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Chapter 14

BIOLOGY 1M03 Chapter 14: Chapter 14 - Homo Sapiens and the Evolution of Modern Human Behaviour

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Ben Evans

Chapter 14: Homo Sapiens and the Evolution of Modern Human Behaviour Modern Homo sapiens  Modern humans are characterized by several derived morphological traits, including a small face and teeth, a pointed chin, a high rounded cranium and a less robust postcranium. o Smaller face and teeth were favoured by natural selection because these people didn’t use their teeth as tools as much as earlier people had. o Less robust cranium possibly because they relied less on body strength and more on elaborate tools to do their work. Archaeological Evidence for Modern Human Behaviour  Archaeological evidence indicates that modern humans in Europe were able to accumulate adaptive and symbolic behaviour in the same way as we do today. o The increased sophistication of modern humans partly due to the cognitive abilities and our ability to pass on such behaviour over successive generations. ▪ Happens from watching and being instructed by others so we can acquire information. o Archaeological record indicates that H. sapiens were the first to achieve this complex behaviour: ▪ Ecological range- they were able to occupy cold, dry habitats further north and east than other hominins. ▪ Technology- the range of tools were more sophisticated and were made from a greater variety of materials, not just stone (e.g. antler, ivory, bone); also constructed elaborate shelters. ▪ Social organization- raw materials were gathered from a distant source which suggests they had long-distance exchange networks. ▪ Symbolic expression- they created art, performed rituals and other symbolic behaviour. o The tool industries created by H. sapiens are called the Upper Paleolithic industries.  Modern humans first entered Australia around 40 kya and they brought along their tools that are similar to those of the Upper Paleolithic people in Europe. o To get to island land mass that included Australia, humans would need to cross a 100 km stretch of ocean → so people who first settled on these islands must have been able to build boats (sophisticated form of technology).  More sophisticated stone tools appeared in Asia at around the same time.  There is controversy over what was happening in Africa between 60 and 30 kya. o Fossil record during this period is sparse so some argue whether modern human behaviour did evolve in Africa.  Upper Paleolithic Technology and Culture o Upper Paleolithic people made use of blades which made efficient use of stone resources. ▪ Tool kits that emphasize blades are considered Mode 4 technologies. o The Upper Paleolithic tool kits contained a large number of distinctive, standardized tool types (chisels, points, knives, burins, drills, throwing sticks, etc). ▪ Since the tool shapes are standardized, it suggests that the humans carried out these plans in their minds with a mental model. ▪ They were also the first to shape tools out of bones, antler, and teeth. o Upper Paleolithic industries also varied in time and space. ▪ Over approximately 25,00 years of the Upper Paleolithic there were dozens of distinctive tool kits of Mode 4 technology, contrasting the Acheulean tool kit that remained unchanged for over 1 million years. o Stone and other raw materials were often transported hundreds of km away from their origin. ▪ May mean that Upper Paleolithic people ranged over long distances and they participated in long-distance trade networks. o Modern humans exploited a wider variety of prey species than the Neanderthals but the subsistence economies of the 2 populations were similar. ▪ Large herbivores played an important role in diets of the Upper Paleolithic people. ▪ They also fished, hunted birds, gone for salmon runs. o The people of the Upper Paleolithic developed more complex forms of shelter and clothing than the Neanderthals had. ▪ Shelters were made by interlocking mammoth bones to form the structure, and then covered with hides. ▪ Fur coats, caps, shirts, pants, shoes lavishly decorated by beads were found. o Upper Paleolithic peoples were able to cope with the environment better than the Neanderthals. ▪ Upper Paleolithic people lived in higher population densities than the Neaderthals. ▪ Upper Paleolithic people lived longer than the Neanderthals. • They could retain and transmit more complex knowledge than the Neanderthals. ▪ Upper Paleolithic peoples were less likely to suffer from serious injuries or disease than the Neanderthals. o There is good evidence for ritual burials during the Upper Paleolithic period. o Upper Paleolithic peoples were skilled artisans, creating sculptures of animals and humans and creating elaborate cave paintings. ▪ This was the distinctive characteristic from other hominins. The Origin and Spread of Modern Humans  New evidence indicates that the genes that gave rise to the modern human morphology evolved from an African population. o People carrying these genes spread and differentiated into a number of morphologically modern but genetically varied populations.  Genetic Data o Contemporary patterns of genetic variation, particularly in genes found in mitochondria, provide information about the origin of modern humans. ▪ 3 properties of mitochondrias make it useful to determine the evolutionary history of humans: • Mitochondrial genes are inherited maternally. • Since mitochondrial genes accumulat
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