10. Origin and Evolution of Human Postcranial Anatomy

  1. David R. Begun
  1. Brian G. Richmond and
  2. Kevin G. Hatala

Published Online: 14 JAN 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118332344.ch10

A Companion to Paleoanthropology

A Companion to Paleoanthropology

How to Cite

Richmond, B. G. and Hatala, K. G. (2013) Origin and Evolution of Human Postcranial Anatomy, in A Companion to Paleoanthropology (ed D. R. Begun), Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford. doi: 10.1002/9781118332344.ch10

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 JAN 2013
  2. Published Print: 25 FEB 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444331165

Online ISBN: 9781118332344



  • hominins;
  • hominoids;
  • human fossil record;
  • human postcranial anatomy;
  • last common ancestor (LCA)


Major discoveries of the ape and human fossil record provided the first clear evidence of the anatomy of extinct ape and human ancestors and relatives in the middle of the 20th century. The current fossil record provides a picture that is beginning to take shape about the kinds of ancestors from which humans evolved. However, gaps in the fossil record still leave unanswered some of the most important questions about our origins and evolution. This chapter reviews the main scenarios about the origin of body form in hominoids (= ape and human) and hominins (= species more closely related to modern humans than to any other living species), and what the evidence from the fossil record suggests about the evolution of the postcranial skeleton of apes and humans.