The Elements of Evolution (61-16) Homo heidelbergensis

Homo heidelbergensis

H. heidelbergensis (600–200 TYA) was more technologically savvy than H. antecessor. They made better tools, which were used for hunting and food preparation.

Whether H. antecessor and H. heidelbergensis (0.6–0.2 MYA) were the same or distinct species is still debated, though H. heidelbergensis is generally considered a separate species. Both descended from H. ergaster.

H. heidelbergensis had an extensive habitat: ranging from southern Africa to northern Europe and into Asia. It may have been the first hominin to gain a permanent foothold in Europe, though it was not the first to try.

H. heidelbergensis was tall: males averaged 1.75 me-ters and were more muscular than modern men.

Their jaw was well-built for chewing, albeit with smaller molars than earlier hominins. This was a trend toward more modern humans.

Some discovered skeletons show evidence of disease and healed injuries. Life was doubtlessly difficult in Pleistocene Europe. The majority of H. heidelbergensis fossils found have been of teenagers. H. heidelbergensis may have been the first hominin to bury its dead.

Taking advantage of good weather, H. heidelbergensis spread from Africa into Europe by 700 TYA, placing progeny that would spawn the Neanderthals. Later, the Cro-Magnon who came to Europe some 45 TYA interbred with the natives. Both were the issue of H. heidelbergensis.

Darwin hypothesized that all human races descended from a single species (monogenesis). Instead, humans descended from multiple species. As a breed, human beings are mutts.