In this post, I will share with you two things. The first is what I consider a rather comprehensive series of skulls showing human evolution with a chimpanzee skull on the left end, and a modern human skull on the right. The intervening skulls belong to various fossil hominids, all arrayed in chronological order:
This image should be showing you how human evolution played out on the form of the primate skull. We retained forward facing eyes. The most glaring change I note is that from an ancestral ape you can see how our brains have been getting bigger and bigger and our teeth smaller and smaller.
I have some slight problems with this image, though. The biggest problem, and a common misconception I see in regards to understanding human evolution, is the whole we descended from chimpanzees train of thought. This image compounds it. The lineage of primates that have become the chimpanzees have been evolving independently of the human lineage. And because the non-human primate fossil record is rather spotty — it is hard to see these types of trends and transitions that we see in the above image happen along in chimpanzees.
Working on that note, this composition implies that our ancestral form was a chimp and once the chimp and human lines diverged then humans went through many natural selection events while chimps just remained stagnant as chimps. That’s wrong. Chimps and humans share a common ape ancestor.
Aside from using this image to clarify trends and misunderstandings in human evolution, the second thing I wanted to do with this post was warm you up to some good news in regards to my involvement on a physical anthropology project. That’s all I can say for now. I’ll be trickling posts like these to wet your appetite.