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Unformatted text preview: Anthropology chapter 6 notes The first bipeds Inclusion of any fossil specimen in the human evolutionary line depends upon evidence for bipedalism, the defining characteristic of the human line Most of the early bipeds are members of the genus Australopithecus, a genus that includes species from eastern, southern, and central Africa Today, genetic and fossil evidence both indicate that the human evolutionary line begins with a small brained bipedal ape from Africa The anatomy of bipedalism For a hominoid fossil to be definitively classified as part of the human evolutionary line, certain evidence of bipedalism is required. Bipedalism is associated with anatomical changes literally from head to toe Evidence of bipedalsim can even be preserved in the skull This is because balancing the skull above the spinal column in an upright posture requires a skull position relatively centered above the spinal column The shape of the pelvis also differs considerably between bipeds and other apes Rather than an elongated shape following the arch of the spine as seen in chimps, the biped pelvis is wider and foreshortened so that it can provide structural support for the upright body Another characteristic of bipeds is their stable arched feet and the absent opposable big toe The Pliocene fossil evidence: Australopithecus and other bipeds The effects of the Miocene epoch continued into the Pliocene The movement of geological plates supporting the African and Eurasian...
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