The origin of humanity has always been a controversial topic as various theories attempt to explain it. Some of these theories are the human evolution, creation theory, anthropogenic and the multiregional beginning of modern humans. Anthropology as a study has been good sized in the determination of the origin and improvement of human beings through evolution. The initial thought of human origin and society is already reflected in historic mythologies. Officially there are two basic theories of human origin: The religious theory, which stipulates that God created all people and the universe, and Darwin’s theory that suggests that humans descended from monkeys. According to the introduction theory, the Christianity states that the first man God created Adam from the dust, and the first woman Eve was made of a rib of Adam. However, even in ancient philosophy, the idea of a human’s natural origin is mentioned (Yau, Croft & Harper, 2012: p. 365).
There are quite some hypotheses in anthropology. It is difficult to determine the point at which biogenesis was replaced by anthropogenesis, for a long time biological and social factors operated in parallel. Despite numerous archaeological and paleontological data, the anthropogenesis picture is still incomplete. Many intermediate links between humans and ancient apes remain unknown. Complexities also arise because the anthropogenesis process did not have a linear character. The evolution not only of human species, but all living creatures occurs by the gradual emergence of lateral branches. Many of these branches almost immediately disappear, others are taken to the side, and only one line ultimately leads to the appearance of a rational man (Yau, Croft & Harper, 2012: p. 365).
The Homo erectus was also referred to as the “Upright man” and existed between 100,000 and 1.6 million years ago. There are however other sources that indicate the species of hominid lived between 35,000 and 1.8 million years ago. A Dutchman Eugene Dubois search for missing links in Indonesia for quite a while before finally discovering the fossils of a skull that he believed belong to the upright man in 1891. His theories were backed up by a series of fossils similar to the one he found in Indonesia were unearthed in China in 1920 and 1930 (Cordaux & Batzer, 2009). Currently, this finding together with other specimens of this type from the same region is considered to belong to the species of Homo erectus and is renamed Homo Erectus Pekinensis. During the 1930s, fossil specimens of the same general type and the Java Island were found. Two other important finds, on the island of Java, specifically belonging to Homo Erectus, are the very large jaws of the Meganthropus Paleojavanicus and a young specimen of the Pithecanthropus Modjokertensis (Pratt, 2004).
Physical features of the Homo erectus
The body size of the Homo erectus is also referred to as the specimen by the Chinese. It is much shorter than that of the human species. Also, the structure of the Homo erectus and that of human beings are quite similar.
Its brain capacity was, however, note to be more developed and bigger than that of the earlier species bearing an average of 1050 cubic centimeters.
The Homo erectus had a large face and a nose that was broad and flat. Its forehead was sloppy, and it had a massive brow ridge.
The skull was quite different from that found in human beings as it was thicker, broader and had sharp angles, particularly at the rear. Also, the bones of the skull formed a ridge at the center of the top of the skull known as a keel.
The jaws were large and thick and did not have a pointed chin. The molar teeth, on the other hand, had larger and longer roots which were, however, progressing towards the Normal hum size.
The limbs of Homo erectus were similar to the modern man in many ways. However, they were thicker than that of humans which indicated how physically demanding they were. They also had upright postures that gave them the name “Upright man” unlike other earlier species as that walked o all four limbs.
Homo erectus made and used stone tools. The oldest tools used by these species were found in China and were dated to about 1million years ago. These tools were made from advanced technology and composed of flakes and choppers. With time, the Homo erectus was able to improve these tools by making them smaller and sharper (Yau, Croft & Harper, 2012: p. 365). Also, more complex bifacial tools were found in China and resembled those used by Homo heidelbergensis in Eurasia. Most of the tools used by the Homo erectus were discovered in Western Asia with just a few in eastern Asia, Africa, and Europe.
Burnt stones and animal bones indicated that the Homo erectus hunted for game and invented fire. The evidence of fire is found in Asia as well as Africa. The fire was believed to be used by the Homo erectus for various reasons such as cooking of food, making weapons, as a means of communication as well as scared of wild animals away from their caves at night. During the cold weather, the fire was also used to heat up their caves where they resided. The evidence of fire is estimated to be 500,000 years old. There is, however, no clear indication that the Homo erectus indeed invented the fire (Arendt, 2013).
Environment and diet
During the period of the occupation of Zhoukoudian, China underwent various climatic changes. One of these changes was a three glacial period characterized by intense cold with adverse winter temperatures. Therefore there was intense cooling and drying during this period that led to the expansion of open habitats composed of mixed steppes and grasslands. The grassland favored the existence of grazing animals that provided the platform for Homo erectus to hunt. Java had a much warmer climate. The remains of meals indicated that the Homo erectus consumed large amounts of meat and plant food as supplements (Lee and Pearlt, 2010).
The name homo antecessors originated from a fossil that was found at the Spanish cave site in 1977. The fossil was dated to 780000 years ago and was the oldest hominid in Europe that has been confirmed so far. The parts of the antecessors are primitive especially the parts of the skull such as teeth, brow ridges and the forehead. The mid-facial area was however very modern. There has been conflicting views and debates as to the position of the antecessors with other scientist claiming that it belongs to other categories of species. This argument and conflicting views come from the fact that its category is based on the juvenile specimen found in Spain.
.Many scientists express doubt in the validity of intercessor, because its definition is based on a juvenile specimen, and feel it may belong to another species. ((Lee and Pearlt, 2010)
The Denisovans man
Denisovans man was a fossil sub species of ancient people, fragments of who were found in the Denisovans cave in the Altai Mountains in Russia (Wenz, 2014). There was a significant difference between the DNA of this species and all other ones, up to Homo sapiens. Denisovans man lagged behind the modern humans two times further than the Neanderthals. This species is considered as a late Archanthropus, which is similar to a Heidelberg man. There was some “exchange of genes” between them. Denisovans were the second hominid to get extinct after the Neanderthals. However, the evidence of the existence of the Denisovans was found in the remains that detailed and confirmed its unique mitochondrial and genetic materials. This was the first incident where the remains of a fossil were isolated based on their genetic composition. In the Melanesian genome, about 5% of common genes with a read nuclear genome of the Denisovans man was found. Also, the general genes and Neanderthals in modern humans ranged from 1% to 4% in different populations (“Neanderthal DNA has a subtle but significant impact on human traits,” 2016). Neanderthals’ influence on the genes of the most of the inhabitants of Europe and Pakistan was significant. it was imposieble to rule out that the unique languages of the Papuans of New Guinea were also connected to the legacy of the Denisovans.
The Denisovans man got extinct over 41,000 years ago.
Neanderthals appeared not later than 150 thousand years ago, and their various types lived up to 40,000 years ago, marked by the undoubted presence of well-formed Homo Sapiens. This epoch corresponded to the advance in Europe of the Wurm glaciations. Other scientists have linked the origin of the modern human with Neanderthal man, pointing to the fact that the morphological structure of the face and skull were too primitive to be able to become evolved to the forms of Homo sapiens (Human Evolution, 2002). Neanderthals are as tall, hairy people on bent legs, with a jutting on his head on a short neck (Hackett and Dennell, 2003, 3). Paintings and reconstructions in clay usually emphasize their embarrassment and unjustified primitiveness. Such image of the Neanderthal man is a big distortion. First of all, it is unknown if the Neanderthals were woolen or not. Second, of all, they were all completely erect. As for the evidence of an inclined position of the body, it is likely that they were obtained in the studies of individuals with arthritis (Read, 2012).
The first finds of Neanderthals were made about 150 years ago. In 1856, in Germany, excavations of the skull and parts of the skeleton of some interesting creature were discovered (“Neanderthals”). At that time the work of Charles Darwin had not yet been published, and scientists did not believe in the existence of man’s fossil ancestors. The well-known pathologist Rudolf Virchow declared this finding as for the skeleton of an old man who, as a child, suffered from rickets. Nowadays more than 200 locations of the remains of Neanderthals are known on the territory of modern England, Belgium, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy among other countries (Lovejoy, 2009). Most of the Neanderthals were of medium height and powerful physique. Physically they surpassed modern man in almost all respects. They completely mastered the straight path, and in this sense were no different from the modern people. They had well-developed hands, but it was somewhat wider and shorter than that of modern man, and, apparently, not so clever. The size of the Neanderthal brain ranged from 1300 to 1600 cm3, but the brain structure remained largely primitive (Jurmain et al., 2016, 266). In particular, Neanderthals had poorly developed frontal lobes, responsible for logical thinking and inhibition processes. It can, therefore, be assumed that these creatures were extremely excitable with characteristic aggressive behaviors. Many archaic features were preserved in the structure of the bones of the skull. It was characterized by a low sloping forehead, massive cushion, weakly expressed chin protrusion. Apparently, the Neanderthals did not possess a developed form of speech (Comas, Coscolla, Luo, Borell & Mall, 2013: p. 1176).
Culture and lifestyle
The tools of the first Neanderthals differed from the ones that their predecessors had. In a while, new more complex forms of stone tools appeared. These tools were made into flints, but their shapes became much more diverse with time as the manufacturing technique improved. The main preparation of the tool was a flake that was obtained by splitting off nucleus. There are three main division of the stone tools (Comas, Coscolla, Luo, Borell & Mall, 2013: p. 1176).
These were the choppers, the scrappers, and hand cutters. The Neanderthal man lived in caves and hunted for game. Archaeological evidence indicates that Mammoths were the most commonly hunted animals by Neanderthal man. The remains of Mammoths were found in Siberia and Alaska in the permafrost layer. The permafrost layer preserved the remains of the mammoth thereby giving the researchers an opportunity to determine the types of food that the mammoths ate by the remains of their stomach. The same was the case with the remains of the Neanderthal man. The remains were analyzed, and the food they ate was determined. Apart from mammoths, the Neanderthal man also hunted for buffalos, reindeer, and horses. These animals provide food, skin for clothing and beddings as well as bones that were used for hunting. Mammoths were not found in south Asia and Africa. However, most of the animals found in this region were rhinoceros, elephants, and gazelles (Comas, Coscolla, Luo, Borell & Mall, 2013: p. 1176).
This is an extinct species of the gene homo that has the characteristic of both Homo sapiens and Homo erectus and was believed to have lived in south Asia, Europe, and Africa. Its brain case was large with a cranial volume of 1250cc. The anatomy of Homo heidelbergensis was noted to be more primitive than that of the Neanderthal man except with a round arch and the teeth set were more complete.
Lifestyle and culture
There was a recent discovery in Spain of 28 skeletons in a pit in Atapuerca that indicted the homo Heidelberg Ensis Buried their dead. Evidence also points out that they may be the first species to bury their dead. There were also remains of animals which indicated that they were hunters. They also supplemented the meat with fruits and roots.
The Homo heidelbergensis got extinct about 28,000 years ago.
Homo habilis (2.1-1.5 Million Years Ago)
Homo habilis are mostly referred to the ancestors of humans, the modified the stone tools by making them sharper and lighter. They also switched from the carnivorous way of life and began feeding on fruits and roots. The homo habilis had a better and well-developed brain and skull as compared to the earlier species. Its brain capacity was 1225 cubic centimeters. The lateral walls of the skull of Homo Habilis were almost vertical and relatively high. The frontal bone seemed closer to the back, but it was convex to a greater extent than that of Australopithecines. The occipital bone was high, rounded, and its relief was very weak. Homo Habilis did not have any occipital crests characteristic of Australopithecus. The occipital foramen was elongated, displaced forward on the base of the skull, which indicated a straight path. The facial skeleton of Homo Habilis was more progressive than the earlier species. The horizontal flattening of the face was weak in most cases, and the nasal area protruded forward, while the cheekbones were shifted backward. Like Australopithecus, its geographical distribution was limited to Africa.
Lifestyle and culture
They lived in caves and used fire to protect them from the wild animal at night. They were omnivorous as they hunted for meat and gathered fruits, vegetables, and roots. The fire was also used for cooking as well as warming their bodies at night. The homo habilis had advanced stone tools that were used or hunting such as flakes.
The Oldowan tools were among the tools used by the homo hablis; these tools had a bigger handle and a sharp end that gave them a chisel like a shape. Apart from this, the homo habits also made handaxe that were used for hunting. These axes had short handles and wide, sharp edges. The tools were made from stones and sharpened through precision by use of other stones. Apart from stone tools, the homo habilis is believed to have made other wooden tools that perished. This belief is based on the evidence of the massive number of tools that the homo habilis made (Schwartz & Tattersall, 2010: p.94).
Apart from the Oldowan tools, the homo habilis also made improvements on their tools and were known as the Acheulian tools. These tools were a modification of the Oldowan tools as they were made sharper and lighter.
The homo habilis inhibited the warm savanna grassland in African and other warmer regions in Asia. This is due to the availability of wild animals as they dependent majorly on hunting game.
The Homo habilis got extinct 1.5 million years ago.
Homo Ergaster were the first hominids that dispersed beyond Africa as several of its remains were found in Georgia. The skull of homo ergaster was low and massive; the frontal bones were slightly curved while the bones of the arch were thick. Its arches were also powerful and protruded while the postorbital constriction was strongly pronounced. The occipital bone was strongly refracted, and there was a powerful rounded occipital cushion. The brain area of the skull was relatively small, and the facial section was large, high, with a massive upper jaw protruding forward. The lower jaw was heavy and large. The face was much flattened. There was a tendency towards a relative increase in anterior teeth, and a decrease in the posterior teeth. The postcranial skeleton as a whole was close to the skeleton of a modern human. The brain volume was approximately 800 to 900 cm3, for some specimens it was less than 700 cm3. The life cycle of Homo Ergaster was not the same as that the one that modern humans have: they developed quickly and matured early, but they got fully formed by the age of 12.
The size and proportions of the body of the Homo Ergaster were close to the ones of the modern people. It is assumed that male individuals reached a height of 1, 85-1, 89 meters, and a weight of 68-70 kilograms. The body shape was rather slender and similar to that of some modern African tribes. A hypothesis has been put forward that such physique was formed to provide a more efficient cooling of the body in a hot climate courtesy of the significant ratio of the body surface to the volume. Homo Ergaster could be distinguished from Homo Erectus by thinner bones of the skull and the absence of a foramen. This species differs from Homo Heidelbergensis with thinner bones and a lower forehead. No archaeological evidence of the use of symbolic thinking by Homo Ergaster was found. Nonetheless, a well-developed brain and the configuration of the speech apparatus suggested some forms of verbal and symbolic communication.
Homo Floresiensis was an extinct species of dwarf men because they had a very short height hence the name “Hobbit.” The remains of a Homo floresiensis were found on the island of Flores in Indonesia in a cave known as Liang Bua. The cave contained several other fossils which were date back to 13,000 to 95000 years ago. Apart from having a short height of approximately 1 meter, the Homo floresiensis had a small brain of about 400 cubic centimeters. This brain capacity was indeed smaller as it can be compared to that of the modern chimpanzee and three times smaller than that of modern humans. In spite of the small brain capacity, the Homo Floresiensis displayed a high level of intelligence in the formation and use of stone tools as well as the making of fire.
Additionally, many scientists agree with the idea that the “hobbit” became a descendant of the Pithecanthropus, which inhabited Southeast Asia. As a descendant of the Pithecanthropus, who was engaged in the manufacture of tools made of stone and probably knew how to obtain and maintain fire; Homo Floresiensis took over these abilities, but greatly decreased in height. Such a strong decrease in height is associated with insular isolation of this species for millennia of life on a small island; the subspecies of a right-bred person became much lower than their ancestors.
A holotype of the species was the first best-preserved specimen. This is almost a full skeleton of a mature female (approximately 30 years old) 1 meter and 6 centimeters. For the second relatively well-preserved specimen, the height was estimated at 1 meter and 9 centimeters by the tibial bones, since this specimen does not have thigh bones. The body weight that was close to the chimpanzee’s one was about16-29 kg. Additionally, such features as the absence of a chin, small bending of the bones of the hands and the thickness of the bones of the legs were noticed. The forearm was rotated to 120° relatives to the elbow joint. The modern men have the angle of rotation of 145-165 degrees approximately. Insufficient bending, which could interfere with the process of making tools was redeemed by a shorter and inverted collarbone that gave the impression of a shrug.
The skull of a Floresiensis man served as a receptacle for an extremely small brain volume. The volume of the cranial cavity was 417 cm³, which was much inferior not only to the cranium of a modern man, but also to the cranium of a straight-browed man, for whom the brain size was from 800 to 1250 cubic centimeters. This volume was comparable to the volume of known casts of the cavity of the skull of Australopithecines, ranging from 427 to 545 cm3 (Cordaux & Batzer, 2009: p. 691). Other morphological characteristics of the human skull of the Floresiensis man, when considered in combination, sharply distinguished it from both the typical skull of the modern man and the skull of Australopithecus, while showing some similar characteristics with the skulls of Homo sapiens. Some characteristics of the Floresiensis’ brain related it to the brains of the Homo erectus, while others compared it to the brain of the modern man. It’s brain also featured some features that have no analogs among other primates. Some of these features were the extremely developed temporal lobes. In a modern man, this part of the brain was for the identification of objects and persons responsible in particular. Another distinguishing feature was the two powerful convolutions in the 10th Boardman field, which potentially indicated a well-developed imagination and the ability to abstract thinking and planning (Autrum, Bennet, Diehn, Hamdorf & Menzel, 2012).
Homo sapiens s the species in which modern man is categorized in. The term was applied by Carolus Linnaeus who is also referred to as the father of modern biological classifications. There have been significant differences between various fossils that were discovered which were more closely related to modern humans in physical appearances and characters. These fossils also showed a distinct difference between them and the papers. These fossils were therefore categorized as Homo sapiens. In the evolution theory, Homo sapiens is at the top of the chart as the most developed species with a well-developed brain with verbal communication skills as well as social characters. Homo sapiens are about 140-190 cm tall and weighed between 50-100 kg. Its brain volume is the largest at about 1000-1850 cm3 (Aiello 2010: p.167).
Homo sapiens also characterized by reduced hair on the body as compared to the earliest species. The muscular and the skeletal have a unique adaptation courtesy of the bipedal means of locomotion such as reduced capability of the foot to grasp. Other modifications include the ability to learn such as winning. There is also diversity in the pigmentation of the skin depending on the environment in which they live (Allott 2012).
Homo sapiens are omnivorous by nature. The early Homo sapiens depended on hunting and gathering for their nutrition. The plant’s parts gathered were mostly fruits and roots. The hunted in packs and used tools such as axes, spears and sharpened bones (Tomasello, 2010).
Culture and lifestyle
The Homo sapiens used fire for cooking and protection from wild animals at night. The fire was also used to warm them during the cold season. Due to the developed nature of speech in Homo sapiens, they were able to communicate and developed social structures such as settlements, marriage, burial of the dead as well as coordinated hunting and gathering. There was division of labor based on both age and gender. The Homo sapiens also improvised their shelter by moving out of caves and creation of temporary shelter made from the branches of trees and leaves. They also adopted the art of burial of their dead as recognition of the significance of human life. There were a formal recognition of marriage by the Homo sapiens and placed high significance to it. They made beddings and clothing are from animal skins and developed a leadership structure (Aiello 2010: p.167).
The Homo sapiens made more advanced tools from stones, wood, animal’s bones as well as metals. The domestication of animals was also begun with the Homo sapiens. They saw the need to keep animals for the sake of food security as well as supplementation of the hunting and gathering (Berger, De Ruiter, Churchil, Schmid, Carlson & Dirks, 2010: p. 200).
It can, therefore, be deduced that the origin of was attributed to the evolution of ape-like man through Homo erectus to Homo sapiens. The evolution was characterized by the progressive advancement of capabilities in feature such as brain capacity, development of tools and development of shelter and fire. All these innovations were systematic and progress and took millions of years. The most significant features, however, was the upright postures that begun with the Homo erectus. The brain capacity also improved leading to various innovations in tool formation as well as diet supplementation until the Homo sapiens ability to communicate verbally and to settle down in communities.
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(Foley & Levin, 2013)