This website presents the details of anthropology under a totally new light – a human light. Human evolution is the story of humanity, not the story of apes who acted like humans but were too stupid to be accorded the status of full humans. What the facts of archaeology point to is that humans have been human from the beginning.
- The human line from its initiation was separate to apes. There never was a half-human half-ape. The body tissues of chimpanzees and humans may be 98% genetically similar, but humans have human traits over and above those of apes. The human form was fully formed from the first man and woman to possess this form.
2. Human traits characterize all human beings. They include the following physical traits:
- They walk upright due to the characteristics of the pelvis, spine and feet.
- They have hands with opposable thumbs so they can manipulate instruments and make tools.
- Humans have skin and sweat glands for keeping cool.
- All humans have possessed language: this requires a language area of the brain called Broca’s Area, vocal cords, tongue to form sounds, and chest, mouth and nose as resonating chambers to produce the voice.
- The human brain was always bigger than that of apes of the same size. Cranial capacity has increased with stature, body width (for giving birth) and with thinner skull bones. (Note that known individuals with brain sizes only one third of the modern average size still used language).
In addition to physical traits humans have belief, a sense of past, present and future, a spiritual life and culture that is passed on through language. Humans possess a sense of right and wrong, and make moral judgments.
3. All humans have belonged to a culture – a way of life practised by a group and passed on by language to their children and to other groups.
Human culture has seen a steady increase in complexity over 3.6 million years. Techniques for making stone tools advanced over 2 million years allowing for new hunting methods. You can pick out cultural stages long before ‘Homo sapiens’ came on the scene.
The society we live in now is extremely complex, and other societies may seem very primitive in comparison, but there has never been a sub-human level of human culture. Mankind has always used invention to overcome the practical problems of life, and to develop new ways of life.
4. It is human culture that drove human evolution. The physical body of humans has changed as an adaptation to new life styles. Animals adapt to new natural environments, but mankind adapts to life styles of his own invention.
Thus, technology affects human physique. For example, the jaw became reduced when humans started to eat cooked food. A move from a nomadic life style to a sedentary life style is also written in the strength of the bones.
5. Archaeological sites contain the artefacts of human occupation. This record is generally limited to stone tools, fossilized human or animal bones, evidence of fire and some teeth. Closer analysis may reveal plant pollens. More recent sites may have evidence of houses marked by post holes. Very occasionally human sites in marshland have left the impressions of wooden artefacts and other perishable materials.
What we must remember is that the artefacts that have survived thousands of years in the ground or buried within caves represent a very small sample of what once existed. Most objects of human life are perishable and barely last out our own life times.
Therefore, lack of artefacts does not equate with lack of intelligence or deficiency in the ability to invent things. Many tools in prehistory were made of wood or bamboo which simply leave no fossil evidence.
6. The man-ape is a myth and something that has never actually existed.
Every human has been a person with a sense of self. Every person has had a name and known who they were. Cave art appeared in Europe 35 000 years ago. This is not the first indication of religious belief nor of art. Previous expressions of religion and art were just not preserved in caves – often art was painted onto the human body rather than on the wall of a cave.
It was thought that Homo sapiens – humans capable of knowing things – arose only 40 000 years ago in Ice Age Europe. Homo sapiens fossils were then found in Israel dating to 100 000 years. After that theories appeared putting the date for Homo sapiens to come out of Africa at 200 000 years. I believe that all forms of mankind have been ‘sapiens.’ Thus, Homo sapiens first came out of Africa 2 million years ago when Homo erectus (renamed Homo ignis) migrated to Asia.
It is ok to give prehistoric forms of mankind labels – so you know what or who you are referring to – but it is no more right to deny the humanity of prehistoric peoples as it would be to deny the humanity of primitive tribes in other parts of the world alive today, or at least alive until recently. In our society we have all learnt that we can embrace difference as simply a different expression of humanity.
Let’s now do for chronological subspecies of humans what has been done for geographic races of humans. It’s time for recognition of equality for prehistoric humans.
The ink drawings, pencil drawings and pastels on this website have been done by the author. The drawings of prehistoric people are an attempt to convert anthropological theory and description into a visual image. I have also used fossil skulls as a guide to the proportions of the face.