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Hominid evolution - Essay Example

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Name Student identification Course Institution Date (all above optional – if you need them) Hominid Evolution: The Dominance of the Modern Hominid Two distinct strands of humans are recognizable in the more recent history of humanity as it exists today. It is acknowledged that one group, the Neanderthals, loved in Europe and the near-East from about 100 000 years ago…
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Hominid evolution
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Hominid evolution

Download file to see previous pages... This is not the earliest of human life, though. Fossils prove that human-like creatures have lived on the planet for millions of years. Thus the species that modern humans belong to has, in one form or another, been on earth for a very long time. One of the most important questions to be answered, then, is why it is only modern humans that have managed to survive on earth. Why did other examples die out, and why did only humans such as those living today thrive and dominate all the species on earth? In the case of the Neanderthals, particularly, it is not simple to explain why they became extinct. For 200 000 years they dominated among species on the European continent. Only 28 000 years ago the last populations of the Neanderthals died out in Gibraltar, the last settlement science has evidence of (Wong 2009: 134). Only modern-form humans then continued to exist on earth. Theories to explain this change in the population of earth range from climate change as the cause for this dying out, to theories of conquest of the Neanderthals by the moderns. Climate change may certainly have caused the Neanderthals to have to adapt continually to changing weather patterns and ecologies. This adaptation would have had to affect their hunting methods, their sources of shelter, and their sources of food. Wong (2009: 135) proposes that the climate change experienced in Europe during the time of the Neanderthals was not gradual over a long period of time. From about 65 000 years ago to about 25 000 years ago, the climate changed completely in continental Europe. The period began with mild and temperate conditions across the continent, and ended with Europe experiencing extreme cold, snow and ice year-round. Evidence shows that this did not happen gradually: it did not just get progressively colder over 40 000 years. Instead, the weather patterns and thus the environment would change completely in relatively short periods of time in one place. Plant and animal life could be completely replaced by new ecology within one Neanderthal’s lifetime, in one area. Therefore the Neanderthals would have to change their lifestyles completely in order to survive: hunting methods; where they lived; the kind of shelter they needed and their food sources. Everything may very well have changed completely without warning. Hence the populations of Neanderthals would reduce, and not have time to recover before the next major climate change. Eventually over generations this may have led to populations too small to sustain themselves in particular areas (Finlayson in Wong 2009: 135). It may additionally be that the migration of modern hominids into Europe and the near-East placed more pressure on available food resources. The Neanderthals, struggling to adapt to rapidly changing ecologies around them would have had further to compete for their traditional food sources with the newcomers. The movement of homo sapiens out of its African origin and gradually across the planet would certainly have had, then, some effect on the extinction of the Neanderthals. Living in Africa, modern hominids were taller and lighter than the Neanderthals. They needed less food to survive and function than the Neanderthals; they were hence adaptable; they used more sophisticated tools and hunting weaponry (Gugliotta 2008: 139). What explains their ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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