Many of us have asked ourselves this question and wondered “what does it mean to be human?” Various people will come up with concepts and ideas trying to answer this one question. Others will focus on human characteristics and feelings and others, contributions that individuals make to help others. In this paper the physical characteristics that humans have that differentiate them from other primates will be discussed as these qualities can help us understand what makes us different and ultimately answer the question of “what makes us human.
Humans, classified as Homo sapiens, are said to be the most evolved and developed among the animal and primate species. Humans are the most dominant species on Earth, and they are different, in many ways, when compared to other animals, evolutionary and current primates. Primates are highly diverse group that include chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas and humans. (Scupin & DeCorse, n.
d.) Primates have many stand out features such as their opposable thumb and 3-color vision distinguish them from other animals.
There are varies capabilities that distinguish us from other animals and primates such as several unique physical, biological, emotional and social traits but in this paper, we’ll discuss the physical differences that humans have from other primates and animals.
Primates have a generalized skeletal structure that helps and allows them to be flexible in their movements. Compared to other primates, humans fully walk upright. The changes in the pelvis bone, allowing them to walk upright and the human brain/skull being bigger makes childbirth much more painful and difficult for women in contrast with other primates (Scupin & DeCorse, n.d.). For humans to walk upright, they have longer legs than arms compared to other primates that have longer arms than legs, they can straighten their knees whilst other primates have bent knees.it might be argued that other primates can walk on two legs but they mostly or normally move on all fours as they need to go up trees and do so moving vertically opposed to humans moving around flat in a upright posture.
Another physical feature that differentiates humans is how the shoulder is positioned and shaped when compared to other primates. A human shoulder joint “angles out horizontally from the neck,” (interreference) in contrast with an ape’s shoulder, which is “pointed more vertically.” (interreference) The apes’ shoulder is suitable for hanging on and moving around trees whilst the human shoulder is better for throwing.
Compared to other animals, primates reproduce few offspring and these offspring go through a long process of growth and development. The process begins in the mother’s womb, where the young spends a period called the “gestation period” (Scupin & DeCorse, n.d.) this process is longer for primates than it is for non-primates. Primates offspring are born helpless and unable to survive on their own hence they have a longer period of maturation where they remain highly dependent on their parents and adults in general. In contrast to other primates, human offspring reach maturity when there is an appearance of the wisdom teeth, which is reached at 20 years of age.
Primates have good vision. Whilst most animals depend on their other senses such as sense of smell, primates have larger eyes that are oriented to the front of their heads, these eyes are forward-faced and sit fairly close together and are protected by bony structures, rely on those eyes for their vision. The forward-faced eyes allow a binocular and stereoscopic (Scupin & DeCorse, n.d.) vision, where the visual fields of the eyes overlap, transmitting images to both sides of the brain. Primates benefit from enhanced depth perception as a result. Evolution made the retina of primates sensitive to different wavelengths of light and production of color vision. The use of vision and visual acuity has different important uses for the primates.
An important physical trait that humans possess is the brain, the human brain is enormous when compared to other primates and animals. Primates have bigger brains than other mammals, however, human brains are on another level because their brains are up to about six or multiple times bigger than what would be anticipated from a well-evolved creature with their body size. The most increasing significance is which parts of the cerebrum are enormous. Humans have a layer over the brain that is related with higher cognitive functions, this layer is known as the neocortex. They have an exceptionally huge neocortex; however, this is a characteristic that apes and monkeys have, and when compared with theirs, the human neocortex isn’t especially enormous.
In contrast to earlier humans, the brain during childbirth is now as bigger than it was at that stage and as big as it can get because if it were to get any bigger, labour would be impossible. Human evolution has created various systems to compensate for this, for example, human children’s skulls are not being completely intertwined, to enable the skull to be securely twisted during birth. To my understanding and interpretation, what this means is that after birth the human cerebrum is allowed to keep developing, multiplying in size during the first couple of years of the child’s life and proceeding to develop all through youth. For other primates such as the chimp, the holes between the skull bones are far too little and they intertwine much sooner than in humans, taking into consideration less development.
Human brains likewise show more collapsing of the surface, known as convolutions, than different primates. This builds the surface region of the brain without influencing size or volume, implying that more associations can be made in the human brain per unit of volume.
Another feature that makes humans and primates strikingly comparable are the teeth and jaw. Both primates and humans have 32 teeth that are namely, incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. Apart from the fact that primate and human teeth vary in the size of the canine, because the primates are bigger, the primary difference lies in the state of the jaws. Our jaws are an alternate shape, they are parabolic and are a lot smaller than primates. Primates’ jaws are more rectangular than our own. Humans have a chin where primates lack one. This influences the state of the face. Human faces are proportionally reversed from humans. This implies that our huge brain and little jaws make a contrary shape than primates since they have little brains and huge jaws. The differences among the human and primate jaws can be ascribed in part of varied diets. Primates’ bigger jaws and bigger teeth are progressively helpful in their vegetarian diets. They are continually eating fibrous fruits, plants, and shoots. People eat an all the more balanced eating regimen and don’t require very as wide of a jaw for the sustenance we eat.
Another physical feature that makes humans different from the other primates is the locomotion and opposable thumbs. Bipedal locomotion in apes differs from that in modern humans in several respects. The most striking difference that these two primates have is that apes have a “bent-hip-bent-knee” (BHBK) type of locomotion, where the hip and knee remain considerably flexed throughout the cycle. It is said that modern human locomotion possibly evolved from an ancestral BHBK-type of locomotion