(Evolution)The First Men: Ancestors To Be Proud Of Essay, Research Paper
The First Men: Ancestors to be Proud of Evolution is described to be any change in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from one generation to the next by Biology, a high school textbook. But what exactly does that mean? Evolution is the idea that things or animals change and grow throughout time and eventually change into something different. Whether or not you believe in evolution, you cannot deny the scientific views on the subject. I intend to show the scientific reasoning behind the theory of evolution. In this paper, I will explain how scientists believe modern man came to be and what steps were taken to get there. Public Opinion In the eighteen and nineteen hundreds, most people did not want to believe the idea that their ancestors were apes. Since there are no living examples of human-like creatures that are not fully human, it is still hard for many people to envision such an idea. Thinking that Charles Darwin was the sole creator of the idea of evolution, some strict Christians considered him to be a Satanist because he did not believe that a Supreme Being controlled evolutionary life. Evolutionary Hypotheses There are four main hypotheses about the origin of modern humans. The first, called Neanderthal phase hypothesis, created by Loring Brace, explains that there was only one evolutionary line and that there were no branches. Spectrum hypothesis says that there was a lot of interaction and interbreeding between different species of early men, making it difficult to see the lines of where one species ended and another began. Clark Howell came up with the Pre-Neanderthal hypothesis, stating that early Neanderthals were broken into two branches: the now extinct Western European Neanderthals and what became modern humans. Lastly, Marcellin Boule brought up the idea that somewhere in time, the evolutionary branch was split to separate Homo sapiens from all other primates and early humans. Are Modern Men and Monkeys Related? To discover whether or not some monkeys and humans are in the same gene pool and determine if they are related genetically, scientists can look at certain factors and characteristics. Many kinds of monkeys share similar tastes as humans. In Australia, three monkeys were given tea, coffee, alcohol and tobacco. After observation, it was noted that all three monkeys enjoyed the products without any outside influence, just as modern man would have. When the apes had hangovers , they refused more liquor and wanted lemon juice to soothe their stomachs. This is because monkeys have similar taste and nervous systems as modern men, pushing forward the idea that men and monkeys really are similar.The First Primates The first primates arrived on Earth ten million years after dinosaurs became extinct. Plesiadapis, a squirrel-like creature, was the first primate to arrive. Around forty million years ago came Smilodectes, which resembled a lemur. Twenty million years ago, human-like animals called the Pliopithecus lived in trees and walked on the branches on two legs, using their arms for balance. Walking on two legs was actually a step back on the evolutionary ladder for these creatures. Bipedality is less efficient than quadrupedality because more calories are burned when covering the same distance.The First HominidsAustralopithecus The earliest primates that were truly recognized as hominids were of the genus Australopithecus. They lived in southern and central Africa around five and a half million years ago and were more ape-like than modern man is. It is one of several extinct hominids, or primates, that may be man s ancestors. One belief is that around three million years ago, Early Australopithecus split into two branches, the genus Homo and the genus Australopithecus. Australopithecus is broken up into several species, those being afarensis, africanus, robustus and boisei. The bipedal afarensis had a small brain cavity and large teeth. The teeth, legs and pelvis were fairly human-like and lived from three and a half to three million years ago. Africanus had a larger brain and smaller teeth than its processors. It probably ate fruit and foliage and lived from three to two and a half million years ago. Robustus had a large and heavy skull and large jaws and teeth that were adapted to chewing softer things. The species lived around two to one and a half million years ago. Boisei had larger teeth and skulls and lived from two to one million years ago. Generally, Australopithecus had a brain smaller than that of a gorilla and walked semi-upright. The species was quite small, ranging from three and a half to five feet tall. Also, either all or just the more advanced species of Australopithecus used crude stone tools.Homo Homo habilis, meaning handy human, is the next most recent ancestor of modern man. Habilis was around five feet tall and weighed around one hundred pounds. The species is estimated to have lived two and a half to one and a half million years ago. It was also the first animal to carry the genus name Homo, indicating that it was, indeed, the ancestor of humans. Habilis had a larger cranial cavity, smaller rear teeth, and the skeletal structure more closely related to that of modern man. Also habilis was the first ancestor to be believed to be able to have the ability to speak at all, even if it wasn t very coherent. The next species of the Homo genus was originally named Pithecanthropus erectus, which means, erect ape-man. Kaveh Nateghi remarked, Later the name was changed to Homo erectus because of its incredibly humanly physical attributes and its evolutionary proximity to Homo sapiens, the species of modern humans . Erectus lived from two million to three hundred thousand years ago. They walked upright, were about five and a half feet tall and had human-like hands. It was the first species to discover fire and engage in cooperative group hunting, which allowed them to live in colder areas and kill mass amounts of food. Erectus was also the first men to socially divide daily labor between men and women. They could speak more proficiently than habilis, but only at about one-tenth of the rate that modern man speaks at. In The First Men, White notes, As one anthropologist has remarked, they were the first people of whom, if you met them walking across a field, you would say these are definitely not apes, they re men .
Homo ergaster was very similar to erectus, but was dubbed its own species because it had some characteristics which erectus didn t. Ergaster was overall more rounded, taller, and had less recessed features than its sister species, erectus. In 1995 and 1996, another specimen was found in Spain and is considered to possibly fit in the human family tree as being the common ancestor of Homo sapiens and Neanderthals. The new species was named Homo antecessor, meaning man s forebear, and probably lived eight hundred thousand years ago. Antecessor was most likely almost six feet tall and hunted animals such as the rhinoceros and elephant. He sometimes resorted to cannibalism, using the same tools to kill each other as were used for hunting animals. However, cannibalism is not a sign of brutality. In fact, it may have been a mystical ritual act that had spiritual concepts behind it. The early men may have believed that by eating the brains of other men, you would acquire others knowledge and power. Homo heidelbergensis, or the archaic Homo sapien, arrived five thousand years ago and stayed through two hundred thousand years ago. The first remains of the archaic sapien were found in 1921 and have been found in Africa, Europe and Asia. The first specimen of Homo sapien neanderthalensis was found in Neander Valley, Germany, in 1856. Before the race was more accepted as the ancestor of man, Neanderthal skulls were displayed in English museums between the gorilla and Negro displays. It was once believed that Neanderthals were savage beasts, completely uncivilized. In The Fate of the Classic Neanderthals, Loring Brace showed the world the truth: There is no trace of evidence that Neaderthals were forced to walk orang-like on the outer edge of their feet that they were unable fully to extend their knee joints that their spinal columns lacked the convexities necessary for fully erect posture that the head was slung forward on a peculiarly short and thick neck; and that the brain was inferior to that of modern humans. Neanderthals used their adeptness and resourcefulness to survive some of the most harshest environments such as the ice age glaciers (Nateghi, Neanderthals). In George Constable s The Neanderthals, he says of them, It turns out that although the Neanderthals were indeed different from modern man, they were sufficiently human in mind and body to deserve modern man s own species name, Homo sapiens. They learned to use fire as a source of warmth and light. They also used stone tools, wore warm clothing, and buried their dead with artifacts (Nateghi, Neanderthals). The group also lived in tribal groups, like families, and created primitive artwork. Cro-Magnons, a species of Homo sapiens, was first found near a hill called Cro-Magnon in France, in 1868. Cro-Magnon man looked very similar to modern man. Constable explains, The face of the Cro-Magnon, with its regular features, could almost belong to a Hollywood leading man. Cro-Magnons were modern from head to toe, talented as artists and initiators of the idea of writing (Constable, 127). They also made fine tools, including chisel-like tools to cut bone, antler and ivory. The Cro-Magnons also made a crude calendar about thirty thousand years ago. Homo sapiens sapiens migrated from Asia to the Americas around ten to twenty thousand BC. During the ice age, sea levels lowered and land bridges appeared. Some sapiens may have crossed the Bering Strait from Siberia to Alaska. When the ice glaciers began to melt in thirteen thousand BC, the land bridges were shut off and the climate became warmer and better for people. Animal, plant and human populations rose because of the warmer climate. Early Homo sapiens also domesticated animals from their own use.Misreported Missing Links On several occasions, scientists and anthropologists have misreported information about fossils. The Zinjanthropus Man was discovered and supposed to have been one and three-fourths million years old. Later, carbon dating found the fossil to be only ten thousand years old. The Nebraska Man s tooth, famous for being pointed out in the Scopes Monkey Trial in Tennessee, was reported to have been a one million-year-old fossil. Later, other fossils were found at the same site and it was discovered that the Nebraska Man was really nothing but a wild pig. From two skulls, a skullcap, a femur and three teeth, a Dutch scientist determined in 1898 that they belonged to the Java Man. Towards the end of his life, the scientist, Dubois, explained that the skull was really that of a giant gibbon. Also, it was found that two of the teeth were that of an orangutan. The jaw of Piltdown Man was found in 1912 and from there a face and head were constructed. Until 1953, scientists accepted the Man until it was realized that the jaw was actually that of a modern ape, which someone had stained and filed down to look older in an effort to prove the evolutionary theory. In 1932, a handful of teeth and fragments of a jaw were found in India. Automatically, one of the scientists decided that these were the remains of the ancestor of modern man. Sixty years later, he admitted that the conclusions he had made were more of opinion than fact. Now the same species, Ramapithecus, is classified as the same animal as an ancient orangutan.Conclusion There is much information about early humans and our ancestors. We have come a long way in our explorations but have still made mistakes and have far to go. As you can see, early men who are said to be our ancestors really not the barbarians some had believed. They used tools, eventually hunted in groups, and learned to speak and write. Some were very talented and thought through their actions. As best remarked by George Constable, Clearly, they were ancestors to be proud of .