AN01a_Ch01: Beginning of Civilization- The Peopling of the World (Human Origins)
Timeline: Prehistory – ~2500 BCE
FQ: How did we become Human (Homo Sapien)?
Archaeological and anthropological investigations throughout the 20th C. have contributed to the creation of a prehistoric scenario in which modern man is the product of a multi-millennial evolutionary process. The fossil record has surrendered physical evidence of major stages in the development of modern man.
However, there are other fields that provide a story of Man’s origins that does not exclusively rely on the evidence gathered by archaeologists, anthropologists, and others. For thousands of years, myths have been passed from generation to generation that explain ‘How’ and ‘Why’ humans exist as well as the divine that drives ‘creation’.
I. Vocabulary (refer to Crossword Puzzle Pu01a)
Famous family of archaeologists and anthropologists (20th C.- East Africa). Credited with fossil discoveries adding to our knowledge Man’s evolutionary development. (1)
II. Theory of Human Evolution
Humans, like other creatures in nature, evolved from simpler into more complex organisms over geologic time. Those creatures best suited (adapted) to the environment were favored via Natural Selection.
III. Physical Evidence (From the Fossil Record at Excavation sites)
A. Evolutionary Bond between Modern Man & Modern Apes.
1. Use of Technology
2. Social + Physical Similarities
3. Genetic Composition.
B. Major Evolutionary Stages (2)
1. Australopithecus afarensis (3.6 mil. BP, ‘Lucy’)
2. Homo Habilis (2.5 mil. BP, Skillful Man)
3. Homo Erectus (1.6 mill. BP, Erect Man) (3)
4. Homo Neanderthalensis ( ~400k BP to ~40k BP, Neanderthal Man) (4)
5. Homo Sapien (~200k BP, Thinking Man) (5)
C. Significant Anatomical Changes in Evolutionary Stages
D. What happened to these Pre-Humans? (These remain theories only)
1. Lost out to a better adapted competitor
a. Environmental Pressures: The Ice Age (Glacial Period) ~50,000 BP – ~18,000 BP. (6)
The advancing ice sheets (glaciers) alter the Earth’s landscape and reflect the cooling of the planet’s atmosphere. Animal life is abundant but plant life in the higher latitudes is vastly diminished. Surely, hominids that have inhabited the higher latitudes, since Homo Erectus ventured out of the African continent, would be expending great energy to survive in these conditions. This and previous periods of glaciation may have contributed to the demise of earlier hominids via natural selection.
b. Technology: The development of tools like the Atlatl may have given Homo Sapien an advantage over Homo Neanderthalensis in the ‘game’ of survival.
2. Hybridization: Interbreeding among Homo Sapiens and Homo Neanderthalensis.
IV. Creation Myths
1. Mesopotamian (Epic of Gilgamesh, Sumer)
2. Ancient Egypt (Atum the Creator)
3. Greek and Roman (Zeus imposes order on chaos./ Cura’s creation of Man from clay.) (7)
1. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
2. Noah’s floods
– Article: ‘Siberian Fossils were Neanderthal’s Eastern Cousins’
– PBS: NOVA
– Vestigial Structures. A TED Ed lesson at http://ed.ted.com/featured/ypjumUC3
– Exploration, a podcast hosted by Dr. Michio Kaku and accessed on Stitcher Smart Radio. Interview of Dr.s Ettelman and Calvin on the topic of the Human Brain, accessed Oct. 2011. Interview of Dr. Spencer Wells on the origins of the human species, accessed 22 April 2012.
– Archaeological Institute of America (website)
– Additional reading on subject of Pre-humans
– Article: All Non-Africans Part Neanderthal, Genetics Confirm.
– Assorted myths from Hebrew, Hindu, and Native American cultures.
– Slide Presentation (Pr01a) from course website.
(1) http://www.pantheon.org/articles/m/mythology.html (http://www.pantheon.org/articles/m/mythology.html) Oct. 2011
(2) Parenthetical dates appearing here indicates approximate time of appearance in the fossil record.
(3) Tamed fire and first to leave the African continent.
(4) Lived during the Ice Age. Archaeological sites show evidence of ritual burials. Often called ‘Neanderthal’ referring to the Neander valley where the first fossils were found. Though some textbooks may still refers to the hominid as “Homo Sapien” , the science community has dropped the ‘Sapien’ suffix and substituted “Neanderthalensis”. This is in light of evidence indicating it didn’t contribute to human evolution. African fossils are lacking and mtDNA analysis suggest no genetic lineage to modern humans.
(5) Modern Man, often called Cro-Magnon in reference to the nearby town where the first fossils were first found, may have come in contact & competed with Homo Neanderthalensis. More recent (than that in your textbook) research grants the Homo Sapien designation to modern man. The Homo Sapien-Sapien designation is no longer accepted.
(6) http://www.esd.ornl.gov/projects/qen/nerc130k.html (http://www.esd.ornl.gov/projects/qen/nerc130k.html)
(7) Every myth, Greek or otherwise, that has ever been told or written, varies in the telling. The basic themes are repeated in many of them, but details, even story lines will differ considerably, from village to village, eon to eon. When one understands that the myths have been told for many centuries before being written down, which first occurred about 800 BCE, one can relish the differences in the tellings and enjoy the Greek’s brilliant and artful imagination throughout the ages. http://www.pantheon.org/articles/g/ greekcreationmyths.html