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Chapter 3

Chapter 3

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University of Guelph
ANTH 1150

Chapter 3- The Beginnings of Human Culture - In the course of evolution, humans came to rely increasingly on learned behaviour as an extremely effective way to adapt to the environment - Humans became increasingly committed to culture as a vehicle for solving the problems they confronted - Humans do not adapt to the environment, they attempt to mould and manipulate it to suit the needs and desires they themselves define Humans and the Other Primates - Primate Order – the group of mammals that includes lemurs, lorises, tarsiers, monkeys, apes, and humans - Humans did not start out as humans - By studying the environment of those times, the anatomical features that evolved in the context of that environment, and the rudimentary cultural adaptations, we may draw closer to an understanding of how and why humans developed as they did Evolution through Adaptation - Adaptation – a process organisms undergo to achieve a beneficial adjustment to an available environment and the results of that process - Natural selection favours not just the survival of well-adapted individuals but also the propagation of their genetic traits - By chance the ancestral primates possessed certain characteristics that allowed them to adapt to life in the forests - Tree-dwelling primates had to develop both flexible behaviour and virtually automatic mechanism for moving through the trees - Natural selection favoured those who judged depth correctly and gripped the branches tightly Anatomical Adaptation - Primate Dentition: o The diet available to arboreal primates required unspecialized teeth compared to those found in other mammals o Mammals ancestral to the primates possessed 3 incisors, 1 canine, 4 premolars and 3 molars on each side of the jaw for a total of 44 teeth o The evolutionary trend for primate dentition generally has been toward economy, with fewer smaller teeth doing more work o Some of the teeth over time began to disappear and other changed shape o The functions of grasping, cutting, and grinding were served by different kinds of teeth - Sense Organs: o To mammals living on the ground, sense of smell is really important (enables them to work at night as well as to see what it out of sight— food, predators, etc.) o Up in the trees, primates are out of the way of predators, and good vision is a better guide than smell for judging correctly where the next branch is o The sense of smell for these primates decreased while the sense of sight increased o Stereoscopic colour vision – the ability to see the world in 3 dimension of height, width, and depth and requires 2 eyes next to each other so the plane of vision overlaps o This kind of vision has led to increased brain size and greater complexity at nerve connections o Early mammals from which primates evolved possessed tiny hairs that gave them extremely sensitive tactile capacities o In primates these hairs were replaced by sensitive pads backed by nails - The Primate Brain: o The cerebral hemispheres (areas of conscious thought) have grown dramatically and in humans, monkeys, and apes it completely covers the cerebellum (coordinates muscles and maintains body equilibrium) o The main reason for this change is the arboreal existence of these primates o The cortex had to develop to receive, analyze, and coordinate these impressions and transmit the appropriate responses back down to the motor nerves to the proper receptors - The Primate Skeleton: o The opening of the skull through which the spinal cord passes and connects to the brain is an important clue to evolutionary relationships o In primates this opening usually is shifted forward toward the centre of the skull’s base so that it faces downward o This enables the backbone to join the skull at the centre of its base allowing the head to balance on the vertebral column as oppose to projecting forward o The snout/muzzle part of the skull was reduced in primates as the sense of smell declined o There is a solid wall of bone surrounded the eyes to provide greater protection o The clavicle allows for the arms to be placed at the side of the body rather than the front o Opposable thumbs allow food, branches and other objects to be handled easily Adaptation through Behaviour - Learned social behaviour plays an important role in adaptation - Chimpanzees are most closely related to humans - Chimpanzee Behaviour: o They are social animals but are rarely found hanging out in huge groups o They are usually found by themselves or with their families o When travelling, subgroups come together to help forage together but eventually they split up and members are often exchanged o Relationships between individuals in the community are usually harmonious, there are dominance hierarchies where some animals outrank others and dominate other o Grooming is a common pastime. It is hygienic and it is a gesture of friendliness, submission, appeasement, and closeness o There is no fixed breeding season with chimps o Sexual activity only occurs during the period each month where the female is fertile and can be initiated by either the male or the female o Females usually are not sexually receptive when impregnated until their offspring are about 4 years of age o Not all offspring are fathered by dominant males o The mother-infant bond is strong for the first 5 years and a close association continues after that o If the female decides to leave the group, she takes her young children with her o Chimps are born without built-in responses that dictate its behaviour in complex situations, the young chimps learn how to interact with others and even learn to manipulate them for their own benefit o Chimps are good at making tools and using them Human Ancestors - Chimpanzees and gorillas are out closest living relatives - At the genetic level, humans and chimps are 98% identical The First Hominins - Hominin – a tribe of Hominoid primates to which all human species, including those that are extinct, are assigned - The first hominins are represented by fossils from East Africa that go back 6 million to 4.4 million years called Ardipithecus. o Much smaller than a chimp o It walked upright on 2 feet - Sahelanthropus tchadenisis dates 7 million to 6 million years ago o Small brain case like and ape but canines are small and face is humanlike - Orrorin tungenesis is about 6 million years old o Molars are similar to Australopithecus but it is unknown if it was biped - Australopithecus was around 4.2 million years ago and the most recent one is about 1 million years old o Structure and size of teeth are more similar to those of modern people o Their jaws are similar to those of early Hom
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