The first specimen of Aethiopicus Hominin was discovered by French archeologists Yves Coppens and Camille Arambourg in southern Ethiopia. This specimen was given the name Omo 18 in 1967. Omo 18 is the predecessor to the Alan Walker’s discovery, KNM-WT 17000 (black skull). Walker discovered black skull in 1985 in the Northern region of Kenya. The alias name black skull arose from the high manganese levels in the bones. Black skull was concluded as an early example of hominids with robust Pliocene qualities. A key feature describing Aethiopicus Hominin is the distinct v-shape of its jaw line compared to other Hominins (Rubalcaba, 24). Even though the first Aethiopicus Hominin discovery was Omo 18, majority of paleoanthropologists were skeptical on this basis saying that it was not viable enough to differentiate it from other hominins. However, once, black skull was discovered, this distinct characteristic was re-classified.
Ultimately, there has been significant debate regarding the exact origin of Aethiopicus Hominin. It is prudent to note that this hominin shares similar features to other hominins such as the mandible and cranium. This perhaps suggests a common development in evolution due to similar environmental circumstances despite different geographical distribution. However, discoveries of this hominin revealed certain features that can be used to differentiate it from its counterparts. These include a large zygomatic arch, a face that it is more prognathic, and an extended ramus.
Anthropologists made the suggestion that Aethiopicus Hominin lived in the period between 2.5 and 2.7 million years ago meaning that it existed in the Pliocene era. Carbon dating was the dating technique used to establish the era in which Aethiopicus Hominin lived. However, not much information can be gathered from this species since the source of information was only limited to a jaw and Black skull. This material was insufficient to make conclusions regarding how far in height they grew, but anthropologists suggest that they might have been similar in height with Australopithecus afarensis. Anthropologists consider Aethiopicus Homininis a megadont archaic species meaning that it exhibits large post canine crowns of the teeth (Lacruz, Dean, Rozzi, and Bromage, 81).
All the information regarding Aethiopicus Homininis is only derived from skull remains since no postcranial (skeleton parts) were retrieved. However, several teeth and a maxilla were found, but the most informative fossil in this regard is the black skull. The features of the skull include a forward protruding face and a small cranial capacity. The size of the cranial capacity suggested that Aethiopicus Homininis was less intelligent than the closely related Australopithecus afarensis (Rubalcaba, 41). Additionally, due to the low mental capacity, Aethiopicus Homininis was not able to comprehend establishing cultural or spiritual practices
. The size and shape (morphology) of the joint between the cranium and lower mandible were found to be similar to those of Australopithecus afarensis. The saggital crest at the top of the skull was also found to be similar to that of Australopithecus afarensis. Putting this into consideration, it is prudent to understand that the traits of Aethiopicus Hominin are in a way similar to those of Australopithecus afarensis thus giving rise to the notion that the two may be direct descendants. This particular species is considered a branch of the hominid evolutionary tree.
From what anthropologists were able to gather, Aethiopicus Hominin is thought to have thrived in an environment of mixed with woodland and savanna. This particular environment is characterized by grass covering and interspersed trees. Primarily, these open canopied habitat ranges between forests and grasslands. Generally, one should understand that moisture availability favors the increase of complexity and density of the vegetation. Diminished rain or moisture leads to desertification. Increase in rainfall leads to the development of a rainforest environment. However, intermediate amounts of rainfall lead to the formation of savannahs, grasslands, and other forest types. Hence, since Aethiopicus Hominin is thought to have thrived in an environment of mixed with woodland and savanna, we can infer that its habitat was characterized by intermediate amounts of rainfall (Bobe, Alemseged, and Behrensmeyer, 39).
While hominins existing later than Aethiopicus Hominin are known to have used tools and engaged in hunting and gathering practices, anthropologists share a common belief that Aethiopicus Hominin lived on a vegetarian diet. Since Aethiopicus Hominin had a small brain, we can infer that it lacked the sense to engage in activities such as hunting. Furthermore, the saggital crests at the top of the skull, where the jaw muscles attach, imply that it chewed a lot when it ate. Furthermore, the large teeth indicate that the primary diet of Aethiopicus Hominin was that of a vegetarian. Course, fibrous vegetation mainly made up a substantial part of its diet similar to the diet of other heavily built Australopithecines (Rubalcaba, 103).
Similar to gorillas today, Aethiopicus Hominins spent most of their time eating stalks, barks, and leaves as well as some grains and seeds, in addition to insects and fruit. While the diet in the paleo ear seeks to reproduce and reclaim a distant Stone Age diet, modern consumption of seeds and cereal grains may be a rediscovery of a pre-historic nature. This particular diet predates agriculture as well as dates back to the period before proto-humans began using any kinds of tools. Through this school of thought, the predominance of seeds and cereal grains in today’s diet should according to be considered an advocate of Paleolithic diet.
Anthropologists have established that all australopithecines had a characteristic feature of anatomical spinal column, femur, and pelvis that supported bipedal locomotion. Whether or not australopithecines had already adapted to bipedal locomotion is still a literal debate. Adaptations for bipedal locomotion are determined by the crucial skeletal shape. This includes a wide pelvis for supporting the internal organs. This arrangement supports lateral positioning of hip muscles with regard to the legs hence facilitating balance when standing on the feet. Additionally, how the femur and pelvis articulate should allow movement for bipedal locomotion. Furthermore, the tibia plays a pivotal role for the shifting weight in bipedal locomotion (Ash, and Robinson 76). An investigation on all australopithecines proves that their skeletal structure satisfies the conditions above, hence concluding that they are bipedal. In this regard, since Aethiopicus Hominins falls into this category, then we have reason to believe that its locomotion was bipedal.
In conclusion, this paper has been able to provide a detailed overview on the extinct hominid species, Aethiopicus Hominins. Ultimately, even though the fossil evidence suggesting the existence of this species is limited, we can be able to infer several fundamental details regarding this species. Details such as diet, locomotion, skeletal structure, cranial capacity, and basic activities can be established by studying the time and environment this species existed. Ultimately, data acquired from this basis can be used to establish valid conclusions regarding Aethiopicus Hominins.
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Rubalcaba, Jill, Susan M. Sherman, Brian G. Walker, and Peter Robertshaw. Every Bone Tells a Story: Hominin Discoveries, Deductions, and Debates. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 2010. Print.