Human Biological and Cultural Evoluton


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Covers the relevance of biological factors to culture and our place in the taxonomic scheme of things

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Human Biological and Cultural Evoluton

  1. 1. Human Biological and Cultural Evolution Their Relevance to Culture
  2. 2. Culture in Evolutionary Perspective <ul><li>To understand culture, we need to: </li></ul><ul><li>(1) Know our biological capacity for culture </li></ul><ul><li>(2) How we fit into the animal kingdom </li></ul><ul><li>(3) How we came to be what we are </li></ul>
  3. 3. Our Capacity For Culture: Our Biological Roots <ul><li>(1) Our language ability </li></ul><ul><li>(2) Our ability to make and use tools </li></ul><ul><li>(3) Our bipedalism—ability to stand and walk on two feet </li></ul><ul><li>If the “science of humankind” is to be taken seriously we need to know our own anatomy </li></ul>
  4. 4. First Things First: Taxonomy <ul><li>Definition: Hierarchical, systematic classification of all lifeforms. </li></ul><ul><li>The classification system starts with the broadest or most general categories : first, the kingdom, then the phylum, then the class, then the order. </li></ul><ul><li>The system ends up with specific categories: the genus, the species, the variety. </li></ul><ul><li>Each category, whether broad or specific, is known as a taxon (plural, taxa) </li></ul>
  5. 5. Taxonomy: Binomial Nomenclature <ul><li>Every species has at least two names </li></ul><ul><li>We humans belong to the: </li></ul><ul><li>Genus: Homo </li></ul><ul><li>Species: sapiens </li></ul><ul><li>This is an example of binomial (that is, pertaining to two names) </li></ul><ul><li>nomenclature (that is, a system of names) </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes we have a third name for variety: for us, that would be sapiens for some purposes </li></ul>
  6. 6. Stylistic Convention of Binomial Nomenclature <ul><li>We italicize all names of a given species </li></ul><ul><li>Capitalize the genus </li></ul><ul><li>Lowercase the species and variety </li></ul><ul><li>Example: Homo (sapiens) sapiens </li></ul><ul><li>For broader taxa, families, orders, and phyla, for example, the term is capitalized </li></ul><ul><li>Thus we belong to the order Primata. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Taxonomy: The General Taxa <ul><li>This is the taxonomy of ourselves: </li></ul><ul><li>Kingdom: Animalia (ingests food, moves) </li></ul><ul><li>Phylum: Chordata (has spinal cord) </li></ul><ul><li>Subphylum: Vertebrata (has segmented protective bone or cartilage that protects the spinal cord) </li></ul><ul><li>Class: Mammalia (warm blooded, has hair, female secretes milk) </li></ul><ul><li>Order: Primata: (larger brain, stereoscopic [depth] vision, flexible digits, complex sociality </li></ul><ul><li>Suborder: Anthropoidea (monkey, apes, humans) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Taxonomy of Humans and their Cousins <ul><li>Until recently, all animals were categorized by their phenotype or visible characteristics </li></ul><ul><li>DNA analysis has given a different perspective </li></ul><ul><li>For example, our genome (total genetic composition) is closer to the chimps’ genome than to the gorillas’ and the orangutans’ </li></ul><ul><li>So a new typology has been adopted for humans and their closest relatives </li></ul>
  9. 9. Hominid Taxonomy <ul><li>The chart above is one of the new taxonomies: </li></ul><ul><li>Hominids apply to all humans and African apes </li></ul><ul><li>Alternative scheme applies “ homininae ” to chimps, bonobos, and gorillas </li></ul><ul><li>Hominins apply to Homo sapiens and all extinct ancestors: Australopithecus, Homo habilis, H. erectus, H. heidelbergensis, and H. neanderthalensis </li></ul>
  10. 10. Order Primata <ul><li>Includes prosimians (tarsier, upper left), old world monkeys (mangabey, lower left), other monkeys, aapes, and humans </li></ul><ul><li>Some of the traits of primates are </li></ul><ul><li>Stereoscopic vision; the eyes of both the tarsier (a prosimian) and the mangabey (an old world monkey are angled forward, so they can perceive depth </li></ul><ul><li>Flexible hands and fingers both of these can grasp objects </li></ul><ul><li>They are both sociable and occur in groups </li></ul>
  11. 11. Suborder Anthropoidea <ul><li>Includes monkeys, apes, and humans </li></ul><ul><li>Both the rhesus macaque (top) and the chimpanzee are humanlike </li></ul><ul><li>Compared to prosimians, both have larger brains </li></ul><ul><li>Both live in groups with complex social interactions </li></ul><ul><li>Both groom and have dominance hierarchies </li></ul><ul><li>Where they part: most monkeys have tails; all apes have none </li></ul>
  12. 12. Superfamily Hominoidea <ul><li>Both orangutans (top) and gorillas (bottom) have larger cranial capacities than monkeys </li></ul><ul><li>Both lack tails </li></ul><ul><li>Both are semi-bipedal; monkeys are quadrupedal </li></ul><ul><li>Apes engage in suspensory behavior (suspend themselves below tree branches); monkeys rarely do </li></ul>
  13. 13. Superfamily Homininae <ul><li>Comprises chimpanzees, bonobos </li></ul><ul><li>Larger cranial capacity than other hominoids </li></ul><ul><li>Have ability to make and use tools </li></ul><ul><li>Have complex social relations, ranging from grooming to dominance hierarchies (top) </li></ul><ul><li>Bonobos: use sex to ease tension and recruit new females into the troop (below) </li></ul>