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Anthropology – Process of Human Evolution Essay

In “The Essence of Anthropology,” chapter four explains “Humans have a long evolutionary history as mammals and primates that set the stage for the cultural beings we are today” (Haviland, Prins, Walrath & McBride 2007). The appearance of the world has been continuously changing for millions of years. The continental drift has a large factor in this change to the world itself. The continental drift forced the position of the continents to move through the movement of plate tectonics. The visible continents, attached to plate tectonics upon which they ride, would shift slowly over time as a result.

This is the geological process that is responsible for climate changes in different environments that has influenced the course of evolution for our ancestors, the hominoids (Haviland, Prins, Walrath & McBride 2007). Through the continental drift, Africa has gone from complete rainforest to mostly dry land. With primates being established living within the rainforest atmosphere and hanging in trees constantly, the change into more of a savannah environment has constructed more open land. With less trees and more land, primates at this time adapted the ability to walk on two feet, rather than all four (Snyder, 1/24/12).

Hominoids have the classification of apes and humans. We are alike mostly by having no tail, a larger brain and being able to walk upright on two feet (Snyder, 1/24/12). Australopithecines were the first definite hominoids. In “The Essences of Anthropology,” chapter four states “The earliest definite australopithecine fossils date back 4. 2 million years ago”(Haviland, Prins, Walrath & McBride 2007). Australopithecines were categorized into robust or gracile and lived in eastern and southern parts of Africa.

Robust, meaning they had a strong chewing apparatus; while gracile australopithecines possessed more of a delicate chewing apparatus (Haviland, Prins, Walrath & McBride 2007). Homo habilis was the next primate to come along through evolution about 2. 5 million years ago (Haviland, Prins, Walrath & McBride 2007). This species began to start looking more like humans and appeared to have used stone tools. Homo habilis developed a larger brain and became more quick-witted and smart from eating more meat (Snyder, 1/31/12). About 2 million years ago, Homo erectus came about.

Homo erectus was the most human-like species before modern homo developed. This species brought our ancestry out of Africa and began to populate the rest of the world. They migrated to places like East Asia. Eastern Asia was a more adaptable area, so there was less use for tools (Snyder, 2/2/12). Homo erectus was the first of those who sounded similar to human beings by using their voices (Snyder, 2/2/12). They became smarter and used more resources such as, fire. Homo erectus experienced gradual change over the years and eventually developed into the species of modern humans (Haviland, Prins, Walrath & McBride 2007).


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