reflects uncertainty about their relationships. Did robust morphology evolve once, with both boisei and robustus evolving from aethiopicus? Or did it evolve independently several times, with robustus evolving from Australopithecus africanus in southern Africa?

P. boisei. Robust ancestor?

There was at least one genus of Homo around two million years ago, Homo habilis, with a larger brain than any australopithecine, but similar body size and long arms. There was also the recently discovered Australopithecus sediba, with brain not especially large, but maybe reorganized in a human direction, and teeth trending human-wards as well. . We don’t know if either of these guys was a human ancestor. Another candidate, Homo rudolfensis will show up soon.

A. sediba. Composite based on 3 individuals


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