The Human Odyssey From Biological To Cultural Evolution

1. Elisée Reclus, L'Homme et la terre, 6 vols (Paris: Paris: Librairie Universelle, 1905), vol. 1, p. i.

2. Julian Huxley, Evolution in Action (New York: Mentor Books, 1953).

3. The origins of life, probably some 4 billion years ago, involved a series of evolutionary processes ranging from prebiotic organic synthesis of inorganic chemicals (H2O; N2; CO2; NH3; [CH4]); to simple organic compounds (via energy from ultraviolet radiation and light); to simple organic compounds (via concentration and polymerization); to organic macromolecules, protocells, and finally living cells. After the first emergence of life on earth it took more than 3 billion years for creatures with differently specialized cells to begin appearing in the fossil record, whereupon there was a huge explosion of diversity (the "Cambrian Explosion," of around 500 million years ago).

4. The oldest fossil records to date are one 6 million-year-old creature found in Kenya called Orrion tungenensis and dubbed "Millennium Man." In 2001 a new subspecies of Aridipithecus, called Aridipicus ramidus kaddaba or Aridipus kaddaba and dating from 5.8 million to 5.2 million years ago, was found in Ethiopia by Yohannes Haile-Selassie. Molecular studies based on Haile-Selassie's find suggest that the lineages leading to humans and chimpanzees diverged approximately 6.5 million to 5.5 million years ago, in the Late Miocene. These fossils lack the primitive canines and specialized incisors and molars of all chimpanzees, and they look like other later hominids. See Yohannes Haile-Selassie, "Late Miocene Hominids from the Middle Awash, Ethiopia," Nature 412 (12 July) (2001).

5. It is not with human biology but with social organizational and institutional behavior that we (collectively) have a problem.

6. Humans, if the taxonomy is correct, are the fifth great ape, next to orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos, and it was only around 130,000 years ago that we reached "full" humanity. See Jared M. Diamond, The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1992), Richard W. Wrangham and Dale Peterson, Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1996), p. 29.

7. The genetic distance separating us frompygmy chimps (a mere 1.6 per cent) is barely double that separating pygmy from common chimps (0.7 per cent). It is less than that separating two species of gibbons (2.2 per cent). The remaining 98.4 per cent of human DNA is just normal chimp DNA. For example, human hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein that gives blood its red color, is identical in all of its 287 units with chimp hemoglobin. In this respect, as in most others, we are just a third species of chimpanzee, and what differentiates us from common and pygmy chimps - our upright posture, large brains, ability to speak, sparse body hair, and peculiar sexual lives - must be concentrated in a mere 1.6 per cent of our genetic program (Diamond, The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal, pp. 2, 23.)

8. Chimpanzees, like humans, show cultural diversity. Other endangered apes, too, such as gorillas and orangutans, show cultural diversity (as do whales and dolphins).

9. "Sex Für Frieden," Der Spiegel 30 (1993), p. 171, F.B.M. de Waal and Frans Lanting, Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997).

10. Humans, as paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould notes, are neotenous apes. In neoteny, rates of development slow down and juvenile stages of ancestors become the adult features of descendants. Many central features of our anatomy link us with fetal and juvenile stages of primates: small face, vaulted cranium and large brain in relation to body size, unrotated big toe, foramen magnum under the skull for correct orientation of the head in upright posture, primary distribution of hair on head, armpits, and pubic areas. In other mammals, exploration, play and flexibility of behavior are qualities of juveniles, only rarely of adults. Neoteny has been invoked as an explanation for many of the differences between humans and other apes. See Stephen J. Gould, The Mismeasure of Man (New York: W.W. Norton, 1981), p. 333, Stephen J. Gould, Ontogeny and Phylogeny (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1977), pp. 352-404.

11. Haile-Selassie, "Late Miocene Hominids from the Middle Awash, Ethiopia."

12. These earliest three known hominid ancestors were Aridipithecus ramidus kadabba, the oldest known possibly bipedal ape, represented by fossils from sites in Ethiopia; the better-known Australopithecus africanus, a small-brained upright walker from sites in northern Kenya; and Australopithecus afarensis, a small-brained, big-faced apelike species to which the famous "Lucy" belonged. See Ian Tattersall and Jeffrey H. Schwartz, Extinct Humans, 1st edn (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2000).

13. The 16 species of extinct humans include: (1) Aridipithecus ramidus, (2) Australopithecus anamnesis, (3) Australopithecus afarensis, (4) Australopithecus bahrelghazali, (5) Australopithecus aethiopecus, (6) Paranthropus boisei, (7) Paranthropus robustus, (8) Australopithecus africanus, (9) Australopithecus garhi, (10) Homo rudolfensis, (11) Homo habilis, (12) Homo ergastus, (13) Homo erectus, (14) Homo antecessor, (15) Homo heidelbergensis, and (16) Homo neanderthalensis. See ibid.

14. See Simon Robinson, "How Apes Became Human: One Giant Step for Mankind," Time (July 23) (Online, available: http://www.time.com/time/pacific/magazine/ 20010723/cover1.html) (2001), pp. 54-61.

15. That is why the gerenuk, a type of antelope, for example, evolved its long neck and stood on its hind legs, and why the giraffe evolved its long neck. There is strong pressure to be able to reach a wider range of levels. Ibid.

17. Richard Leakey and Roger Levin, Origins Reconsidered: In Search of What Makes Us Human (New York: Anchor Books, Doubleday, 1992), J.M. Roberts, The Penguin History of the World (London: Penguin Books, 1993).

18. Stephen M. Stanley, Children of the Ice Age: How a Global Catastrophe Allowed Humans to Evolve, 1st edn (New York: Harmony Books, 1996).

19. When accounting for the evolutionary journey of human evolution we should note that, going back 2 million years ago, East Africa was home not just to lions and leopards, but to saber-toothed cats, giant baboons, and wild pigs as big as buffaloes. Archaic humans hence then were not only rudimentary foragers and hunters but also the hunted and must have invested a good deal of effort in just trying to stay out of their way. This must have shaped the evolution of our species profoundly.

20. Its actual use as an axe seems unlikely, but the name is established.

21. Diamond, The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal, J.M. Roberts, History of the World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993).

22. Roberts, History of the World, pp. 11-13.

23. Alan Walker and Pat Shupman, The Wisdom of the Bones (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1996).

24. David Price, "Energy and Human Evolution," Population and Environment: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies 16(4) (March) (1995), pp. 301-19.

25. Stephen Vickers Boyden, Biohistory: The Interplay between Human Society and the Biosphere, vol. 8, Man and the Biosphere Series (Paris: UNESCO, Pantheon, 1992).

26. Roberts, History of the World.

28. Diamond, The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal, pp. 36-8.

Homo erectus spread across Asia and Europe, but became extinct everywhere except in Africa, where they continued to evolve. Eventually, a new and improved Homo sapiens swept once more out of Africa - this time to stay. See Chris Stringer and Robin McKie, African Exodus: The Origins of Modern Humanity, 1st American edn (New York: Henry Holt, 1997).

Ian Tattersall, The Last Neanderthal: The Rise, Success, and Mysterious Extinction, Rev. edn (Boulder, CO and Oxford: Westview Press, 1999).

If we believe that all life - in contrast to rocks and gases - shares a certain quality of sensitivity, or self-awareness, then Homo sapiens was an astonishing and wholly unpredictable leap forward in this respect, because human beings manifest an idea of personhood never before achieved. The exact moment of this discovery is of course problematic, as are most events in evolution, but I would date it from early summer about 60,000 years ago, when a group of Neanderthals living in present-day Iraq who lost one of their members dug a grave for him in the Shandidar Cave of the Zagros Mountain highlands, placed his body inside, and covered it with yarrow blossoms, cornflowers, hyacinths, and mallows.

Carson I.A. Ritchie, Food and Civilization: How History Has Been Affected by Human Taste (New York: Beaufort Books, 1981), p. 19, Ian Tattersall, The Human Odyssey: Four Million Years of Human Evolution, ed. American Museum for Natural History, Foreword by Donald Johanson (New York: Prentice Hall, 1993), p. 156. Ritchie, Food and Civilization: How History Has Been Affected by Human Taste pp. 16-17.

NB: Neanderthals walked upright and had brains some 10 per cent larger than those of anatomically modern human brains.

Tattersall, The Human Odyssey: Four Million Years of Human Evolution, p. 156. Forty thousand years ago anatomically modern humans in African decorated themselves with pearls made from ostrich egg shells, according to finds in Zaire. See "Siegeszug Aus Der Sackgasse: Neue Knochenfunde Vom Urmenschen Ünd Die Entstehung Des Homo Sapiens (3)," Der Spiegel 44 (1995), p. 145. Ian Tattersall, Becoming Human: Evolution and Human Uniqueness, 1st edn (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1998).

Der Spiegel, "Siegeszug Aus Der Sackgasse: Neue Knochenfunde Vom Urmenschen Ünd Die Entstehung Des Homo Sapiens (3)," and "Siegeszug Aus Der Sackgasse: Neue Knochenfunde Von Urmenschen Ünd Die Entstehung Des Homo Sapiens (2)," Der Spiegel 43 (1995).

Der Spiegel, "Siegeszug Aus Der Sackgasse: Neue Knochenfunde Von Urmenschen Ünd Die Entstehung Des Homo Sapiens (2)." NB: Australian Aborigine art is said to pre-date the beloved French gallery by ten millennia.

Oceanic islands, as defined here, are those surrounded by deep water beyond the continental shelf; they have remained separate from the continent even during marine regressions of the glacial age. See Diamond, The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal, p. 355.

By 1600 ce, world population had reached about half a billion, and it reached 6 billion in 2000 ce.

Diamond, The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal. Tim F. Flannery, Future Eaters: An Ecological History of the Australasian Lands and People (New York: George Braziller, 1995), pp. 100-1.

Circa 18,000 to 21,000 bce, Jean Clottes, "Rhinos and Lions and Bears (Oh My!)," Natural History 5 (1995). NB: The best-known documents of this period are the cave paintings as in Altamira, Spain, first discovered in 1879, and in Chauvet cave in the Rhone Valley of southern France. The "Leonardo da Vincis of the ice age"

produced perspectivist portrayals of animal hordes, hunting panoramas, careful working of stone walls, and three-dimensional models of horses and lions in the cave grotto of Chauvet. A wealth of animal and abstract images, some 300 counted so far, cascades across cave walls. Each of the most spectacular mammals of the ice age Rhone Valley is there: lions, woolly rhinos, mammoths, reindeer, horses, wild cattle, bears, ibexes, a leopard, and - most unusually - an owl. The Magdalenian paintings (c. 16,000-9,000 years ago) at Altamira, Spain, primarily focus on bison, which had at that time not yet been exterminated in Europe. We can infer that bison were important because of the hunt. They were hunted primarily for the food they provided, but also many other useful commodities like skin, bones, and fur could be extracted from the remains of such a large animal. The ceiling painting is of 15 large bison with a few interspersed animals including a horse. The groups of animals portrayed, particularly those on the walls such as bison, deer, wild boar, and other combinations, do not normally aggregate in nature. These pictures are of the animals only, and contain no landscape or horizontal base. See Bryant, "Extinction and Depletion from Over-Exploitation," also Flannery, Future Eaters: An Ecological History of the Australasian Lands and People, p. 136.

46. Ritchie, Food and Civilization: How History Has Been Affected by Human Taste, p. 19.

47. A "fish gorge" is a kind of fish trap. Dead falls are places where big game hunters stampeded horses, bison, or other game over a cliff. Blals are specialized hunting tools such as the instrument that shoots blow darts.

48. In 1989, Russian geologist Sergei Barteman discovered mammoth tusks littered on Range Island, an isolated island between Alaska and Siberia. Barteman found that mammoths survived there until less than 4,000 years ago, several centuries after the building of the pyramids. Mammoths survived there for many thousands of years longer than anywhere else - 7,000 years longer than on the North American mainland, for example, due to the island's isolation and to protection from human predation resulting from sea level change. However, having eluded extinction in isolation at least for that time period, they evolved into a dwarfvariety some 4 feet tall (approximately 1.5 meters, or only one-third their original size). See the production by BBC-TV, NOVA, Mammoths of the Ice Age (Video), A Nova Production by BBC-TV in Association with WGBH Educational Foundation (South Burlington and Boston: BBC-TV and WGBH, 1995).

49. Bryant, "Extinction and Depletion from Over-Exploitation."

50. Paul S. Martin and Richard G. Klein, eds, Quartenary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1984), Neil Roberts, The Holocene: An Environmental History (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1992), p. 59.

51. Ritchie, Food and Civilization: How History Has Been Affected by Human Taste, pp. 19-20.

52. Brian M. Fagan, Ancient North America: The Archeology of a Continent (London: Thames and Hudson, 1991), pp. 126-36.

53. Diamond, The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal, Flannery, The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples, Flannery, Future Eaters: An Ecological History of the Australasian Lands and People, Martin and Klein, eds, Quartenary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution, Peter Douglas Ward, The Call of Distant Mammoths: Why the Ice Age Mammals Disappeared (New York: Copernicus, 1997), Ward, Rivers in Time: The Search for Clues to Earth's Mass Extinctions.

54. Of all mammal genera whose members exceed 44 kg in average adult body weight, Europe has lost only 29 per cent of those living there some 200,000 years ago. This is truly remarkable when one considers how altered most European landscapes are.

It stands in stark contrast with the loss of 94 per cent of such animals in Australia. See Bryant, "Extinction and Depletion from Over-Exploitation," also Flannery, Future Eaters: An Ecological History of the Australasian Lands and People, pp. 136, 308.

55. Bryant, "Extinction and Depletion from Over-Exploitation."

56. Flannery, Future Eaters: An Ecological History of the Australasian Lands and People, p. 185.

57. Madhav Gadgil and Ramachandra Guha, The Fissured Land: An Ecological History of India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 73.

58. Bryant, "Extinction and Depletion from Over-Exploitation."

59. Today, we regard Africa as the continent of big mammals. Modern Eurasia also has many species of big mammals (though not in the manifest abundance of Africa's Serengeti Plain) such as Asia's rhinos and elephants and tigers, and Europe's moose and bears and (until classical times) lions. Australia/New Guinea today has no equally large mammals - in fact no mammal larger than 100-pound kangaroos. But Australia/New Guinea formerly had its own suite of diverse big mammals, including giant kangaroos, rhino-like marsupials called diprotodonts that reached the size of a cow, and a marsupial "leopard." It also had a 400-pound ostrich-like flightless bird, plus some impressively big reptiles, including a 1 ton lizard, a giant python, and land-dwelling crocodiles. All of those Australian and New Guinean giants (the so-called megafauna) disappeared after the arrival of humans. See, Jared M. Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (New York: W.W. Norton , 1997), Flannery, Future Eaters: An Ecological History of the Australasian Lands and People, Martin and Klein, eds, Quartenary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution.

60. Gifford H. Miller et al., "Pleistocene Extinction of GenyornisNewtoni:Human Impact on Australian Megafauna," Science 283 (January 8) (1999).

61. Arriving in a land which had never seen hominids before, and where animals had no innate fear of humans, Flannery suggests, early humans must have felt or become, in a sense, like gods. Their impact in Australia, according to Flannery, was enormous, for they proceeded to kill all mammals larger than themselves, including the above-mentioned rhino-sized wombat, the enormous horned turtle, the razor-toothed marsupial lion, and the giant rat-kangaroo; see Tim Flannery, 'The Future Eaters' (interview) Geographical Magazine 69(1) (January) (1997), p. 26. The only species to survive were the quickest and the smallest - kangaroos, wallabies, koala bears, and wombats. Ninety-five per cent of all its large mammals were lost between 40,000 and 60,000 years ago. See Flannery, Future Eaters: An Ecological History of the Australasian Lands and People, Martin and Klein, eds, Quartenary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution.

62. All twelve original species of moa, Aotearoa's largest bird species, are now extinct. All of these extinctions occurred within less than 500 years of Maori colonization and settlement; hence the popular song from Aotearoa: "No moa, no moa, In Old Ao-tea-roa. Can't get 'em. They've et 'em; They've gone and there ain't no moa!" These largest species were members of the family Diornithea, which included three very tall and graceful species that occurred on both the North and the South Island. With its neck outstretched, the largest moa would have reached over 3.5 meters high, towering twice as high as a man, and weighed up to 250 kilograms. The moa belonged to a very ancient group of birds known as ratites, now restricted to the southern continents, with the ostrich in Africa, the emu and cassowary in Australia/New Guinea, the rhea in South America, and the kiwi in New Zealand. Thus everything points to their being yet another group of Gondwanan origin.

63. Atholl Anderson, "Prehistoric Polynesian Impact on the New Zealand Environment," in Historical Ecology in the Pacific Islands: Prehistoric Environmental and Landscape Changes, ed. Patrick V. Kirk and Terry L. Hunt (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997), Ian K. Bradbury, The Biosphere (New York: Belhaven Press, 1991), p. 186, Richard Cassels, "The Role of Prehistoric Man in the Faunal Extinctions of New Zealand and Other Pacific Islands," in Martin and Klein, eds, Quartenary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution.

64. Bryant, "Extinction and Depletion from Over-Exploitation." NB: Some archaeologists have argued that South America may have been settled as early as 30,000 to 40,000 years ago, but there is as yet no conclusive evidence or widely accepted confirmation of this thesis.

65. Paul S. Martin, "Pleistocene Overkill," Natural History 76 (1967), Martin and Klein, eds, Quartenary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution. Bryant, "Extinction and Depletion from Over-Exploitation.", Martin and Klein, eds, Quartenary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution, Roberts, The Holocene: An Environmental History.

66. Bryant, "Extinction and Depletion from Over-Exploitation", Martin and Klein, eds, Quartenery Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution, Roberts, The Holocene: An Environmental History.

67. Bryant, "Extinction and Depletion from Over-Exploitation,"

68. Cassels, "The Role of Prehistoric Man in the Faunal Extinctions of New Zealand and Other Pacific Islands," Diamond, The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal, p. 356, Ward, The End of Evolution: A Journey in Search of Clues to the Third Mass Extinction Facing the Planet Earth, Wilson, The Diversity of Life.

69. Studies of fossil birds of Hawai'i and the South Pacific by Smithsonian biologist Storrs Olson have uncovered "one of the swiftest and most profound biological catastrophes in the history of the world." It was not, as one might think, caused by the arrival of Europeans with guns. By the time Captain Cook passed through in the eighteenth century, around 80 per cent of all of the species of birds of the region had already been wiped out. In Hawai'i, fossils of more than 50 species of birds that are today extinct have been unearthed. As the Polynesians spread throughout the region centuries before, they brought with them dogs, pigs, and rats (a particularly large ecological jolt for islands such as Hawai'i that had no native mammals other than bats) that raided the nests of ground-dwelling birds. The Polynesians cleared land for farming. They hunted. They brought domestic chickens that may have spread diseases such as avian malaria. Wherever Polynesian artifacts appear in the archaeological record, a whole range of birds, including parrots, pigeons, and flightless geese, simultaneously vanish. Some of these species survive on a few remote islands, but others live on only in the legends of the islanders, who have names for birds they have never seen; their descriptions of these legendary birds precisely match the fossil birds that archaeologists have unearthed. See Patrick V. Kirk and Terry L. Hunt, eds, Historical Ecology in the Pacific Islands: Prehistoric Environmental and Landscape Changes, Based on Papers Presented at the XVIIth Pacific Science Congress Held in Honolulu in 1991 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997), S.L. Olson, "Extinction on Islands: Man as a Catastrophe," in Conservation for the Twenty-First Century, ed. D. Western and M. Pearl (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), Storrs L. Olson and Helen F. James, "The Role of Polynesians in the Extinction of the Avifauna of the Hawaiian Islands," in Martin and Klein, eds, Quartenary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution.

70. Jared M. Diamond, "Paleontology: Twilight of the Pygmy Hippo," Nature359(6390) (September) (1991), Magazine Discover, "Early Sailors Hunted Pygmy Hippo to Extinction," Discover March (1993), Ross McPhee, "Digging Cuba: The Lessons of the Bones," Natural History 106(11) (Dec.-Jan.) (1997), Diane Pinkadella, "Were Pygmy Hippos Hunted to Extinction?," Earth 2(3) (1993).

In Jamaica a native monkey may have survived as late as the eighteenth century.

See McPhee, "Digging Cuba: The Lessons of the Bones."

Ibid.

Jared Diamond was one of the first to question whether we have not possibly overlooked minifauna extinctions. For example he comments on the enormous differences in archaeological visibility of the early human impact or "blitzkrieg." Diamond raised the question of size-related sample biases and questioned whether the samples of the fossil minifauna are rich enough to judge whether it suffered extinctions comparable to those of the megafauna. Paul Martin (in Martin and Klein, Quaternary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution, p. 355) affirmatively noted that extinctions of interest within the last 100,000 years were not limited to large mammals. The disappearance of a large number of genera of small birds and mammals on oceanic islands during the Holocene is one case in point. See Jared M. Diamond, "Historic Extinctions: A Rosetta Stone for Understanding Prehistoric Extinctions," in Martin and Klein, eds, Quatenary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution, p. 856. See also Olson, "Extinction on Islands: Man as a Catastrophe," Olson and James, "The Role of Polynesians in the Extinction of the Avifauna of the Hawaiian Islands."

Flannery, Future Eaters: An Ecological History of the Australasian Lands and People, p. 115, Paul S. Martin, "The Discovery of America," Science 179 (1973), pp. 969-74.

Diamond, The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal, p. 45. See Derek Bickerton, Language and Species (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990).

Diamond, The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal, p. 54. Ibid., p. 56. Ibid., p. 141.

Bickerton, Language and Species, p. 240.

Stephen Edelston Toulmin, "Back to Nature," New York Review of Books 9 June (1977), p. 4 (cited in Gould, The Mismeasure of Man, p. 325). Gould, The Mismeasure of Man, p. 324. Ibid., pp. 325-6.

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