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The first stage is the Fossil stage

During this semester, we studied about four stages of human biocultural evolution: the first stage is the Fossil stage. This stage is the beginning of human evolution (studied through the fossils found). Man is quite new to the planet since it is recorded to have existed only 5 million years ago while the earth had been in existence for over four billion years old. The geologic time by which the first distinct human fossil was found was in the late Miocene period, starting around 5 mya (millions of years ago) in South and East of Africa.

The earliest human fossil is called the Ardipithecus ramidus found in east Africa, 4. 4 mya. It was followed by Australopithecus afarensis and Australopithecus africanus( found in east and south Africa , 3. 7-2. 5 mya and south Africa , 3. 0-2. 5 mya, respectively) , Paranthropus boisei ( found in east Africa , 2. 6-1. 2 mya ) and Paranthropus robustus( found in south Africa, 2-1 mya). These fossils approximately have an increasing brain size of 400-530 cubic and an increasing height of 4 feet in A. ramidus to 5.

4 feet for P. robustus (A. ramidus had unknown brain size and height ). Analysis of the discovered remains showed that the afarensis, with its prognathous face, may be the ancestors to both genus Australopithecus and the genus Homo but they have been extinct. The africanus on the other hand, are more slender than the afarensis and are suspected to be the direct ancestors of humans by nature of their more humanoid facial features. In the bottom level, however, according to Charles Darwin, man had evolved from the primates.

The study of primates had been connected to the evolution of man, for both primates and man had the same ancestors from A. ramidus to Homo erectus. Interestingly, the taxonomic classification of man (Homo sapiens) is placed in the kingdom Animalia, of the Class Mammalia and in the order of the Primates and in the Family hominoid. This means that man and the other known primates such as the promisians, apes, monkeys, chimpanzees and gorillas have similar characteristics and may be related to each other. Both does not make its own food but depend on the intake of food.

Moreover, man like the primates have vertical column that forms an internal skeleton and they feed their young with their own milk. In addition, like the primates, man had hands and feet that are capable of grasping, has the same tendency for upright posture, have the same acute development of vision and had the same tendency for larger brains. The process of evolution from primates to man occurred because of natural selection wherein the need to struggle for existence had led the favorable characteristics of the primates (e. g.

size and strength) to be passed on to their offspring (through heredity by Gregor Mendel) and eventually over long periods of geologic time led to the evolution of new species called the homo. This new species had already become bi-pedal, that is, they already walk in two legs in contrast from previous walking in all fours. At this stage, there is no evidence of culture yet for man. Particular areas that the first human ancestors were discovered are in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya. Active mountain building, faulting and volcanism in these areas had exposed inclusive fossils.

In 1974, “Lucy” was discovered in Hadar, Ethiopia where the Red Sea, Rift Valley and Gulf of Aden intersect. She belong to the hominid specie group Australopithicus afarensis, 40% female skeleton that is surprisingly the same as the modern human female skeleton and approximately lived around 3. 7 million years ago. The first family, Hadar family, from the A. afarensis species, consisting of 13 individuals (9 adults and 4 children) was also found in Hadar (Study guide 1, 1- 9). The second stage is the early stone ages starting around 2. 5 mya. This age is called the Paleolithic age.

At this time the genus homo exist in East Africa and Eurasia. Homo skeletons had indicated an increase in height and brain weight, from 3. 6 feet to 4. 9 feet and from 500 cubic to 800 cubics, respectively as compared to the previous primate skeletons. It is at this stage that there is evidence of culture. The first culture is described as Oldowan (used of stone tools also known as chopping tools) after the name of the Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania where the stone tools were discovered. These human ancestors are scientifically named as Homo habilis and found exclusively in East Africa.

Around 1 to 1. 5 mya the Homo erectus (found in East Africa and Eurasia) became the first hunters that used more sophisticated tools, the Acheulian tools (hand axes that evolved from chopping tools). These species are taller and has larger brains and their use of Acheulian tools indicates greater intelligence, cognitive ability and control of motor skills. In the middle Paleolithic, 200,000 years ago, the Homo Neanderthalsis (found in Eurasia-Europe and West Asia) used fine Mousterian tools (small flake tools struck from disk cores).

Archeologists and Paleontologists have discovered that these species have larger brains and became the first men who lived in caves, who wore clothes, used fire and the first humans to bury their dead. Unfortunately, they have become extinct 30,000 years ago. They were then followed by the Homo sapiens, during the upper (late) Paleolithic age, 150,000 years before the present date. The Homo sapiens started the blade industry using tools struck from highly prepared prismatic cores and invented the bow and arrow, spear thrower and barbed harpoon.

They also have developed a new culture of caved paintings and “Venus” figurines. In the beginning of the Mesolithic age, Homo sapiens used blade and ground tools and lived in hamlet settlements. Best-known culture is the Natufian dating around 12900 to 9,800 before present. Natufian culture geographic distribution is found in the Levant of the Near East (Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and in the Taurus and Zagros mountains), near the grasslands and hills where water, animals and wild plants were growing.

They used chipped stone tools, ground stone tools, bone artifacts and ground mortars and pestles. Around 50-150 lived in semi-permanent (seasonal) hamlets aside from occupying caves and other entranceways. Meat had become an essential diet comprising 40-60% gazelle, wild sheep, goat and wild pig. Essential plants eaten were wild wheat, wild barley, peas, lentils, acorns, almonds, and pistachios (Study guide1, 9-15; Study guide 2 ,1). The third stage is the Neolithic stage, 8000-7000 BC or 10,000 years before present.

This is the start of the domestication of plants (peas and lentils) and animals (sheep, goat, pig and later cattle). In other words, this is the origin of farming and agriculture, animal husbandry and pastoralism. This stage (Neolithic revolution) of human development is found in the Fertile Crescent of the Near East –Levant (Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria), Anatolian Plateau and Taurus Mountains in Turkey, Zagros Mountains and foothills of Iran and Iraq. The most important characteristic of a domesticated plant is its loss of seed dispersal.

In the domesticated plant, humans control the biological reproduction of the plant. Thus, a fully domesticated plant can only exists as a cultivated plant controlled by humans through farming. The change from wild to domestic forms involves the toughening of the rachis of the wheat and barley plant so that the plant can no longer drop and disperse its seeds naturally. In wild forms, the rachis is brittle, in the domestic variety, the rachis is tough. In animals, domestication involves selective breeding and killing, as well as captivity.

Animals were breed for particular characteristic beneficial to humans and their exploitation to animals. Later developed characteristic were for milk and hair. Domestication has occurred by 7000 B. C. but the use of animal hair and milk comes 500 to 1000 years later. Moreover, new tools developed having to do with a permanent settled lifestyle and new activities centered on farming and animal husbandry: For farming man had invented the sickles for reaping, stomping for threshing, rakes and baskets for winnowing, and mortars and pestles for grinding.

Archeologists have discovered that because of the more settled lifestyle of the Neolithic revolution, humans developed a more stabilized food production and supplies, lived in permanent villages, and developed a new social organization. Moreover, they had a greater and rapid changes in material culture and innovations like greater building sophistications, new use and storing of foodstuff, developed manufacturing techniques with the use of clay for pottery and artworks, use of meal for decorative items and weapons, construction of irrigation and dams and clearing of lands for fields and long distance trade (Study guide 2 , 2-3).

The last stage is the civilization stage starting around the 3rd millennium BC. Archeologist had discovered that the earliest human civilization occurred in Mesopotamia in Tigris and Euphrates rivers, in ancient Egypt in the Nile River, and ancient Pakistan and India (Greater Indus valley) in the Indus River. There are ten characteristic of civilization which can be divided into two groups: 1) changes in the organization of society, and 2) material evidence documenting the changes in society.

The first group consists of existence of large urban cities with 5,000 people or more, fulltime specialization of labor, collection and management of surplus, class structured society, and political organization. The second group characteristics are the existence of monumental public works (temples, palaces, etc. ), long distance trade, standardized monumental artwork, writing, and arithmetic, geometry and astronomy.

In Mesopotamian civilization, the process was an internal one from rural communities to urban civilization particularly in the Ubaid and Uruk period where agriculture based on irrigation technology was introduced, used of fast- wheel- made pottery, invention of the plow, cultivation of fruit orchards, cattle rearing, rise of monumental architectures (temples, palaces and ziggurats), rise of city states, and the development of pictographic and cuneiform writing. Supreme authority rest on the priests and were buried in royal tombs. In Egypt, civilization occurred in the Nile River, which is good for a twice a year crop production.

In 3100 BC King Menes, who unite both the upper and lower kingdoms of Egypt, brought a rapid change from a loose organization of farming villages to a state. Aside from the Nile River, religion was also the unifying force in ancient Egyptian civilization. Political and religious organization became one where the Pharaoh (name of the ruler of Egypt) was regarded as a divine. They had a highly stratified society with nomes (the provinces with administrative officials) and vizier (prime ministers of the provinces). Famous ancient Egyptian structures are the pyramids where they bury their kings.

They also developed a hieroglyphic style of writing. On the other hand, Indus flourished around 2600 to 1900 BC. Archeologists had discovered that the Indus civilization had a characteristically good town planning with blocks of houses, drainage systems, toilets and baths, wells and masonry of burnt bricks. Aside from pottery, they also had an extensive use of copper and bronze for vessels and weapons. Seals of steatites were also discovered with writings and animals but the Indus script continues to be undeciphered. Supreme authority was unknown and they used cemeteries for burials (Study guide 2, 3-9).

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