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Evolution of Humanity. How do we determine “progress” and “modernity”?. Remember Darwin?. Evolution – the change in the inherited characteristics of biological populations over successive generations.

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evolution of humanity

Evolution of Humanity

How do we determine “progress” and “modernity”?

remember darwin
Remember Darwin?
  • Evolution – the change in the inherited characteristics of biological populations over successive generations.
    • Leads to speciation, or the development of new species (Though other elements are also invovled)
  • Natural Selection – traits that provide an advantage in reproductive success will be preferentially passed on over those that do not.
behavioral modernity
Behavioral Modernity
  • A set of traits that distinguish present-day humans and their recent ancestors from other living primates and extinct hominids
  • What traits do you think would be the most important?
slide4

The point at which homo sapiens start to demonstrate complex, symbolic thought and cultural creativity

    • Language
    • Finely made tools
    • Fishing
    • Long distance sharing/exchange between groups
    • Self ornamentation (jewelry, pigment, etc)
    • Figurative art
    • Game playing
    • Music
    • Cooking
    • Burial of dead
the behavioral b s
The Behavioral B’s
  • Blades, beads, burials, bone tools, beauty
  • Invention is considered to be more advanced behavior than adoption – inventing new concepts, methods, etc. is believed to show higher intelligence than simply adopting the idea
  • We currently lack proof for a genetic connection to the capacity for/emergence of Behavioral Modernity
slide6

Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH)

    • Members of Homo Sapiens who are visually consistent (phenotype) with modern humans
    • Sometimes also called Homo Sapiens Sapiens
  • Behaviorally Modern Humans (BMH)
    • Humans that demonstrate behavioral modernity.
  • **These are not the same thing**
theory 1 great leap forward
Theory 1: Great Leap Forward
  • Proponents argue around 50 kya in Africa and/or Europe, there was a sudden shift in cognitive ability
  • Earlier humans were behaviorally primitive, indistinguishable from extinct hominids
  • Critiques:
    • BMH emerge over 100 000 years after AMH; no genetic evidence for increased cognition in that timespan
    • No explanation for how this change might have happened
theory 2 continuity hypothesis
Theory 2: Continuity Hypothesis
  • Proponents argue there is no single genetic or biological change to explain BHM
  • Emergence is the result of the evolution of society and learning
  • There is evidence of behavioral modernity as early as 250 kya, such as burial of grave goods, use of pigment, and heat in tool making
  • Rapid pace of cultural evolution due to climate pressure, population change
  • Also explains rapid change in modern era (Increased population increases chances of innovation)