Human Characteristics

 

This topic tells us the different evolution of human features over the past 7-6 million years and the gradual emergence of these human traits. The initial humans did not walk upright but on the ground and also climbed trees. The first early human said to represent a common ancestry to both humans and chimpanzee’s is known as the sahelanthropus, and is believed to have been bipedal and its upright posture assisted this species stay alive in diverse habitats, which included grasslands and forests. Due to the adaptation to such habitats, their bodies evolved in ways, which enabled them to largely walk upright and still climb trees. This species had its upper thighbone part similar to that of large apes. Compared to a chimpanzee, the spine of early humans connected with the skull underneath, stabilizing the head when walking upright as opposed to that of a chimpanzee, which connected with the skull at the back, holding the head at an angle. The hip muscles enabled the early human walk, due to the connection between the upper thigh and hip bones was longer than in chimpanzees. The early human could regularly support its weight on one leg at a time when walking due to its strong knee joint, which is lightly built. This upright walking helped the early man in picking fruits and other food from low lying branches, helped them to cover wide landscapes quickly and efficiently and also enabled them to appear large and intimidating. However, this upright posture has led to back pain and other skeletal problems commonly known to the modern humans, therefore making this an abject side effect of walking upright.

By 6 million years ago, the early human species known as the Australopithecus afarensis, were small in size and with unusual long arms and short legs, and also had a large digestive tract for their plant based diet. This also characterized their broad rib cage, which made room for the intestines, stomach and other organs that broke down food. Around 1.9 million years ago, some of the early humans could now adapt to the hot climates, due to their narrow bodies that helped them remain cool, while their long legs enabled them to travel longer distances,this has commonly being associated with Homo erectus. From 6-2 million years ago, the early humans evolved bigger and complex brains as they continued to evolve bigger bodies and this helped them tackle encounters in strange environments as they spread around the globe. These environmental unpredictability led to this massive brain growth that helped our ancestors survive.

Another human characteristic is illustrated around 2.6 million years ago as there came the dawn of new technology in the lives of the early humans. By this time they used hammer stones to shape stone cores so as to form sharp flakes, which were used to cut, crush, pound and access new foods that included meat from large animals. Also around 1.7 million years ago, the early man shaped large flakes off stone cores into hand axes, which served as a multipurpose tool for more than a million years, and these ancient axes have been found in various parts of Asia, Europe and Africa. Later on around 790000 years ago, the early man could now control fire and used it as a tool for cooking; this led to great change in the diet of the early human. The cooking of food made their food easier to digest because cooking released nutrients in foods, although some researchers think that cooking may date back to 1.5 million years ago. This dawn of new technology enabled the early human hunt and kill large animals by making wooden spears. This reduced the risk that they earlier experienced from these wild animals. This period of time also saw the invention of awls and perforators in Africa, which were later carried on to cooler climates.

As time went on, another human characteristic that came out is the ability of the early humans socializing for group survival tactics. The sharing of different resources helped them meet the daily environmental challenges, and they also congregated together so as to rear families. So around 350000 years ago, our ancestors adopted new ways of communication through color, language, paintings, figurines and writing, this helped them interact and express themselves in an unpredictable world. By using ocher and manganese, the early humans marked objects and their own skin so as to identify themselves and group. Also by this time, they were creating artifacts that represented the world around them and this was done through drawing, engraving and stenciling. Through words and symbols, language and its richness was ultimately born to the modern human life.

Through the past 12,000 years, our species the Homo sapiens made a transitional change by producing food and changing our surroundings, this has led to a significant change in the history of mankind. The Homo erectus became extinct and this saw the evolution of Homo sapiens, the modern man, who could now record information on objects, travel even wider distances, make special tools for fishing, collect and cook shellfish and so on.

My ”Aha!” moment came with the introduction of the Australopithecus afarensis species into the picture. I find its body structure of long arms and short legs very amusing together with its internal structure. The reason for choosing this topic is that, the human characteristic was not born with us since the beginning of time, but it took us time to come and adapt these characteristics. Therefore, the modern human characteristics is not as a result of invention, but a transitional evolution from our ancestors and these same characteristics, we do relate to and apply them in our daily lives irrespective of category. These human characteristics have helped in changing the world and are the reason as to why we are human.

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