The Evolution of Man

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The Evolution of Man

The evolution of man is an area of study that will never fully be understood, however, evidence has been accumulated to allow us to paste together a picture of what happened in the beginning of time. It allows us to gather an idea of how man progressed to exist in the state in which we see him now. We can see that the evolution of man was directly influenced by his environment. Man’s intellectual development directly effected the physical changes that we see. It is apparent through observation that the environmental changes also induced some of the physical changes that man underwent. These environmental changes and seemingly intellectual development slowly refined man’s behavior, as well as his way of life. We also can see how man develops along with the changes in sophistication of the tools he used. We can observe that the progression of the tools coincide directly with the progression of the evolution of man. As the technology, as simple as it was, slowly became more advanced, we see how the

apparent effect that it has on early man’s development and how those advances made, effected the actions and behavior of man. It is essentially those changes in behavior and lifestyle which lead to man’s evolution. In this paper, I will include some of my observations of the physical development of man from ancient human-like animals to modern day man.

At the American Museum of Natural History I observed the exhibit of Lucy. Lucy was found in Hadar Ethiopia and is the name given to a fossil skeleton of a hominid who lived over 3.2 million years ago. Lucy stands as the most complete skeleton known of an early human predecessor. She is known to be part of the bipedal primate know as Australopithecus afarensis. Lucy was expected to be twenty-five years old and roughly four feet tall. What we know about Australopithecus afarensis is that they walked upright and were able to climb trees. Australopithecus afarensis, like Lucy, had small skulls, small brain cases, projecting faces, large chewing teeth and looked ape-like. Looking at Lucy, my tour guide pointed out her primitive limb proportions. Although she did walk upright on two legs, her legs were very short, adopted to climbing, indicating that she may have taken shelter in the trees at night. We can also observe that Lucy

had very long hands. The proportion of her hands...

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... that they now had the ability to use animal skins to keep them warm. Also, with the skins covering their bodies, their skin became lighter because of less exposure to the sun.

The progression and evolution of man seems quite evident. We have seen that it is most heavily influenced by both environmental and technological factors. The environmental factors and changes pushed the early human relatives towards a different way of living by changing their things like their diet.

However, the technological factors are essentially what allowed the early humans to develop further and give him the ability to make clothes and shelter, as well as move past his vegetarian diet. All of these were factors which induced a change in mans physical appearance and increased his cognitive ability. They are all changes which were mandatory for man to have become what he is now. The fascinating fossils and

skeletons that we have now are able to tell us so much of mans evolutionary history but leaves many questions unanswered. I found the exhibits at the museum not only interesting, but allowed me to have a more concrete idea of what early man looked like and the way in which he lived.
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