Re: Homo erectus

Harry Erwin (
Tue, 27 Jun 1995 22:19:02 -0400

In article <>, (Stephen Younge) wrote:

> Okay, here is another memory test.
> This time, on H. erectus and his tool industry.
> Any corrections would be greatly appreciated.
> Homo Erectus - Java and Peking Man
> ==================================
> . 1.5 mya - 400 kya

1.9+ to 0.4- MYr

> . 780-1225 cc brain, almost human size

Given the folks around the Torres Straits with women with 750 cc brains
and fully modern behavior/intelligence, 'almost' is an understatement.

> . stocky, human-like body, bigger than H. habilis

About 20-40 pounds more, but the earliest H. erectus were very tall and
very thin--very similar in body form to the Turkana people. Would probably
have made good basketball players 8).

> . found in Java, China, and Africa

Europe, too.

> . evidence suggests use of fire

Around 400 KYr.

> . increased but infrequent group hunting

Perhaps even modern in this area.

> . brain sufficiently developed for language

Do you mind if I stand some distance away from you in case of lightning
bolts? That is speculative, but not unlikely.

> . crude shelters and migration to colder areas
> . used Acheulean tool industry

In the western areas. Other industries in other portions of the world.
BTW, Wolpoff's hypothesis (simultaneous transition to H. sapiens in all
areas) _requires_ an external common cause for the transition. Genetic
innovations ('out of Africa') don't work that way--they entrain
selectively neutral characteristics to fixation. (This is called
"premature convergence" and can be used as a quantitative test to
differentiate between the two models.) Behavioral innovations do work
somewhat more like Wolpoff's model, but they can have much different
dynamics and are much faster than either of the other two hypotheses.

> Acheulean Tool Industry
> =======================
> . associated with H. erectus of Africa, Europe, and Asia

And other groups. But not in Asia.

> . hand axes, pear-shaped tools with sharp cutting edges
> . 1.4 mya - 750 kya
> . shaped by regular blows rather than random strikes (Oldowan)
> . choppers, cleavers
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Stephen Younge
> University of Waterloo
> Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Harry Erwin
Home Page: (try again if necessary)
PhD student in comp neurosci: "Glitches happen" & "Meaning is emotional"