The human lineage is a branch of the huge evolutionary tree of the Hominoidea, which today includes ourselves, chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and gibbons. All extant hominoids, except for the single world-wide species Homo sapiens, are now endangered and restricted in their distribution to tropical/subtropical forests of Africa and Southeast Asia. However, hominoids were once a more flourishing group millions of years ago. In the Miocene, there were various kinds of hominoid primates, and their distribution was much wider than today, from the southern tip of Africa through Arabia, to Europe in the west and through India to China in the east. It is from this great diversity of Miocene hominoids that the earliest human ancestors emerged, probably during the Late Miocene. The first part of this article provides readers with general information about extant hominoids. The second part is devoted to Miocene fossil hominoids with emphasis on African fossils. Although the main subject of this article is fossil hominoids, some recent findings of early hominids are also mentioned to at the end.
The past decade has seen an incredible amount of new hominid fossils recovered from the late Miocene and Pliocene of Africa. This paper reviews these discoveries. It is suggested that there exists little support for the often stated view of considerable phyletic diversity in the hominid fossil record.
A framework of climatic changes and archaeological chronologies during the Last Glacial is discussed with particular reference to the correlation among MIS stages, GISP2 ice core oscillation, and calibrated radiocarbon dates from palaeolithic sites in Rhineland, Germany as one of the most intensively studied areas in Central Europe. Although the fine chronologies have been set up in the last decade, an analysis of a concrete example of a palaeollithic site is needed when hominid adaptation in the Last Glacial has to be discussed. This paper focuses on the subsistence of a late Magdalenian Gennersdorf settlement in the oldest Dryas period. Excavations have revealed two large houses, one big hut, and two small huts. Archaeological features that have been well preserved made it possible to set out a hypothesis that the large house was repeatedly used every winter and the small huts were used in summer by different human groups, in relation to the lithic raw material, procurement systems. Hominids of the late Palaeolithic period were characterized by having developed a subsistence system for the all round adaptive procurement of environmental conditions through seasonal migrations.
Aspects of cultural transmission in humans are reviewed with special reference to evidence for and against vertical (parent-to-child) and non-vertical transmission. Henrich's (2001) model of biased horizontal transmission may satisfactorily account for the S-shaped adoption curves (e.g., for the spread of hybrid seed corn). The demic expansion hypothesis for the spread of early farming in Europe (Ammerman and Cavalli-Sforza, 1971, 1973) is reevaluated in the light of new theoretical results (Aoki et al., 1996). Hewlett et al.'s (2002) test of the demic expansion, acculturation, and cultural-materialistic hypotheses on 36 African ethnic groups is described.
In 1968, a US drilling team succeeded in drilling through the full depth of the Ice Sheet at Byrd station, West Antarctica, following a similar success on the Greenland Ice Sheet in 1966. From the temperature profile derived from oxygen isotopic analyses of these cores, synchronized climatic change in the north and south polar regions during the glacial-interglacial cycle was confirmed. Following this success, several attempts at deep ice drilling in the Antarctic Ice Sheet have been carried out. A Japanese glaciological team succeeded in deep ice drilling at Dome Fuji, one of the summits of East Antarctica. The results of an analysis of the Dome Fuji core to a depth of 2500 m reveal global climatic and environmental changes during the last 320, 000 years. Changes in the living human environment are discussed in view of these climatic changes.
A review of the current knowledge of glacial chronologies obtained by optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and cosmogenic radionuclide (CRN) dating methods from the Himalayas is presented. The areas include Pamir-Alai, Chitral, Swat, Nanga Parbat, Hunza, Lahul, Zanskar, Garhwal, Khumbu, and Kanchenjunga. These data show that the local last glacial maximum occurred during the early part of the last glacial cycle in the Western Himalaya, Karakorum, and Hindukush. It is also shown that a synchronous glacial re-advance occurred at around 10 ka. However, more precise dates are needed to reconst the glacial history of the Himalayas, and to discuss the forcing mechanism of glacial fluctuations.
Global ice volume during the last glacial stage was obtained using geological observations from the sites located away from the former glaciated regions. The advantage using such records is that the area has been less influenced from the readjustments of the crust due to glacial isostasy. However the effect is still not negligible in those areas and hence it is required to correct sea-level records for both glacio-and hydro-isostatic effect to extract past global ice volume information. The record shows progressive growth of global ice volume since the end of the Last Interglacial. Rapid fluctuations of the volume were also observed during the last ice age corresponding to the Heinrich events observed in the North Atlantic ocean as well as Dansgaard-Oschgar events seen in the Greenland Ice cores. The Last Glacial Maximum was ranged between 30, 000 years ago to 19, 000 years ago and ended by the rapid disintegration of the ice volume that corresponding to decrease of the ca. 10 m of ice-volume equivalent sea-level. Gradual sea-level rise was seen during the late glacial stage, except the time known as melt-water pulse la in the Barbados coral, but other catastrophic rises were not found in the records. Main phase of deglaciation was ended until ca. 7000 years ago, yet slight decrease in ice volume equivalent to the 3 m global sea-level has been occurred since then. Sea-level change namely global ice volume fluctuations had been played as major role for human migration from Africa to the other parts of the world during the last ice age. Therefore studies on coastline changes will provide an useful information for the research on spatial and temporal histories of past human life styles.
Thermal climate changes from the Last Glacial through to the present on the coastal area of Hokuriku region, Japan, along the Japan Sea were quantitatively reconstructed using the pollen profile from Lake Mikata (Fukui Prefecture, central Japan) sediment core, Japanese surface pollen dataset, and Japanese meteorological dataset. The best-modern-analogues method firstly proposed by Guiot (1990) and recently revised/improved by Nakagawa et al. (2002) was adopted to infer climate indices from fossil pollen data. The change in seasonality is especially highlighted in this paper. Our results show that the seasonality (summer to winter temperature anomaly) during the Last Glacial was about 3 e bigger than the present. This may reflect that, given that the sea level during the Last Glacial was much lower than the present, the heat transport to the Japan Sea by the Tsushima current was not active and the coastal area along the Japan Sea was more efficiently cooled down by the winter monsoon.