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Lecture 2

MMW 11 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Human Taxonomy, Homo Sapiens, Homo Habilis

Making of the Modern World
Course Code
MMW 11
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MMW 11 – Lecture 2 – Evolution
Universe goes back 15 billion years
Earth 4.5 billion years ago
Earliest life forms 3.3 billion years ago
Cultural differences go back 20,000 years
3 Big Ideas
All Africans, all migrants out of Africa, all part of human race
as civilization grows, there are gains and losses
History written by the victors
Evolution Defined
Evolution: process by which the different species of the world, its plants and animals,
make changes in response to their environment that enable them to survive and
increase in numbers
Humans are a part of this evolutionary change, stretching from microscopic bacteria, to
African apes (2.5 million years ago), to homo sapiens
oWe are homo sapiens sapiens
Everything contains carbon 14 which decays into carbon 12
oRate of decay is regular, measurable
Can tell age of fossils up to 40,000 years ago
Potassium argon testing
oAge of non-living objects up to a million years ago
oNuclear DNA
oMitochondrial DNA
Genetic evolution of human beings can be tracked through mitochondrial
Goes back to Africa
Pollen analysis
oLook at tree bark
oSea coast
We are descended from apes
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Separates from African ape family 6-7 million years ago
Eastern and southern Africa hospitable climates for diverse plant and animal species 10-
15 million years ago
oWhen climate change, evolution to keep track of it
Ice age
Adapted to new environments
oForests turned into grasslands, apes came down from the trees to survive,
started to walk on 2 legs
Precursors to human beings
oFound skeleton in Ethiopia (Lucy)
3ft tall
ape sized brain
more human-like jaw and teeth
could walk on 2 legs, but probably also on 4
lived in bands of 25
moves into places with wild grains, food, wildlife
create alliances to make larger groups
oup to 500
3 million years
obrains doubled in size
oforeheads grew longer
ojaws got less massive
most hominid groups/families did not survive
oones that were successful passed on more human-like traits
lifting torso to walk on 2 legs
carrying things
throw weapons at animals
gradually started making fires
gradually started making things with hands
developed cognitive skills
othought, memory, problem-solving, language
brains get bigger
build capacity for language
scan horizon
migrate out of hostile environment
ogo into better locations for their survival
face freed up for speaking, gesture
opeople look each other in the eye
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