Flashcards for Early Human Evolution
Topics 1-2:  Early Transitional Humans and Homo Erectus
(15 cards)

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Copyright 2005-2012 by Dennis O'Neil. All rights reserved.

The biological tribe of Homo and Australopithecus.

Hominini (hominins)

The species name of the most recent hominin.

Homo sapiens

The name of the first species of early transitional humans. They lived in East Africa about 2.4-1.6 million years ago and were relatively slender and small like their australopithecine ancestors but had larger brains.

Homo habilis

(some consider this species to be 2 sequential species--Homo rudolfensis and Homo habilis)

The continent on which all known Homo habilis lived.


The name of the species that was the immediate descendent of Homo habilis.

Homo erectus (some consider this species to be 2 sequential species--Homo ergaster and Homo erectus)

The first hominin species known to migrate out of Africa.

Homo erectus

The first person to discover Homo erectus fossils. He was a Dutch anatomist and medical doctor who made these discoveries while exploring in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) during the late 19th century.

Eugene Dubois

The name that Eugene Dubois gave in 1894 to the fossil hominin that he discovered in Java and Sumatra. His name for them literally meant "ape man who stands erect." They are now considered to be Homo erectus.

Pithecanthropus erectus

A limestone cave complex near Beijing China where, in 1927, bones of Homo erectus were discovered by Gunnar Anderson. This discovery sparked 10 years of intense excavations by Anderson, Davidson Black, and others that resulted in the discovery of the bones of 40 Homo erectus.


The scientific name given by Davidson Black to the Homo erectus found at Zhoukoudian in the 1920’s. The name literally means "Chinese man from Peking” (or Beijing). Black’s name for this species is no longer used by paleoanthropologists.

Sinanthropus pekinensis

The general location where a nearly complete Homo erectus skeleton was found in 1984 by Richard Leakey's team of paleoanthropologists. This skeleton of an unusually tall 12 year old boy dating to 1.6 million years ago was named the "Turkana Boy."

Lake Turkana, Kenya, East Africa

The species of the oldest hominin skeletons found in Europe. They were found during the 1990's on the fringes of Eastern Europe at Dmanisi in the Republic of Georgia. They date to 1.75 million years ago.

Homo erectus (some researchers consider these early fossils to have been Homo ergaster)

The term for a prominent projecting bony bar or brow ridge above the eyes. This trait was characteristic of Homo erectus and some other early humans. The two Latin words in this term literally mean “bony ridge above the eye.”

supraorbital torus (plural supraorbital tori)

The term for the distinctive shape of the incisor teeth of Homo erectus. Their incisors usually had a "scooped out" appearance on the tongue side. This characteristic is also found among many Asians and Native Americans today.

shovel-shaped incisors