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Lecture 6

Anthropology Week 6 Lecture Notes.docx

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ANTH 1010H
Jocelyn Williams

Anthropology Week 6 Lecture Notes: Modern Human Origins Adaptation to the Natural World - Broad environmental factors only account for a small portion of variability in human behaviour and biology - Examples include temperature, snowfall, rainfall; they only account for a small portion of variability - Local level adaptations o By examining very specific local and regional context we can better understand adaptation o People adapt on a number of levels  Genetic  Social  Religious  Symbolic Settlement and Ecology - People decide where to place their settlements for many different reasons o Practical o Political o Economic o Ideological o Social o Behavioural - Settlement patterns o Part of the analysis of human interactions with, and adaptations to, the natural and social environment o Three levels  Household  Activities and areas associated with a house  Very detailed picture of everyday life and activities  Community  Interaction between households  Distribution of communities  Layout of households  Family compounds  Groups of dwellings  Relationships between and among different communities o Spatial o Temporal  Trade networks, political organization, social networks, subsistence strategies Human Origins - Plio-Pleistocene adaptations - Genus Homo o Homo habilis o Homo ergaster - Homo erectus o Tools, subsistence, fire, dispersal - Many different species appear between 2.5-1.8mya – why? o Pleistocene (2.5mya – 12kya) o Climate change o Glacial cycles became more severe ca. 1.8mya  Glaciations = lower sea levels, reduced temperature, decreased rainfall  Interglacial periods = high waters, increased temperatures, increased rainfall - Australopithecines o 2 forms  Gracile  Small, general body form  Robust  Very large  Specialized dentition - Climate instability = strong selective pressures o Changing environment  Changing resources  Changing diet o Niche specialization  Biological specialization  Reduces flexibility  Decreases ability to adapt  Robust australopithecines are evolutionary dead end o Generalized skeleton is favoured  Rise of modern body form o Increased brain size and complexity is favoured  Technology o Evolution of modern body form  Fully bipedal  No evidence for arborealism  Much taller, close to 6ft  Rib cage is barrel rather than conical  Pelvis is narrower (less primate-like)  Less sexual dimorphism than previous fossils (e.g. habilis) o Bipedalism  Changed the skeleton  Skull – inferiorly placed foramen magnum  Pelvis – wider and shorter o Structural support for upper body o Wider stance for stability  Leg – bi-condylar angle or valgus knee o To move center of gravity back to midline o Asymmetrical knee joint  Medial surface is larger and more elliptical than lateral facet  To straighten out legs  Sacrum – broader and flatter o To widen pelvis o Increased stability for torso  Spine – s-curved spine o Distribute weight to midline o Support upright posture  Foot o Presence of reduced (non-opposable) big toe o Arched foot  Attachment of ligaments between calcaneus and big toe  Shock absorption  Stability Technology
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