Ethnology Linguistics problems that have to be solved, but it should be remembered that inter-, multi-, and transdisciplinarity is a learning process and an everlasting challenge for science (Mittelstraß 1989; Drilling 1992; Eggert 1995; Porr 1998; Henke 2006).
The last half-century has witnessed a dramatic improvement in our understanding of the process of human evolution, due to new approaches and techniques as well as a tremendous increase in the fossil record (Andrews and Franzen 1984; Franzen 1994; Henke and Rothe 1994; Ullrich 1995, 1999; Johanson and Edgar 1996; Hartwig 2002; Schwartz and Tattersall 2002, 2003). Profound knowledge of the relationship between form and function has come from innovations in mechanical engineering, light microscopy and REM, 2D- and 3D-tomography as well as from multivariate statistics (Grupe and Peters 2003; Zollikofer and Ponce de Leon 2005). Furthermore, evolutionary and developmental morphology (Mingh-Purvis and McNamara 2002) and physiology (Martin 1990) has contributed to a better understanding of form-function complexes (Ciochon and Corruccini 1984; Oxnard 1984; Aiello and Dean 1990; Anapol et al. 2004; Ross and Kay 2004). Hennig's Phylogenetic Systematics (Hennig 1966, 1982, 1984), which was first published in German in 1950 without gaining much attention (Hennig 1950), revolutionized phylogenetic discussion in concert with tremendously increased skills in taxonomy and computer techniques (Rieppel 1999; Waegele 2000; Wiesemuller et al. 2003).
With the improvement of absolute dating techniques (e.g., radiocarbon and other isotopic calibrations) and in relative dating by faunal complexes, the chronological pattern of human evolution was more precisely observed, and it became seen through the application of "molecular clocks'' that the branching of the hominin line coincided with the aridification of the East African Rift Valley (Bishop and Miller 1972; Howell 1978; Magori et al. 1996; Bromage and Schrenk 1999).
The more that research on human evolution concentrated on the African continent, the more successful those paleoanthropologists with a licence to dig became, especially as they extended their campaigns to Miocene as well as to Plio-and Pleistocene strata. Leakey's luck (Cole 1975; Isaac and McCown 1976) at Olduvai Gorge—which had been discovered by the German neurologist Wilhelm Kattwinkel in 1911 (Glowatzki 1979) and was successfully explored for the first time in 1913 by Reck (1925), as well as that of his family members in Koobi Fora and diverse other East African sites—has resulted from tremendous efforts (Leakey and Leakey 1978; Grine 1988; Wood 1991; Tobias 1991; Walker and Leakey 1993). Beside the activities of the Leakey family, there should be mentioned the successful expeditions of Francis Clark Howell in Omo, Glynn Isaac in Olorgesailie, and of course the famous Afar Research Expedition (Johanson and Edey 1980; Johanson and Edgar 1996). Finally, the Hominid Corridor Research Project of Timothy Bromage and Friedemann Schrenk in Malawi (Bromage and Schrenk 1999) must be alluded to as well as the activities of Brigitte Senut and Michael Pickford in Tansania (Pickford and Senut 2001) and Brunet et al. (2002) in Chad. Africa has become the "Mecca" of paleoanthropol-ogists. There is little doubt now that Africa was the "cradle of mankind,'' just as Darwin proposed.
In spite of the fact that the "fossil hunting'' has mostly been done in Africa, there are many activities in other parts of the Old World allowing us to learn more about the pattern of hominid migration and development. Exciting new fossils and findings from, e.g., Atapuerca (Spain) (Arsuaga et al. 1999), Apidima (Greece) (Pitsios 1999), Ceprano (Italy) (Ascenzi et al. 2000), Schoningen (Thieme 1996), Dmanisi (Georgia) (Brauer et al. 1995; Henke et al. 1995; Gabunia et al. 1999, 2002; Vekua et al. 2002) and many non-European sites (Delson 1985; Rightmire 1990; Franzen 1994; Johanson and Edgar 1996; Delson et al. 2000; Brunet et al. 2002; Schwartz and Tattersall 2003), and the astonishing fossils from Flores (Indonesia) (Brown et al. 2004) demonstrate that paleoan-thropology is a field of research with never-ending surprises and new perspectives. No doubt, the half-life of our theoretical models is very short, but there has undoubtedly been enormous progress. Beside the paleontological fieldwork, which has also produced valuable data for the reconstruction of the ecological niches of our ancestors (Bromage and Schrenk 1999), the research field of primatology has became increasingly important for anthropological modeling (Martin 1990; MacPhee 1993; Fleagle 1999; Groves 2001). The paradigm of behavioral ecology and sociobiology has shaped our hypotheses on food choice, foraging patterns and food detection, as well as on food sharing and intra- and intergroup relations. Studies on the evolution of social behavioral systems, kin selection, intersexual and intrasexual selection, cognitive abilities, tool using and tool making, Machiavellian strategies, competition, coalitions and alliances, that is on the total complexity of social systems in primates, especially in apes, have become essential for paleoanthropological modeling (Henke and Rothe 2003; Henke 2003a; Rothe and Henke 2005). Beside the primatological field studies, which have given us a totally new view on the cultural capabilities of nonhuman primates, there is much to learn about our brains and the development of language from all kinds of laboratory research [e.g., molecular biology: O'Rourke et al. (2000), Enard (2005), psychobiology: Tomasello (1999)].
Still, the "old questions'' in paleoanthropology (v. Koenigswald 1958) remain unsolved and valid. One hundred and fifty years after the excavation of the name-giving fossils from the Neander Valley, near Düsseldorf in Germany, the "role of the Neanderthals'' is the subject of intense discussion (Spencer 1984; Stringer and Gamble 1993; Henke and Rothe 1994, 1999b; Tattersall 1995; Krings et al. 1997; Wolpoff 1999; Relethford 2001; Finlayson 2004). Also debated are the Out of Africa models (Brauer 1984; Brauer and Smith 1992; Wolpoff 1999; Relethford 2001; Finlayson 2004). Maybe the humorous definition "humans are animals who wonder intensively and endlessly about their origin'' is the most appropriate one for our species. We are in an age of tremendous progress in paleoanthropo-logical research and knowledge, which hopefully is evident in the contributions of this handbook.
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