Homo habilis, Biology

Two important human fossils that throw much light on the human ancestory were discovered in .Olduvai beds in Africa and in central Java respectively. Although the development of bipedalism and the resultant fieeing of hands are being regarded as the first happening towards the evolution of the genus Homo, subsequent human evolution essentially depended on the dramatic expansion in the brain size. This development in brain size began about 2 million years ago. Fossils discovered in Kenya and Tanzania suggested that individuals had cranial capacities more than 650 C.C. and close to 800 C.C. The fossils represented the first appearance of the human kind and termed Homo habilis which meant 'handy man' a term coined by Louis Leakey and his colleagues in 1964. Homo habilis had several features common to A. africanus such as similar height and weight and bipedal walking. But a closer scrutiny showed distinct differences in having a larger head (Fig. 14.8) and shorter rounder neck, relatively flat and less protruding face. Further, this Homo genus showed teeth Iess massive than southern apes. The name handy man suggests that he is a maker of tools. New discoveries from 1972 by Richard Leakey 'at Koobi fora in Kenya showed fossiI hominid skulls with cranial capacities of 800 C.C. More importantly along with the skulls, tools were also found there which justified the specific name habilis for the species and the inclusion of species under Homo.

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