Chapter 1: Becoming Human


Terms in this set (...)

Process by which the different species of the world - its plants and animals - made changes in response to their environment that enabled them to survive and increase in numbers.

Biological evolution does not imply progress to higher and more exalted forms of life, only adaption to environmental surroundings.
Modern Humans
Term that refers to members of the Homo Sapiens subspecies that evolved about 200,000 years ago.
Early Hominids and Adaptation
Subspecies of gorillas that became modern-day humans only after following a long and complicated evolutionary process.
At what stage did the hominids appear? What traits distinguished them from other animals?
1. Lifting the torso and walking on two legs.

2. Controlling and then making fire.

3. Fashioning and using tools.

4. Developing cognitive skills and an enlarged brain and therefore the capacity for language.

5. Acquiring a consciousness of "self."
"Southern Ape of Africa" or Australpithecus Africanus

Had a brain capacity of approx. one pint.
Different from other animals and walked on two legs.
Only about 5 ft tall and weighed at most 110 pounds.
Were hunted, not hunters.
Developed into more than six species.

NOT HUMANS. They carried the genetic and biological material out of which modern humans would later emerge.

Key trait for evolutionary survival: Remarkably good adapters. They could deal with dynamic environmental shifts, and they were intelligent.
A group of animals or plants possessing one or more distinctive characteristics
Survival required constant adaptation.

To survive, Hominids had to adapt and evolve to their environments altered. During the first million years of hominid existence, involved far more physical adaptations than cultural transformations.

The ability to alter behavior and to innovate, finding new ways of doing things.
The single trait that gave hominids a real advantage for survival. They became "two-footed" creatures that stood upright.

They were the only primates to move consistently on two legs. Because they could move continuously and over great distances, they were able to migrate out of hostile environments and into more hospitable locations as needed.
Cognitive Skills
Being locomotive did more than augment the means of survival for creatures whose environments were changing. It also increased their options for subsistence and led to acquisition of cognitive skills.

This involved thoughts, memory, problem-solving, and ultimately language.

Cognition itself became the basis for further development.

Hands eventually made the first tools. Ex. spear or digging stick.
2nd advantage: Opposable Thumbs
In addition to being bipedal, hominids had another trait that helped them survive and create/use tools - opposable thumbs.

Gave hominids great physical dexterity, enhancing their ability to explore and to alter materials found in nature.

Manual dexterity and standing upright also enable them to carry young family members if needed to relocate.

They could throw missiles (rocks, sticks, etc.) to protect themselves and also obtain food.
Further development of Hominids.
Through observation and memory, began to gather food.

Early hominids were highly social. Usually about 25 members. Tried to survive by hunting small game and gathering wild plants.

Still no match for larger predators and had to find safe hiding places.

Communicated through gestures, but began to develop an early form of spoken language.

Gradually altered in appearance. Their brains doubled in size, foreheads became elongated, jaws became less massive, and took on more of a modern look.
The First Humans: Homo Habilis
"True human"

Were also bipedal, but had an advantage over other hominids: large brains.
Learning and storing lessons so that humans could pass those lessons on later generations, especially in the making of tools and efficient use of resources.
Homo Habilis
"Skillful Man"

Passed knowledge of tool-making to their offspring and in the process, gradually improving tools.

Their tool-making ability made them the forerunners of modern men and women.
Homo erectus
"Standing Man"

Had a large brain capacity and truly stood upright.

Two main features that distinguished them from their competitors:
1. Being bipedal. They could walk smooth and quickly therefore coning large distances.

First mobile human communities.

2. Made attempts to control environment. Not only could they make stone tools for hunting and food preparation, they began to control FIRE!

Fire provided heat, protection, gathering point for small communities, and a way to cook. They could now expand their diets and potential food base. Also enabled early humans to survive in colder regions.
A response in part to the environmental changes.

Northern Hemisphere experienced thirty major cold phases during period marked by glaciers that were vast.

Homo erectus individuals migrated first into the lands of Southwest Asia. From there, they traveled along the Indian Ocean shoreline, moving into South Asia and Southeast Asia and later northward into what is now China.
Was Homo sapiens a linear progression?
No, scientist view our origins as shaped by a series of progressions and regressions as hominids adapted or failed to adapt and went extinct.

Although homo habilis and homo erectus were among some of the world's first humanlike inhabitants, probably not direct ancestors of modern man and woman.


The existence of Homo erectus may have been necessary for the evolution into Homo sapiens it was not sufficient.
The First Modern Humans
Homo Sapiens
"Intelligent Humans"

Created culture and language, which enable humans to become modern humans.

Better suited to survive- in part because of their greater cognitive and language skills.

Approx. 100,000 years ago, migrated over the whole globe.

Approx. 25,000 years ago, as DNA analysis reveal, all genetic cousins to Homo sapiens were extinct, leaving only modern humans' ancestors to populate the world.

Made evolutionary breakthrough, they developed cultural forms that reflected a consciousness of self, a drive to survive, appreciation of beauty, and an ability to engage dynamically with their environments.
Hunting and Gathering
By 1500 CE, 15 percent of the world's population still lived by hunting and gathering.

Hunter and gatherers could find enough food in about 3 hours of foraging each day. Therefore, affording time for other pursuits such as relaxation, interaction, and friendly competition with other members of their bands.

Speculate that men specialized in hunting and women specialized in gathering and child rearing, but both contributed equally to the bands' welfare.

Scholars also believed women made a larger contribution and had high status because dietary staples were cereals and fruits, whose harvesting and preparation were likely their responsibility.
Art and Language
Ability to draw allowed to understand their environment, to bong among their kin groups, and to articulate important mythologies.

Subject most often was large game. Considered powerful symbols.

Statuettes such as Venus of Wilendorf (Chauvet Cave, France) demonstrate that successful reproduction was a important theme.
The use of sounds to make words that convey meaning to others.

Verbal communication thus required an ability to think abstractly and to communicate abstractions.
The Beginnings of Food Production
About 12,000 years ago a fundamental change occurred in human behavior, which was the revolution of agriculture.

The transformation consisted of the cultivation of wild grasses and cereals.
The bringing under human control of wild animals.
Regions part of Agriculture revolution
Independent centers:
Southwest Asia
East Asia
Southeast Asia
Northeastern America

East Africa
Inland West Africa
Southeastern Europe
South America
Early Domestication of Plants and Animals
Settled agriculture, the application of human labor and tools to a fixed plot of land for more than one growing cycle entails the changeover from a hunting and gathering lifestyle to one based on agriculture, which requires staying one place until the soil has been exhausted.
Domestication of Animals
Dog were first animal domesticated around 12,000 years ago in present day Iraq.

Dogs with herding instincts aided humans in controlling sheep once they had been domesticated.

Wild sheep and goats were next to be under human control.

Controlling animal reproduction was more reliable than hunting. Domestic herds became the primary source of protein in early diet.

Pigs and cattle were next under human control.
The herding of domesticated animals.

Important subsistence strategy that complemented settled farming.

Animals were moved to new pastures on a seasonal basis.
Southwest Asia
First agriculture revolution occurred here due to the presence of many valuable plants and animals.