Human Evolution: Early Radiations


Fossil evidence suggests that African ancestors exclusively ancestral to modern humans (such as the genera Ardipithecus, Australopithecus and Paranthropus) had emerged by at least 4.5 million years ago, and subsequently diversified. Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis are adaptively and cladistically closer to this early hominin radiation than they are to later Homo taxa.

Keywords: hominins; australopithecus; ardipithecus; paranthropus

Figure 1.

Summary of the distinguishing features of the best‐known early hominin species. Adapted from Wood BA (1992). In: Bunney S, Jones S, Martin RD and Pilbeam D (eds) The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution, pp. 231–240. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.



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Further Reading

Ciochon RL and Fleagle JG (1993) The Human Evolution Source Book. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice‐Hall.

Grine FE (1988) Evolutionary History of the ‘Robust’ Australopithecines. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

Tattersall I (1998) Becoming Human: Evolution and Human Uniqueness. New York: Harcourt Brace.

Tobias PV (1991) Olduvai Gorge, vol. 4: The Skulls, Endocasts and Teeth of Homo habilis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wood BA (1991) Koobi Fora Research Project, vol. 4: Hominid Cranial Remains. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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Wood, Bernard A(May 2001) Human Evolution: Early Radiations. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001648]