Human Evolution in terms of Anthropology

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Anthropology is a science of the beginning and evolution of a human. Anthropogenesis is the evolutionary process of human formation (“Introduction to Human Evolution”, 2017). This science explains the foremost issues of the human origin: the region and time of human appearance, the main levels of its evolution, all driving forces and factors, the ratio of anthropogenesis and so forth. The preliminary idea of ​ human beginning and society is already reflected in historic mythologies. Officially there are two basic theories of human origin: non secular one, according to which God created all people in his image and likeness, and Darwin’s concept that suggests that humans descended from monkeys (Schroeder, 2006). In Christianity it was believed that the first man Adam was created by God from the dust, and the first woman Eve was made of a rib of Adam. However, even in ancient philosophy, the idea of a human’s natural origin is mentioned.
There are a huge number of hypotheses. It is impossible to detect the point at which biogenesis was replaced by anthropogenesis, for a long time biological and social factors operated in parallel. Despite numerous archaeological and paleontological data, the anthropogenesis picture is still incomplete. Many intermediate links between humans and ancient monkeys remain unknown. Complexities also arise because the anthropogenesis process did not have a linear character. The evolution not only of human, but of all living creatures is carried out by the gradual emergence of lateral branches, many of which almost immediately disappear, others are taken to the side, and only one line ultimately leads to the appearance of a rational man.
Denisovan man was a fossil subspecies of ancient people, fragments of who were found in the Denisova cave in the Altai Mountains in Russia (Wenz, 2014). The was a significant difference between the DNA of this species and of all other ones, up to Homo Sapiens. Denisovan man lagged behind the modern humans two times further than the Neanderthals. This species is considered as a late Archanthropus, which is similar to a Heidelberg man. Different types of creatures were not isolated from each other. There was some “exchange of genes” between them. Denisovan men became the second extinct hominins after Neanderthals, for which the full mitochondrial and complete nuclear genomes became known. For the first time a new species of primates was isolated because of genetic studies. In the Melanesian genome, about 5% of common genes with a read nuclear genome of the Denisovan man were found (“Why Am I Denisovan?”). Additionally, the general genes and Neanderthals in modern humans ranged from 1% to 4% in different populations (“Neanderthal DNA has subtle but significant impact on human traits”, 2016). Neanderthals’ influence on the genes of the most of inhabitants of Europe and Pakistan was significant. It could not be ruled out that the unique languages of the Papuans of New Guinea were also connected to the legacy of the Denisovans.
Neanderthals appeared not later than 150 thousand years ago, and their various types flourished up to the period of 40,000 years ago, marked by the undoubted presence of well-formed Homo Sapiens (“Neanderthals”). This epoch corresponded to the advance in Europe of the Wurm glaciation. Other scientists have linked the origin of the modern human with Neanderthal man, pointing on the fact that the morphological structure of the face and skull were too primitive to be able to become evolved to the forms of Homo Sapiens (“Human Evolution”, 2002). Neanderthals are usually considered as tall, hairy people on bent legs, with a jutting his head on a short neck (Hackett and Dennell, 2003, 3). Paintings and reconstructions in clay usually emphasize their embarrassment and unjustified primitiveness. Such image of the Neanderthal man is a big distortion. First of all, it is unknown if the Neanderthals were woolen or not. Second of all, they were all completely erect. As for the evidence of an inclined position of the body, it is likely that they were obtained in the studies of individuals with arthritis.
The first finds of Neanderthals were made about 150 years ago. In 1856, in Germany, excavations of the skull and parts of the skeleton of some interesting creature were discovered (“Neanderthals”). At that time the work of Charles Darwin had not yet been published, and scientists did not believe in the existence of man’s fossil ancestors. The well-known pathologist Rudolf Virchow declared this finding as the skeleton of an old man who, as a child, suffered from rickets. Nowadays more than 200 locations of the remains of Neanderthals are known on the territory of modern England, Belgium, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and other countries, almost everywhere in the world. Most of the Neanderthals were of medium height and powerful physique. Physically they surpassed modern man in almost all respects. They completely mastered the straight path, and in this sense were no different from the modern people. They had well developed hands, but it was somewhat wider and shorter than that of modern man, and, apparently, not so clever. The size of the Neanderthal brain ranged from 1300 to 1600 cm3, but the brain structure remained largely primitive (Jurmain et al., 2016, 266). In particular, Neanderthals had poorly developed frontal lobes, responsible for logical thinking and inhibition processes. That is why it can be assumed that these creatures were extremely excitable, and their behavior was characterized by aggressiveness. Many archaic features were preserved in the structure of the bones of the skull. It was characterized by a low sloping forehead, massive cushion, weakly expressed chin protrusion. Apparently, the Neanderthals did not possess a developed form of speech.
The tools of the first Neanderthals differed from the ones that their predecessors had. In a while new more complex forms of guns appeared, and old ones disappeared. The guns were made of flint, but their shapes became much more diverse, and the manufacturing technique was more complex. The main preparation of the tool was a flake that was obtained by splitting off nucleus. About 60 different types of guns are typical for the Mousterian. Nonetheless, many of them can be reduced to variations of three main types: a chopper, a scraper and a pointed point. The sizes of hand-cutters were 15-20 cm in length, the size of the choppers is about 5-8 cm. Pointed spears are a type of tools with triangular outlines and a point at the end. As usual, people built caves that were mostly small canopies or shallow grottos. However, in this period there were buildings in open spaces.
The main object of hunting for Neanderthals was a mammoth (“The Mammoths Stone Age Abattoir Disovered in East Anglia”). In addition, the remains of these animals were found in Siberia and Alaska in the permafrost layer, they were very well preserved, so that nowadays people have the opportunity to not only see mammoths almost alive, but also find out what they ate, by exploring the contents of the stomach. Neanderthals hunted on buffalo, horses and reindeer (“Neanderthal Hunting Strategies”, 2016). All these animals gave not only meat, but also fat, bones, skin, and provided the person with everything necessary. In the south of Asia and in Africa mammoths were not found, and the main animals were elephants and rhinoceroses, antelopes, gazelles, mountain goats and buffaloes.
The first discovery of Homo Erectus (1.9–0.143 Ma) was the famous Javanese man, previously classified as Pithecanthropus erectus (“Homo Erectus”, 2016). He was found in 1891 by the Danish anatomist Dubois, who predicted that the ancient man should have existed on the island of Java, and, having gone there, brilliantly confirmed his conjecture (“The Discovery of Java Man in 1891”, 2004). Later, at the end of the 1920s, a whole group of fossil remains was discovered in the town in Northern China (Jurmain, Kilgore, Trevathan, 2016, 245). Nowadays this finding together with other specimens of this type from the same region is considered to belong to the species of Homo Erectus and is renamed Homo Erectus Pekinensis. During the 1930s, fossil specimens of the same general type and the Java Island were found. Two other important finds on the island of Java, specifically belonging to Homo Erectus, are the very large jaws of the Meganthropus Paleojavanicus and a young specimen of the Pithecanthropus Modjokertensis (Pratt, 2004). Additionally, Homo Erectus includes two more finds: one, known as Atlanthropus from Ternifin, is made in Algeria, the other one was made in 1962 in Kenya.
One of the most important problems associated with Homo Erectus concerns their culture. There is a clear evidence of their use of weapons. In addition, they seem to have created two different ways of producing them in two different parts of the world. It is also known that, at least in China, Homo Erectus used fire. Other manifestations of culture may be an unnatural feature of all Homo Erectus skulls from China: the base of each skull was punctured, and the brain was deliberately withdrawn. Usually this is interpreted as a sign of cannibalism, but some experts believe that this may mean the existence of a cult of heads, a form of religious worship, including the preservation and worship of skulls.
The brain volume of Homo Erectus is more than that of Homo Habilis and is from 850 cm3 in the earliest specimens, up to 1200 cm3 in the later ones (Space, 2017). The skull is very thick with massive ridges. The height reached 180 cm; the physique was more massive than the modern man. Sexual dimorphism was greater than that of modern man, but much less than in Australopithecines. On average, males were larger than females by 25%. Homo Erectus widely used stone tools. However, initially they were more primitive than the Acheulean tools of Homo Ergaster (“Homo Erectus”, 2016). The products of Acheulean culture outside Africa appeared only about a million years ago. There was an evidence of the use of a straight-brow fire. The earliest ones date back to around 1 million years ago and are located in the Northern Cape of South Africa. Traces of the use of fire, having an age of 690-790 thousand years, are in northern Israel. Additionally, there is evidence on the French Riviera, where it is believed that about 300 thousand years ago Home Erectus lived.
There are opinions, according to which the use of fire has become typical only for later human species. Undoubtedly, the development of stone processing techniques and the mastery of fire have made a human biped one of the most successful species of the genus. Stone weapons made it possible to successfully defend themselves against predators and hunt, the fire warmed and lit, the thermal treatment made animal food better digestible and disinfected it. It is obvious that, along with working people, Homo Erectus became one of the first kinds of them living in hunter-gatherer societies. It is assumed that Homo Erectus was the first hominid that hunted in organized groups. The increase in the size of the brain, the presence of Broca’s area allows people assuming that a straight-bodied person began to use verbal communication. Apparently, it was a primitive proto-language, not having a team complex developed structure of modern languages, but much more perfect than the wordless “language” of a chimpanzee.
The next origin is Homo Habilis. These ones were skilled people that were the first human ancestors, and who began making stone tools and switched to omnivorous creatures. Starting with this species, a rapid growth in the size of human brain began. The skull was pretty similar to the Australopithecines’ one. Nonetheless, it had a more rounded and high arch, and the cerebral cavity had larger dimensions on average. The bone relief of the skull was poorly developed. The lateral walls of the skull of Homo Habilis were almost vertical and relatively high. The frontal bone seemed closer to the back, but it was convex to a greater extent than the Australopithecines’ one. The superciliary arc looked pretty protruding. The occipital bone was high, rounded, and its relief was very weak. Homo Habilis did not have any occipital crests characteristic of Australopithecus. The occipital foramen was elongated, displaced forward on the base of the skull, which indicated a straight path. The facial skeleton of Homo Habilis was more progressive than in Australopithecus. The horizontal flattening of face was weak in most cases and the nasal area protruded forward, while the cheekbones were shifted backward. Like Australopithecus, its geographical distribution was limited to Africa. From the finds outside Africa to Homo Habilis, various scientists referred to the same hominids, who were also referred to Australopithecus. For this reason, the “earliest” Homo Habilis lived only in Africa.
The taxonomic relationships of hominids of that period of time were extremely complicated. Homo Habilis was defined as a late Australopithecus. However, it is obvious that there is the presence of a number of characters approaching later hominids in its morphology. The existence of the taxon of Homo Rudolfensis has been discussed from different points of view. In general, Homo Rudolfensis referred to finds that were synchronous with Homo Habilis, but possessed large dimensions and massiveness (“Homo Rudolfensis”, 2016). Additionally, it was assumed that Homo Rudolfensis possessed a transitional complex of traits from Homo Habilis to Homo Ergaster.
In the interval of 400,000 to 130,000 years ago there were many different populations of hominids on the planet. Those hominids combined a lot of progressive and primitive transition features. The hominids of this time period were considered as Heidelberg men most often. Nonetheless, the conventionality of this term was obvious for specialists. The African and European populations were practically isolated from each other during the Dnieper Glaciation and the subsequent interglacial period. Presumably, Neanderthals separated from Homo Heidelbergensis about 300,000 years ago in Europe and Homo Sapiens did it between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago in Africa (“Homo Heidelbergensis”). Neanderthals retained most of their features from the Heidelberg man: powerful arches, slightly protruding face and lack of chin. It was shorter in height, but had a more massive physique. On the other hand, Homo Sapiens had the smallest brow ridges of all kinds of hominids, a high forehead, a flat face with a prominent chin, high growth and a slender physique. A typical brain volume was 1100-1400 cm3. The reconstruction of 27 limb bones found in Atapuerca helped the scientists to determine the growth of Homo Heidelbergensis compared to Homo Neanderthalensis.
The morphology of the outer and middle epochs indicated sensitivity, similar to the one that the modern people have and it was very different from chimpanzees and other modern primates. Hearing sensitivity was increased at frequencies of 2-4 kHz, this range contains the relevant acoustic information transmitted by the speech method (Quam et al., 2012, 2). The stone tools of Homo Heidelbergensis were very close to the Acheulean instruments used by the bipedal men. In addition to stone tools, no complex products were found. However, some of those tools were made from minerals that were beautiful from nature, such as quartzite, or from soft rocks that were not suitable for practical use. Additionally, those products had a pronounced axial symmetry sometimes, unnecessary for practical use, or complete the absence of any traces of use. Such signs implied the development of aesthetic feelings and the use of such tools as ornaments, ceremonial items, status symbols or exchange measures. It meant that the appearance of quite cohesive groups with a strong emotional attachment started. It could be confirmed by archaeological finds of completely toothless jaws, the elderly and feeble owners of who got help from the other members of groups. Additionally, an increase in brain volume led to the birth of biologically immature children and an extension of the growing period, during which children needed some help and protection of other members of the group.
Homo Ergaster were the first hominids that went beyond Africa. It was found in Georgia. These men’s skulls were low and massive; the bones of the arch were thick. The frontal bone was slightly curved. The arches were powerful, but sharply protruding. The postorbital constriction was strongly pronounced. The occipital bone was strongly refracted and there was a powerful rounded occipital cushion. The brain area of the skull was relatively small, and the facial section was large, high, with a massive upper jaw protruding forward. Lower jaw was heavy and large. The face was much flattened. There was a tendency towards a relative increase in anterior teeth, and a decrease in the posterior teeth. The postcranial skeleton as a whole was close to the skeleton of a modern human. The brain volume was approximately 800 to 900 cm3, for some specimens it was less than 700 cm3 (“The Ancestry of Man from Homo Habilis to Homo Floresiensis”). The life cycle of Homo Ergaster was not the same as that the one that modern humans have: they developed quickly and matured early, but they got fully formed by the age of 12.
The size and proportions of the body of the Homo Ergaster were close to the ones of the modern people. It is assumed that male individuals reached height of 1, 85-1, 89 meters, and a weight of 68-70 kilograms. The body shape was rather slender and similar to representatives of some modern African tribes. A hypothesis has been put forward that such physique was formed in order to provide a more efficient cooling of the body in a hot climate. It was caused by a significant ratio of the body surface to the volume. Homo Ergaster could be distinguished from Homo Erectus by thinner bones of the skull and the absence of a foramen. This species differs from Homo Heidelbergensis with thinner bones and a lower forehead. No archaeological evidences of the use of symbolic thinking by Homo Ergaster were found. Nonetheless, a well-developed brain and the configuration of the speech apparatus suggested some forms of verbal and symbolic communication.
Homo Floresiensis was an extinct species of dwarf men. These ones had a very small height, and for this reason they were also given the name “hobbits”. The remains of a Homo Floresiensis were found on the island of Flores in Indonesia. In the cave Liang Bua a lot of bones were found. According to researches, the age of the findings ranged from 13,000 to 95,000 years. The height of these species was very small and amounted to about one meter. Additionally, a these men had a small brain size, about 400 cm3, which was even smaller than that the ones of modern chimpanzees, and three times smaller than modern humans have. Nonetheless, in spite of these facts, Homo Floresiensis were aware of making tools of stone and of the proper usage of fire. Additionally, many scientists agree with the idea that the “hobbit” became a descendant of the Pithecanthropus, which inhabited Southeast Asia. As a descendant of the Pithecanthropus, who was engaged in the manufacture of tools made of stone and probably knew how to obtain and maintain fire; Homo Floresiensis took over these abilities, but greatly decreased in height. Such a strong decrease in height is associated with insular isolation of this species for researchers, when for millennia of life in a small island; the subspecies of a right-bred person became much lower than their ancestors. As evidence, scientists also cite real cases when, even with insular isolation, even the representatives of a reasonable person grew smaller.
A holotype of the species was the first best-preserved first specimen. This is almost a full skeleton of a mature female (approximately 30 years old) growing 1 meter and 6 centimeters. For the second relatively well-preserved specimen, the height was estimated at 1 meter and 9 centimeters on the basis of the tibial bones, since this specimen does not have thighbones. The body weight that was close to the chimpanzee’s one was about16-29 kg. Additionally, such features as the absence of a chin, small bending of the bones of the hands and the thickness of the bones of the legs were noticed. The forearm was rotated to 120° relative to the elbow joint. The modern men have the angle of rotation of 145-165 degrees approximately. Insufficient bending, which could interfere with the process of making tools was redeemed by a shorter and inverted collarbone that gave the impression of shrug.
The skull of a Floresiensis man served as a receptacle for an extremely small brain volume. The volume of the cranial cavity was 417 cm³, which was much inferior not only to the cranium of a modern man, but also to the cranium of a straight-browed man, for whom the brain size was from 800 to 1250 cubic centimeters. This volume was comparable to the volume of known casts of the cavity of the skull of Australopithecines, ranging from 427 to 545 cm3. Other morphological characteristics of the human skull of the Floresiensis men, when considered in combination, sharply distinguished it from both the typical skull of the modern man and the skull of Australopithecus, while showing a number of similar characteristics with the skulls of Homo Sapiens. Some characteristics of the Floresiensis’ brain approximated it to the brains of the Homo Erectus, while others compared it to the brain of the modern man. Its brain also featured a number of features that have no analogues among other primates. Some of such features were the extremely developed temporal lobes. In a modern man, this part of the brain was for the identification of objects and persons responsible in particular. Another distinguishing feature was the two powerful convolutions in the 10th Boardman field, which potentially indicated a well-developed imagination and the ability to abstract thinking and planning.
Homo Sapiens were about 140-190 cm tall and weighed 50-100 kg approximately. Its brain volume was about 1000-1850 cm3 (“Homo Sapiens – Modern Humans”, 2015). This species lived in certain places on the planet Earth, since this species was a reasonable species. It was a cosmopolitan, corresponding to its Area all over the globe with the exception of Antarctica. However, there was a certain tendency of human settlement, in particular, this species settles mainly in flat places with a temperate or tropical climate, near the sea or the reservoir. All creatures of the species were related to the surrounding living and non-living environment in the same way. For this reason, all of them have similar food interrelations, habitat, distribution and other connections. However, depending on the specific population, those relationships could vary significantly. Thus, the diet of the Eskimos of Greenland and the Bedouins of Africa did not coincide. Consequently, a creature was a highly eubiotic species. All creatures of the species had a single molecular-genetic structure. The diploid set of chromosomes was 46 and the haploid set was 23 (“DNA and Cell Division”). All creatures had similar physiological and biochemical processes in the body. The systems of respiration, digestion, reproduction, excretion were the same and functioned in a similar way. There are also certain modifications depending on the population. For instance, the ability to digest lactose milk is the majority of Europeans and, in contrast, a minority of people in Southeast Asia is able to digest this disaccharide. All individuals of the species have a single tissue and cellular structure. There are 4 types of peoplet: the nervous, connective, epithelial, muscular, which are arranged and function in all people in the same way. All cells of the tissue are also arranged and function as one. All people have an intrauterine development, the period of bearing of the offspring is 9 months, the care of the offspring, the feeding and upbringing for a long period are characteristic.

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