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Kristina SimonovicANT101Susan Smiley7 Aug 2018Essay 4There is much disagreement in anthropological and archeological studies on which specific characteristics define a fully human species. Many agree that language, art, religion, and symbolism are qualities that are unique to humans. The ability to use your mind artistically to express thoughts and emotions was an evolved trait only humans were seen to have. Through creating art, humans could communicate with each other on a deeper level through symbolism. Religion was also only seen in humans and played a huge role in unifying community. Accordingto the Podcast, “Born to Believe”, “On the whole, religious people, particularly in a small community sense of religion are much more committed to their community. And they behave better towards one another and to the world in general” (Born to Believe 2006). Through cooperation and living expressively in communities, humans were able to live longer and evolve quicker.Three molars and the tip of a pinky finger were found in the Denisova Cave and were identified as belonging to the Denisovan population. The Denisovans were alive about 80,000 years ago and inhabited Siberia and parts of Southeast Asia. Scientists are unsure what the Denisovans looked like due to the lack of fossils that have been recovered. The article “Who Were the Denisovans?” mentions, “As a result, “it remains unknown what the Denisovan looked like or how he behaved,” says biological anthropologist Maria Mednikova of the RAS in Moscow” (Gibbons 2011). The Denisovans were an artistically expressive species demonstratedthrough their cave paintings. They also made very advanced tools for their time. It is unknown when or how the Denisovans became extinct, as fossilized evidence is very scarce for this species. The Neanderthals lived in Eurasia about 1.8 million years ago and became extinct about 40,000 years ago because they were unable to evolve quickly enough with the changing climate of the last Ice Age. Unlike the Denisovans, there is a lot of fossilized evidence of the Neanderthals. The Neanderthals had slightly larger skulls than modern-day humans and a large brow ridge. While the Neanderthals do resemble some obvious differences from us, I believe them to be a fully human species. Neanderthals and modern-day humans were alive at the same time and were said to have interacted and possibly even interbred. As evolution continues to create species diversity, humans continue to acquire new traits through natural selection by gene mutation. For example, “The fifth and most common variant of the mutation that keeps the lactase gene turned on in adulthood is found today in human populations stretching from Ireland to India, with its highest frequencies across northern Europe” (Hawks 2014). Humans didn’t always have the enzyme required for digesting dairy, however, now most people do. In thousandsof years from now, the modern-day human will have changed again and again. The Neanderthals had the ability to cooperate, a little less so than modern-day humans, but they were known to have depended upon living together in small groups. They were also very skillful tool makers. The tools resembled sharp blade-like edges, much like modern-day humans. As well, there is evidence that Neanderthals had a developed Broca’s area in the brain, which proves they were capable of communicating by speaking a language to each other. Social and cognitive abilities are what make humans so advanced in comparison to other animals. The Neanderthals were artists demonstrated by the making of necklaces and bracelets. They also expressed themselvesmusically by making flutes out of animal bones. In addition, they shared the human cultural idea of symbolism with eagle talons and burial ceremonies. These traits which the Neanderthals possessed, are all characteristics specific to being fully human. REFERENCES Gibbons, A. 2011b Who Were the Denisovans? Science 333:1084-1087 Hawks, J. 2014 Still Evolving. Scientific American, September 86-91.New Scientist Podcast. 2006 Born to Believe. Accessed at ANT 101, Humankind Emerging. Online web course, Northern Arizona University, Fall 2014.NOVA. 2009 Becoming Human. Part 1. WGBH Boston. Video on http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/ becoming-human-part-1.htmlNOVA. 2009 Becoming Human. Part 2. WGBH Boston. Video on http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/ becoming-human-part-2.htmlNOVA. 2009 Becoming Human. Part 3. WGBH Boston. Video on http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/


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