Evolution began with four men that
discovered certain factors contributing to how one may have evolved. For
instance, Lamarck (1744-1829) uncovered the “inheritance of acquired
characteristics” and he also made a model which depicted how the change in food
source led to development of greater stature in individuals and then future generations
were born with increased stature (Davis January 16, 2018). Another man, Charles
Darwin (1809-1882), founded natural selection and his model brought to
attention that environmental change selects for differential reproduction of
taller giraffes within variable population and then the selection continues. Later,
Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) proposed three foundational principles of inheritance
which helped us understand how traits are inherited through one’s genes (cite).

Mendel used peas because it was easier to control their fertilization and for a
flower for it to “self-fertilize.” (cite). Lastly, De Vries (1848-1935)
discovered mutations which was mainly the spontaneous change in genetic code.

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(cite)

There are many similarities between
humans (Homo sapiens) and other primates and our fossil human ancestors, as
well as differences in anatomical and behavioral characteristics. The
anatomical characteristics that make us human compared with other primates is
that we have grasping hands and feet, consist of forward-facing eyes, have a
relatively larger brain, bipedal and rotating forearm (Davis January 18, 2018).

In addition to those characteristics primates also have nails. Also, some
similarities in both species’ behavioral characteristics are we walk upright on
two legs and we are very vocal and communicative when it comes to socialization
with other primates in a specific group (add cite). All primates are some type
of tree-dwellers (arboreal), which allow them to climb trees and these include:
a rotating shoulder joint, separated big toes, a thumb to grasp onto anything,
and stereoscopic vision. Primates also have claws which slowly evolved into flattened
nails (add cite).

            Non-primates differ from primates in
anatomical characteristics such as having relatively smaller brains than
primates, although some non-primates are intelligent; for example, pigs have
problem-solving abilities (add cite). Non-primates mainly rely on smell, as for
primates they rely mainly on vision. Non-primates lack a clavicle and primates possess
a clavicle. Some non-primates have limbs for locomotion, but as for primates,
they have dexterous limbs which are having skill especially with hands as I had
mentioned before (add cite). Some behavioral characteristics are, non-primates are
seasonal breeders since they copulate only during favorable seasons. As for
primates, they are continuous breeders as they mate in every season.

Non-primate females have an oestrous cycle and primate females have a menstrual
cycle (add cite).

            The earliest documented Homo is Homo
habilis, approximately evolved 2.8 million years ago, this species used stone
tools (cite), also known as the “handyman” (cite). Homo habilis was proposed to
move into Australopithecus africanus according to its skeleton morphology, as
they were being more adapted to living in the trees, rather than walking on two
legs like Homo sapiens. Homo habilis is related to homo sapiens in that they
were the lineage to evolve the later species. Homo rudolfensis which evolved
after homo habilis approximately 1.9-1.8 million years ago, shows an incomplete
skull from Kenya and scientists presume the outcome is that of the species Homo
habilis, but they are not sure yet if it is true (cite). The Homo habilis and
rudolfensis are not known to be close to the Homo sapiens due to their
behavioral characteristics. The homo rudolfensis is related to homo sapiens in
that they had a large cranial capacity which was an anatomical characteristic that
joined both species. Homo erectus and Homo ergaster were later discovered in
Africa and were believed to be the first to use fire and complex tools and were
first to leave Africa, as they fled Africa eventually spread throughout Asia
and Europe between 1.3 to 1.8 million years ago (cite). The evolution of the foramen
magnum and the locking of knees were thought to be the reason for larger
population changes (cite). “Peking Man” was is an example of Homo erectus, it
was discovered in China; many anthropologists use Homo ergaster as the term for
non-Asian groups (cite). Homo erectus related to Homo sapiens in that their anatomical
and behavioral characteristics changed by having relatively long legs and
shorter arms (just like humans) which helped them to walk long distances and
even run.

About 700,000-200,000 B.P, another
species evolved known as Homo heidelbergensis, they were considered to have
been descended from modern humans. The homo heidelbergensis population that did
not migrate and stayed in Africa are known to have evolved into modern humans
(cite). Homo heidelbergensis had a very large brow ridge, a flatter face, and a
larger brain relative to any older early human species. The average height for
males was 5 feet 9 inches and weight for males was 136 pounds (cite) which is
very near to human average weight and height. It was the first species to also
live in colder climates and built shelters out of wood and rock (cite). They used
fire-altered tools and burnt wood at a site in Israel. Homo heidelbergensis was
also the first hunter of large animals, such as, deer, horses, etc. This
species relates to Homo sapiens in that they can handle cold weather by how
their bodies were built in order to conserve heat. It also lived at the time of
the use of spears and hunting relatively large animals (cite).

            Homo neandertalensis 400,000-40,000
B.P was the most recent species to Homo sapiens, they lived in Europe and Asia
to about 28,000 years ago. There are some anatomical differences between
Neanderthals and modern human such as, being less inclined to losing body heat
and adaptation to severe cold environments. Neanderthals also had large brains
like modern humans and they had better visual acuity than the modern humans. They
seemed to be more physically superior to modern human populations. Although there
are these few differences, Neanderthals did interbreed with anatomically modern
humans who migrated from Africa to different parts of the world like Europe and
Asia. With larger populations, social and technological innovations made it a
bit easier to fix in human populations (cite). These species related to homo
sapiens by their anatomical characteristics being human like, for example
angled cheek bones, huge nose for humidifying dry air, and bodies were shorter more
so proportional. Their behavioral characteristics were that they lived in
shelters, made and wore clothing, were skilled hunters of large animals, and also
ate plant foods (veganism). These species are the first to have buried its dead
and occasionally marked their graves with flowers or other offerings; no other
orimate or earlier human species had ever done this type of behavior before
(cite).

What has interested me the most
about being human thus far is mainly how we evolved from a species that
represents ape like features to what we are now. The tools that were used by
these different species during an era so long ago also has interested me
because it’s enlightening to know how all of this occurred. I was surprised to
find out about how Neanderthals were the closest homo genus to modern humans and
how differently they did certain things as to opposed how we would do it now in
this modern era. The amount of similar characteristics that we had between
other primate species was also very surprising and interesting. I was also
surprised by the characteristics that were similar and different in primates
and non-primates. It really interested me to learn about so much information
that had to be collected in order to gather all this data and find a species
that was known to be evolved as a modern human (homo sapien).

            So, what does it mean to be human? This
means that one has the anatomical and behavioral characteristics to create
connections around you with other people and creatures. It means being made up
of so many other primates. Also, being created into a human with the
intellectual abilities and physical abilities to do or be anything we desire and
function in a way that is our own species. We are a creature that is intelligent
and advanced enough that we observe ourselves in any condition given. Being human
also means having social experience just like the other species did within
their primate group.