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Tuesday, 28 November 2023, 11:30 (11:30 AM) CST, day 332 of 2023

Prehistoric Cultures

Fall 2012 Calendar -- DAY  [archive]

Fall 2012 Calendar  -- EVENING [archive]

Dates and Times to Remember 

class slides on-line 

Tuesday, 28 November 2023, 17:30 (05:30 PM) GMT, day 332 of 2023
. . . in History 
  . . . in Headlines

      Babel Fish Translation 
~ translate this page

OWL logo, Online Writing Lab, Purdue University.

The First Family

Ethiopia’s Afar desert (

(1980, ca. 60 min., M 289)
(Cf., Children of Eve)

hominid chart

video schedule

This film also relates to Australopithecus afarensis and the methods of archaeological discovery and interpretation. Note how archaeologists and allied specialists work in the field


Terms / Concepts

  • anatomy

    • mandible

      • mandibular ramus

    • innominate bone (side of the pelvis)

      • ilium
    • saggital crest

    • supraorbital tori (brow ridges)

    • knuckle walking (not a stage that hominids have gone through)

  • methods

  • hominid

    • upright posture -- bipedalism (note posture and locomotion)

  • provisioning hypothesis

    • Owen Lovejoy

    • There may have been a change from the males "notifying" females of a food source to actually bringing them food

  • range of variation

  • "primitive" = "ape-like"

  • "African apes" = gorilla and chimpanzee

    • are knuckle walkers


  • The expedition first found a knee joint in 1973, the first year of fieldwork at Hadar

    • Lucy in 1974

    • and the "First Family" in 1975 at Locality 333

    • Lucy, a 40% complete skeleton is no longer the oldest and most complete hominid in the world

    • The earliest probable hominids now include


  • About halfway through the first reel, as they are inspecting a new fossil find, Don Johanson says something like "It's amazing when you think that three and a half million years ago there were humans living on this same locality." (He means here, "hominids," rather than "humans," not any fossils from the genus Homo)

  • Archaeology has changed from individuals doing small projects and looking at "a few hundred specimens" by themselves to large multidisciplinary teams of international scientists doing coordinate excavations involving "hundreds of thousands of specimens."

    • The 1975 International Afar Research Expedition, for example, took 15 science specialists to the field

  • Large collections of fossils, like you see in the scenes from the Cleveland Museum labs, allow anthropologists to understand "range of variation"

  • With the Hadar "First Family" collection from Locality (Site) 333, "there is a "gradient" from very large to very small

    • that is, there are fossils that "'span the gap' in terms of size, between large and small"

  • The brain, jaws, teeth and dentition are very "primitive" (i.e., ape-like

  • Unexpected sequence: bipedalism (3.7 mya) --> tool manufacture (2.4 [2.6] mya) --> brain expansion (1.8 mya)

    • Homo erectus dates back to 1.8 mya

    • What was in their environment that favored upright walking?

  • No other animals' bones other than hominid were found at Locality (Site) 333

    • The paleontologists found only fossil hominid bones, including over 200 specimens of 15 individuals (men, women, and children)

Cultures / People



Publications / Bibliography

  • Johanson, Donald C.; and Edey, Maitland A. 1981. Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind. NY: Simon and Schuster.

  • Leakey, Richard E.; and Lewin, Roger. 1978. People of the Lake: Mankind and Its Beginnings. NY: Avon.

Orrorin / Ardipithecus / Australopithecus / Kenyanthropus

Alternative Name













 "Black Skull"


(aka A. robustus)





"Flat-faced Kenya Man"  
"Millenium Man"

Adapted from Intoduction to Physical Anthropology, 8th ed, Jurmain, Nelson, Kilgore, and Trevathand
(Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2000, pp. 285 - 290).

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