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Kristina SimonovicANT101Susan Smiley07 Aug 2018Synthesis EssayAnthropological studies explain the biological history of how life on Earth has changed throughout its existence. It describes how humans have evolved to become the dominant species, as this wasn’t always the case in our history. This study of culture allows us to better understand humans and where we came from as a species. It allows us to study our ancestors as well as the life that occurred before us, which contributes greatly to what we know about thisplanet. This course covered the spectrum of human evolution throughout our history. Part 1 of this course focuses on defining evolution as a change in physical traits in populations over time due to natural selection. This change happens through genetic mutation and is catalyzed by the need to adapt to the always changing environment. Many people choose to disbelieve the theory due to their religious beliefs. Evolution does not discredit religion and is an idea that can coexist with the belief of God, however many people fail to accept evolution as a theory or fact, even though it is both of those things. Part 2 discusses the classification of genus and species byBinomial Taxonomy established by Carl Linnaeus, placing humans and apes in same category. This part introduces the primates- lemurs, monkeys, and apes and the similarities and differences to humans. Humans share the most characteristics and genetic similarities with apes(chimpanzees and bonobos), including bipedal and upright locomotion, the way mother’s carefor their young, ability to learn and teach new skills, and the manufacturing of efficient tools used for hunting. Differences include apes’ inability to cooperate outside of small groups and their inability to communicate with a spoken language. Part 3 dives further into the three genera of hominins including Pre-Australopithicines, Australopithecus, Homo. It talks about major archeological discoveries of Australopithicines like Lucy and Ardi, which were major contributions in what we know about our relationships with our ancestors. Part 4 describes characteristics that are uniquely human. Among these characteristics are art, religion, symbolism, and language. This part of the course talks about modern-day humans’ direct ancestors and the qualities that we share with those closely related human species, such as the Neanderthals and Denisovans. The expression of art, religion, symbolism and language was seento exist far longer than modern-day humans connecting us to direct ancestors. This course has furthered my understanding of what evolution is. One thing this course brought to my attention is the common misconception of the idea that humans descended fromapes. Before taking this course, that too was my understanding of human evolution. I now understand that we share a common ancestor with apes. In addition, I was surprised to learn that evolution doesn’t always mean inheriting “better” traits. For example, Sickle Cell Anemia was the product of a gene mutation in order to form resistance against malaria. Furthermore, it shocked me to find out the close similarities in culture that we share with our more recent ancestors, such as religion and ceremonial burials, as well as symbolism of custom jewelry or artsculptures. Finally, this course gave me some insight and perspective on where I’ve come from as a species and it was interesting and valuable information to

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