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Chapter 14

BIOLOGY 1M03 Chapter Notes - Chapter 14: Upper Paleolithic, Postcrania, Acheulean

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Jon Stone

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Chapter 14: Homo Sapiens and the Evolution of Modern Human
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.
oSmaller face and teeth were favoured by natural selection because these
people didn’t use their teeth as tools as much as earlier people had.
oLess 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.
oThe increased sophistication of modern humans partly due to the cognitive
abilities and our ability to pass on such behaviour over successive
Happens from watching and being instructed by others so we can
acquire information.
oArchaeological 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.
oThe tool industries created by H. sapiens are called the Upper Paleolithic
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.
oTo 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
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.
oFossil record during this period is sparse so some argue whether modern
human behaviour did evolve in Africa.
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Upper Paleolithic Technology and Culture
oUpper Paleolithic people made use of blades which made efficient use of
stone resources.
Tool kits that emphasize blades are considered Mode 4
oThe 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
oUpper 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
oStone 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.
oModern humans exploited a wider variety of prey species than the
Neanderthals but the subsistence economies of the 2 populations were
Large herbivores played an important role in diets of the Upper
Paleolithic people.
They also fished, hunted birds, gone for salmon runs.
oThe 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.
oUpper 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.
oThere is good evidence for ritual burials during the Upper Paleolithic
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