This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.
Almost every possible environmental factor that could have been involved in mans physical evolution has been considered, but until the very recent present the role played by cultural factors in the physical evolution of man has received practically no attention" (Montagu, 1962). This is quite surprising seeing as that Darwin, in his 1871 publication The Descent of man, placed great emphasis on the evolution of intelligence, culture and so forth on the physical evolution of humans. Yet Darwin's insight has seemed to have been over looked. Until recently many physical anthropologists have been looking at what the physical, environmental pressures has had an effect on humans physical traits, almost wholly overlooking that "man's principal means of adapting himself to the physical environment is culture" (Montagu, 1962). Culture is a process that not only controls the pressures of natural selection, but as well, helps change the pressures. This becomes evident when we observe the development of tools, sexual selection, social selection, migration, improved care of children and so forth. Through cultural pressures we see primitive nature, transformed into human nature. "The development of intelligence increasingly freed man from the bondage of biologically predetermined response mechanisms" (Montagu, 1962). This intimately shifted natural selection to move away from prizing being able to react instinctively, and shift towards rewarding those who could make the most advantageous response to conditions. Thus, within my essay I shall go on to further discuss the effects that culture has had on the evolution of humans ***CONTINUE LATER***
"It was the success of the simplest tools that started the whole trend of human evolution and led to the civilization of today" (Montagu, 1962). It was once believed that as we evolved into large-brained, bipedal beings, almost to our current state before we first developed tools. Though, as fossil evidence contradicts, it appears that ancient apes had been using tools half a million years ago. It has been hypothesised that "man" first began a million years ago, when populations of apes transformed into bipedal, tool using creatures, which evidently gave rise to the genus Australopithecus. "Most of the obvious differences that distinguish man from ape came after the use of tools" (Montagu, 1962). Most evidence in regards to the transition and evolution in humans come from examining teeth, bones and tools, but the changes and evolution of apes was more than just morphological. Change occurred in patterns of life of intelligent primates, which was responsible due to new systems of child care, maturation and sex. Everything from fire, to hunting, complex social life, speech, tools, all evolved with the brain together forming the Genus homo, half a million years ago. Once again the brain evolved creating the current species today, Homo sapiens, from the pressures of more complex social life, fifty thousand years ago. It was not until the discovery at Olduvai by Mary Leakey that we could first find proof that our ancestors were clearly using stone tools nearly five hundred thousand years ago. Within the site, stone tools, with hammer stone and waste flakes were discovered, as well with the remains of small animal and rodents. The remains of their pelvises show these hominids were bipedal. Though their pelvises closely resemble modern humans shape at the top as being wider and shorter, but the bottom of the pelvis still closely resembles that of an ape. It is believed that to become bipedal a shift in the morphology of the upper pelvis is needed first, and the adaption of the lower pelvis later would make bipedalism more efficient. Their fore, this ape-man like species in Olduvai is in mid transformation. Bipedalism developed in them as an adaption suited best for long distance travel, that which is needed for hunting. As they evolved more than five hundred thousand years ago, as well did the structure of their pelvis', along with an almost double in cranial size. As suggested by Darwin, this implies "that tool use is both the cause and the effect of bipedal locomotion" (Montagu, 1962). With bipedalism, it also enabled humans more freedom of their hands to further develop tools, which would follow with the developing use of being able to carry, play and use such items as sticks and stones. Bipedalism changed more than the morphology of the pelvis, it also morphologically changed the development of teeth, parts of the body, and brain size.
Another interesting shift that occurred with the earlier australopithecines (ape-men) was the loss of a large canine tooth. In the wild it has been seen that large canine teeth in male baboons when shown to predators, has deterred such animals as dogs and cheetahs. Therefore, large canines are quite advantageous and essential to protect a group of animals, and especially towards ground-living animals. So then why did the early ape-men who first grazed the open planes of Africa not have large canines? As suggested by Montagu, "it would appear that the protection of the group must have shifted from teeth to tools early in the evolution of the man-apes and long before the appearance of the forms that have been found in association with stone tools". Also, the incisors of the man-ape have changed and become smaller, since their teeth no longer must seize and pull things, which have evidently been replaced by their hands. Morphological changes in the teeth are greater than just a change in size. Large canines are used for more than show, they were used for fighting, pulling, throwing and seizing an enemy, and to support such actions, large muscles in the jaw, head and neck was essential. Therefore, when the function of certain previous advantageous traits is no longer required, a morphological change in more than just the teeth occurs, an overall morphological change is in need.
Changes in the morphology of the face, and brow ridges can also be explained through the change in human nature. An essential condition for men to organize in social groups was to have a suppression of rage, and the un-controlling drive to first place in the hierarchy of dominance.