281 pages, Figs, tabs
Advances in fossil studies relating to the origin of Homo sapiens have strengthened the hypothesis that our direct ancestors originated on the African continent. Most researchers also agree that the time when prehumans diverged from the last common ancestor was in the early part of the Late Miocene epoch.
Focus must now shift from determining the times and places of hominid origins to clarifying hominid evolutionary problems, such as the selective factors and acquisition processes of hominid bipedalism. In March of 2003, researchers from Africa, Europe, Japan and the United States convened in Kyoto for a symposium on Human Origins and Environmental Backgrounds, an interdisciplinary effort to consider these evolutionary puzzles, to report current research and to exchange thoughts towards better understanding the relationship among environmental changes, adaptive mechanisms and human origins. This book is the result of that symposium, and includes a diverse and unique set of papers on topics such as hominid evolution, dispersal and morphology, and the origins of bipedalism.
40 years of footprints in Japanese primatology and paleoanthropology.- Seven Decades of East African Miocene Anthropoid Studies.- Evolution of the Vertebral Column in Miocene Hominoids and Plio-pleistocene Hominids.- Terrestriality in a Middle Miocene Context: Victoriapithecus from Maboko, Kenya.- Late Cenozoic Mammalian Biostratigraphy and Faunal Change: Paleoenvironments of hominoid evolution and dispersal.- The Ages and Geological Backgrounds of Miocene Hominoids Nacholapithecus, Samburupithecus and Orrorin from Kenya.- Patterns of Vertical Climbing in Primates.- Functional Morphology of the Midcarpal Joint in Knuckle-Walkers and Terrestrial Quadrupeds.- Morphological Adaptation of Rat Femora to Different Mechnaical Environments.- A Hallmark of Humankind: The gluteus maximus muscle: Its form, action and function.- Primates Trained for Bipedal Locomotion as a Model for Studying the Evolution of Bipedal Locomotion.- Locomotor Energetics in Nonhuman Primates: A review of recent studies on bipedal performing macaques.- Computer Simulation of Bipedal Locomotion: Toward elucidating correlations among musculoskeletal morphology, energetics and the origin of bipedalism.- Palaeoenvironments, Paleoecology, Adaptations and the Origins of Bipedalism in Hominidae.- Arboreal Origin of Bipedalism.- Neontological Perspectives on East African Middle and Late Miocene Anthropoidea.- The Prehominid Locomotion Reflected: Energetics, muscles and generalized bipeds.- Evolution of the Social Structure of Hominoids: Reconsideration of food distribution and the estrus sex ratio.- Are Human Beings Apes, or are Apes People Too?- Current Thoughts on Terrestrialization in African Apes and the Origin of Human Bipedalism.
From the reviews: "The book has 3 broad themes: fossil hominoids and paleoenvironments; functional morphology, and theoretical approaches ! . it is an excellent all-round book for researchers and graduate students that clearly identifies the future challenges in our understanding of human evolution. ! key papers in the volume make a considerable contribution towards a better understanding of the relationship among environmental changes, adaptive mechanisms and human origins, and for this reason readers interested in the topic will find new perspectives and new directions in its pages." (Susannah K. S. Thorpe, Folia Primatologica, Vol. 78 (4), 2007) "Human Origins and Environmental Backgrounds is a compendium text for any advanced student of human origins and evolution. ! I envision a beginning graduate student benefiting from the wide array of topics covered, and delving further into the cited literature. ! For those who have an interest in the rise and functional morphology of bipedal locomotion and its environmental contexts, Human Origins and Environmental Backgrounds is well worth the read." (Rhonda L. Quinn, Journal of Mammal evolution, Vol. 16, 2009)
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