Chapter 1 Nature, Humanity, and History

Chapter 1 Nature, Humanity, and History - Chapter 1: From...

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Chapter 1: From the Origins of Agriculture I0. African Genesis A0. Interpreting the Evidence 10. In 1859 Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species , in which he suggested that species evolve over long periods of time through the process of natural selection. With regard to human beings, Darwin speculated that humans must be “descended from a hairy, tailed quadruped,” and that the process of human evolution must have started in Africa. 20. Discoveries of hominid skeletal remains in Java (1891) and Beijing (1929) indicated Asian origins for human beings. However, the African origins of human beings were suggested by the discovery of Australopithecus africanus in 1924 and confirmed by the work of the Leakeys in eastern Africa beginning in 1950. 30. Archaeological evidence and understanding of the evolution of other species has helped scientists to trace the evolution of human beings over a period of 4 million years. B0. Human Evolution 10. The australopithecines and modern humans are hominids, which are members of the primate family. Hominids such as australopithecines were distinguished from other primates by three characteristics: bipedalism, a very large brain, and a larynx located low in the neck. 20. Scientists theorize that these characteristics gave hominids advantages in the struggle for survival during the climatic changes of the Great Ice Age (Pleistocene period). Further climate changes 2 to 3 million years ago are thought to be the cause of the evolution of Homo habilis , whose brain was 50% larger than that of the australopithecines. 30. By 1 million years ago Homo habilis and all of the australopithecines were extinct. They were replaced first by Homo erectus (1.8 million years ago) and then by Homo sapiens (400,000 to 100,000 years ago). C0. Migrations from Africa 10. Both Homo erectus and Homo sapiens migrated from Africa to various parts of Europe and Asia, their migration facilitated by the low sea levels associated with the Ice Age. Homo sapiens migrated from Africa during a wet period (40,000 years ago) and crossed the land bridge to the Americas during the last glacial period (32,000–13,000 years ago). The low sea levels associated with this period also allowed Homo sapiens to reach Japan and New Guinea/Australia. 20. These migrations were accompanied by very minor physical evolutionary changes such as changes in skin pigmentation. For the most part, however, humans adapted to their new environments not through biological evolution, but through a process of cultural adaptation. II0.
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Chapter 1 Nature, Humanity, and History - Chapter 1: From...

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