We don’t know everything about our early ancestors—but we keep learning more! Paleoanthropologists are constantly in the field, excavating new areas, using groundbreaking technology, and continually filling in some of the gaps about our understanding of human evolution.
Below are some of the still unanswered questions about Homo erectus that may be answered with future discoveries:
1. Was Homo erectus the direct ancestor of Homo sapiens, our own species?
2. Data suggest that increasing body size, greater reliance on animal food resources, and increased range size were part of a web of factors that facilitated the initial early dispersal of H. erectus from Africa. Was one of these factors more important than the others?
3. Are the fossils from earlier time periods in East Africa, and from Georgia, all part of a single species (Homo erectus), regionally variable in size and shape? Or are there actually several species of early human represented by what we are now calling Homo erectus?
4. How well did Homo erectus master the control of fire and how widespread was fire used? What does this say about possible dietary shifts in this species?
5. Did Homo erectus grow up in a more human-like pattern and rate, or a more ape-like one? Was Homo erectus the first early human species to experience an adolescent growth spurt?
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Human Origins Program: http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-fossils/species/homo-erectus
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