Essay on Human Evolution

Essay on Human Evolution

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Human Evolution

Human Evolution, the biological and cultural development of the species Homo
sapiens, or human beings. A large number of fossil bones and teeth have been
found at various places throughout Africa, Europe, and Asia. Tools of stone,
bone, and wood, as well as fire hearths, campsites, and burials, also have been
discovered and excavated. As a result of these discoveries, a picture of human
evolution during the past 4 to 5 million years has emerged.

Human Physical Traits Humans are classified in the mammalian order Primates;
within this order, humans, along with our extinct close ancestors, and our
nearest living relatives, the African apes, are sometimes placed together in the
family Hominidae because of genetic similarities, although classification
systems more commonly still place great apes in a separate family, Pongidae. If
the single grouping, Hominidae, is used, the separate human line in the hominid
family is distinguished by being placed in a subfamily, Homininae, whose members
are then called hominines—the practice that is followed in this article. An
examination of the fossil record of the hominines reveals several biological and
behavioral trends characteristic of the hominine subfamily.

Bipedalism Two-legged walking, or bipedalism, seems to be one of the earliest of
the major hominine characteristics to have evolved. This form of locomotion led
to a number of skeletal modifications in the lower spinal column, pelvis, and
legs. Because these changes can be documented in fossil bone, bipedalism usually
is seen as the defining trait of the subfamily Homininae.

Brain Size and Body Size Much of the human ability to make and use tools and
other objects stems from the large size and complexity of the human brain. Most
modern humans have a braincase volume of between 1300 and 1500 cc (between 79.3
and 91.5 cu in). In the course of human evolution the size of the brain has more
than tripled. The increase in brain size may be related to changes in hominine
behavior. Over time, stone tools and other artifacts became increasingly
numerous and sophisticated. Archaeological sites, too, show more intense
occupation in later phases of human biological history. In addition, the
geographic areas occupied by our ancestors expanded during the course of human
evolution. Earliest known from eastern and southern Afri...

... middle of paper ...

...racterized the earlier stages of human history, some innovations did take
place. In addition to the first appearance of the great cave art of France and
Spain See CAVE DWELLERS, some anthropologists have argued that it was during
this time that human language originated, a development that would have had
profound implications for all aspects of human activity. About 10,000 years ago,
one of the most important events in human history took place—plants were
domesticated, and soon after, animals as well. This agricultural revolution set
the stage for the events in human history that eventually led to civilization.
Modern understanding of human evolution rests on known fossils, but the picture
is far from complete. Only future fossil discoveries will enable scientists to
fill many of the blanks in the present picture of human evolution. Employing
sophisticated technological devices as well as the accumulated knowledge of the
patterns of geological deposition, anthropologists are now able to pinpoint the
most promising locations for fossil hunting more accurately. In the years ahead
this will result in an enormous increase in the understanding of human
biological history.

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