Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Understanding the evolutionary history of our species is a key objective of paleoanthropology, yet the pattern of hominin evolution in East Asia remains uncertain. This research aimed to evaluate the relationships and evolutionary history of East Asian hominin paleodemes through the Pleistocene. Recent descriptions of Pleistocene East Asian hominins reveal a high degree of morphological variability, mosaics of primitive and derived traits, regionally predominant characteristics, and late surviving archaic morphologies. This study tests two hypotheses explaining the complexity of the East Asian hominin record: 1) Continuity with Hybridization, and 2) the existence of Multiple Hominin Lineages. These models were tested using Maximum Parsimony and Bayesian phylogenetic analyses to examine evolutionary relationships and identify distinct hominin lineages. The results indicate that it’s likely that two separate hominin lineages persisted in East Asia through the Middle Pleistocene. These lineages are comprised of East Asian archaic hominins, informally considered Homo sp. The Chinese hominins from Xujiayao are part of one lineage, which may be closely related to, or part of, the Neanderthal lineage. The other lineage is comprised of all other Chinese Homo sp. included in this study, with the exception of the Maba/Tongzi/Panxian Dadong paleodeme which may be part of either lineage. Through analyzing the phylogenetic relationships of paleodemes in East Asia, Southeast Asia, Central and Western Eurasia, and Africa, further revelations were made about taxonomy of hominin paleodemes outside of East Asia, including hominin populations in Sima de los Huesos, the Omo-Turkana Basin region, Jebel Irhoud, and China. Finally, this study has highlighted the importance and utility of using paleodemes as OTUs in hominin evolutionary analyses. Although there are various ways to define hominin paleodemes, the methods introduced here took both time, climate, and geographic location into consideration, as those parameters can have real effects on population cohesion, migrations, and extinctions. Moving forward, paleodemes should be constructed using deliberate parameters rather than arbitrary guidelines.
Chair and Committee
David S. Strait
Kari Allen, Carrie Mongle, Thomas C. Prang, Richard J. Smith,
Mclean, Catherine, "Evolutionary History of Populations of Pleistocene Homo with a Focus on East Asia" (2023). Arts & Sciences Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2891.
Available for download on Friday, April 25, 2025