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Lecture

Anthropology 1026F/G Lecture Notes - Homo, Carl Linnaeus, James Ussher


Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANTH 1026F/G
Professor
Alexis Dolphin

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Anthropology Lecture 2: Evolution
Western Worldviews on Nature:
- Paradigm: a conceptual framework
how theories are developed
Middle Ages in Europe:
- Antiquity of Earth – earth was not thought to be very old
- Fixity of Species – species did not change into anything else
- Great Chain of Being – hierarchy of species (some low, some higher, noble and
close to heaven)
- James Ussher – famous for attempting to calculate the age of the earth by going
through the Old Testament and looking at sons and going back through
generations (eg. roughly 25 years per generation and going back)
4004 BC
- One creation event – when all plants and animals were created by God – have not
changed since that time
Enlightenment:
- 17th to 19th century
- Social, political, economic, scientific revolutions
- Thoughts: where have we been, where are we going, where are we now
- Colonial expansions – seeing new people, animals, plants, environmental contexts
seeing diversity
- Note: not just western societies that thought of these ideas other people that
discovered natural selection (before Darwin) but it is about development in
Western society)
- *non-western ideas about evolution (paper)
Carolus Linnaeus (1707 – 1778):
- Binomial nomenclature – genus and species name
Genus may include multiple species – physically have something in
common, but the different species would not reproduce with each other
Homo (genus) sapiens (species) – were the last species surviving of the
genus Homo
- Developed hierarchical order: every species has a place
- 1st taxonomy: a system for classifying plants and animals
Classify all species from local species to species being found on travels
- Not looking to develop evolutionary theory; however, got people thinking about
connections between organisms related to each other? Why are some similar to
each other?
Geroges Cuvier (1769 – 1832)
- In the mindset of the time
- Established the fact of extinction – found fossils in the ground and wondered why
these animals were not found alive anymore

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If species can go extinct, might some other species arise?
- Catastrophism: changes in the landscape due to periodic catastrophies
Applied to organisms
Multiple creation events there are some organisms alive now that we
don’t see fossils for – so: explanation later on in his career = multiple
creation events
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1774 – 1829)
- Linked environmental change to biological change
- Inheritance of Acquired Characteristics – now known to be false
- New environment = new activities / uses = physical changes
- Traits acquire during the lifetime depending on how the body is used – these
acquired characteristics can then be passed on to offspring
Eg. giraffes
- Did not explain mechanism behind this – just vital forces in animal that were
stimulated to produce changes in the body
Could not logically explain what the mechanism was thus, open to
critique
Charles Lyell (1797 – 1875)
- Uniformitarianism: geological processes observed in the present are the same as
those that occurred in the past
- Thus: great antiquity of the earth takes a long time for these processes to occur
So, breaking down of common ideas
Thomas Malthus (1766 – 1834)
- Populations grow exponentially while resources do not (grow faster than
resources can support them)
Influential for Darwin and Wallace
More animals are born than can survive long-term notion of
competition for survival
Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882)
- Grandfather = famous naturalist who developed some ideas about change and
organisms and what might have caused it
- From wealthy family and exposed to many ideas early in life
- Went on Beagle for 5 years (approx.)
Not looking for a solution to a problem
Went on as a naturalist and aligned with fixity of species and great chain
of being, etc.
However: came to perspective that there is a lot of diversity, came into
contact with some fossils
Noticed some organisms are similar to one another why?
- Wallace came up with idea about natural selection at the same time
- 7 major postulates / ideas of natural selection:
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1) More offspring are produced than can survive competition
2) Individuals within a species vary biologically
3) Individuals with the most beneficial variations (traits) are more likely
to survive and reproduce (*passing on to next generation = key)
4) The environment determines whether a trait is beneficial (sometimes
smaller is better, sometimes bigger is better, etc. note also:
environment is susceptible to change, so a perfectly adapted organism
might not be perfectly adapted within a period of time)
5) Individuals with beneficial traits have greater reproductive success
6) Over geological time, beneficial traits accumulate in a population, and
a new species may appear
7) Selective pressures may lead to selection
Mechanisms of Evolutionary Change by Natural Selection
- A trait must be inherited in order to have importance in natural selection
Importance: what is being passed on to next generation – will this lead to
development of new species
- Natural selection cannot occur without variation in inherited characteristics
Must already have variation in population might not be helpful to
individuals, but as long as a few member of species that have a trait that
will help them survive if some catastrophe happens, then the population
will not be eliminated
- Fitness is a relative measure that will change as the environment changes
Might not work the same if the environment changes
- No mechanism for natural selection could only get so far
How Does Inheritance Work?
- Pre 1800s
blending (identical to father, but as it grows in mother’s womb it blends
mother’s traits with father)
homunculus (baby curled up in sperm = basic template of the person –
once it comes into contact with female body it can fully develop)
- Early 1900s
Gregor Mendel’s particulate inheritance pea plants – knew he had pure
bread tall and short pea plants what happens when you put these
together?
Done in systematic way – had never been done before
- 1953
Watson, Crick, Franklin discover structure of DNA
Bodies and Cells
- Bodies are made up of cells (1000 billion)
- Cells are made of proteins
- Cells have a nucleus (containing genetic code – DNA)
- DNA provides instructions for the development and function of organisms
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