Contact: Kathryn Sabella
Caption: A large brain, long legs, the ability to craft tools and prolonged maturation periods were all thought to have evolved together at the start of the Homo lineage in response to the Earth’s changing climate; however, scientists now have evidence that these traits arose separately rather than as a single package. In July 2014, Smithsonian paleoanthropologist Richard Potts and a team of researchers analyzed new scientific data and concluded that the ability of early humans to adjust to changing conditions ultimately enabled the earliest species of Homo to vary, survive and begin spreading from Africa to Eurasia 1.85 million years ago.
Credit: Antón, Potts and Aiello (2014), Science 345(6192).
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Related news release: Smithsonian scientist and collaborators revise timeline of human origins