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Chapter 8

ANTA01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 8: High Tech, Side-Scan Sonar, Dual Inheritance Theory

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Genevieve Dewar

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Chapter 8: Understanding the Past: Archaeological and
Paleoanthropological Methods
Hominin: A member of the tribe Hominini, the evolutionary group that includes modern humans
and now extinct bipedal relatives.
Biocultural Evolution: The Human Capacity for Culture
One of the most distinctive behavioural features of humans is our extraordinary elaboration and
dependence on culture. Human culture, in its defined contemporary contexts, involves much
more than toolmaking. For humans, culture is a fundamental adaptive strategy involving
cognitive, political, social, and economic components, as well as technology.
The fundamental basis for human cultural success relates directly to cognitive abilities. Humans
display complex language capabilities and only humans are dependent on symbolic
By at least 5 mya and even 7 mya, hominins had developed one crucial advantage. They were
bipedal and could therefore much more easily carry all manner of objects from place to place.
The earliest members of the lineage we call protohominins (5-7 mya)
Did not regularly manufacture stone tools.
May have carried naturally sharp stones or flakes, parts of carcasses and pieces of wood
around their home range.
Many components (cognitive, political, social, technological and economic components)
interacted but did not develop simultaneously.
As cognitive abilities developed, more efficient means of communication and learning resulted.
Because of neurological organization, more elaborate tools and social relationships emerged.
This which in turn, selected for further neural elaboration. Clearly, these mutual dynamic
interactions are at the heart of what is called hominin biocultural evolution.
Defined as the overall study of fossil hominins.
As such, it is a diverse multidisciplinary pursuit seeking to reconstruct every possible bit of
information concerning dating, structure, behaviour, and ecology of our human ancestors.
Viewed as a body of methods designed to understand the human past through the study of its
material remains.
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