Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Describe the different ways humans adapt to their environment and give examples. How do biological adaptations differ from cultural adaptations? How have both types of adaptations cont | Wridemy

Describe the different ways humans adapt to their environment and give examples. How do biological adaptations differ from cultural adaptations? How have both types of adaptations cont

In a post of at least 250 words, describe the different ways humans adapt to their environment and give examples. How do biological adaptations differ from cultural adaptations? How have both types of adaptations contributed to our success as a species?

Module 4

Hominin Evolution


When it Happened

30 million years ago – New World Monkeys and Old World monkeys diverged

Same time Old World Monkeys and Apes diverged

5-8 million years ago humans and apes diverged

Where it happened

Why it Happened

Anthropoid ancestors were still tree dwellers

20 m.y.a, climate became drier; forests contracted; grassland habitat increased

Monkeys new world: 1) volcanic islands connecting south America and south Africa, 2) rafting


How are we similar to Apes?

Forward facing eyes

No tails

Long gestation and dependency

Dental arrangement


What makes us Human?

Bipedal Locomotion

Big Brains

Use of tools


Elephants 650 days gestation; cats and dogs 60 days, monkeys around 160, apes around 190, humans 280; chimps 240; 257

Estimates should that gestation would have to be around 21 months for humans to give birth to a baby with the neurological and cognitive skill of a chimp

Other Animals

Vancouver island lizard, jerboa rodent of Arabic north Africa deserts, kangroos, birds

Locomotive Differences

By comparison to apes, humans have:

a foramen magnum that points down

a curved lumbar spine

a short, flared (versus long and thin) ilium

a strong, robust talus (ankle bone)

a strong, non-opposable big toe

a complex arch system in the foot


Humans have a curved lumbar spine

Humans have a downward pointing foramen magnum

Locomotive Differences

Spinal column



Humans have a short and flared ilium versus the long and thin ilium in apes






Humans have an angled knee joint, apes have much less of an angle

Knee Comparisons


Humans have smaller brow ridges, no post-orbital constriction

Larger brains (Humans: 1200 cc., Gorillas: 475 cc)

Human versus Gorilla cranial differences

Humans have flatter faces, no sagittal crest


Humans have small incisors, large molars

Humans have parabolic dental arcade, Apes have U-shaped

Humans have relatively thick molar enamel

Humans have bicuspid lower premolars, not sectorial

Humans have smaller canines

Upper Diastema or gap between canine and premolar


Bovine Teeth

Major Evolutionary Trends in Hominid Evolution


Brain Size

Jaw Shape

Prognathic jaws

Flatter face with more pronounced chins

Reduced canines and diastema

Increasing reliance on tools

Australopithecus afarensis East Africa

~ 3-4 million years

Ape-like face with small brain

Bipedal with long arms

Scavengers not hunters

Highly sexually dimorphic

Within the range of a chimp, ¼ of modern humans

Most human like primate at that time – direct ancestors to homo sapiens?


3’6” tall 60 lb

New date – 2.9 mya

Laetoli footprints

3.6 million year old volcanic tuff

Bipedal footprints of 2 or 3 hominids

Hyenas, wild cats, baboons, wild boar, giraffes, gazelles, rhinos, several kinds of antelope, buffalo, elephants, hare, birds, and rainprints


Homo habilis

2.3-1.6 million years ago

Bigger brain

Less facial protrusion

No sagittal crest

Smaller molars and premolars

Weighted ~90 lbs, still a scavenger


Homo habilis

In 196 a more advanced ancestor skull was found—a much bigger brain. Homo habilis or “handy man.” How did Homo habilis live? In the man the hunter film, contemporary society was used as a model. It was absurd, why? Because it focused only on male activity. There was a shift to man as an intelligent hunter, not a vicious killer.

Hunting as a tempting explanation for how we became human. Where they really hunters? Homo habilis was only 90 pounds. He was a little guy, not likely to be a hunter.

There was a cluster of animal bones and tools found around an ancient lake front. But Louis Binford asked: Would our ancestors really have set up camp on the waterfront, where all of the predators came to drink? So how are the clusters of stones and bones explained? Collecting bones—scavenging! And processing bones. Scavenging is very different from hunting! Why supplement veg diet with meat from scavenging? Scavenging experiment in dry season.

After stone tools came there was a change in appearance in bone assembleges. Was there then a behavioral change at the time that stone tools evolved? Climate change provided new challenges and opportunities. Herded animals became more abundant but hunting dogs were also around at this time. Living in an environment with lions too—intelligence becomes key. Need calories to keep that big brain working=scavenging for meat.

Homo erectus/ergaster

2m – 300k year ago (Longest Hominin)

India, China, Java

Bigger Brain (75% modern humans)

Flatter Face; smaller canines

Taller (Modern Proportions – Barrel Chest)

Stone technology – Acheulian

Cooperative Hunters

New Technologies

Use of Fire

Decrease mortality, enter into colder climates, protect from predators, and defrost/tenderize food, kill parasites


Explore new areas


Approx. 200,000 – 50,000 /30,000

Big Brains

Rock shelters in Europe, west and central Asia

More robust bodies

Massive brow ridges with protruding nose and jaw

Heavily muscled

Variety of stone tools (Mousterian)

A hyoid bone discovered indicates that language was possible

Evidence to support burial their dead – grave goods and pollen

Homo neandertalensis

Hey, What Happened?

Extinct 40,000 years

New research suggests lack of clothing other than primitive caps

Competition with humans


Parasites and pathogens

Division of labor

The fossil record does not show simply a progression of species leading to a modern species

Instead, more like a branching tree with many “transitional” forms between early and modern species

H. Florensis

Anatomically Modern Homo Sapiens (AMHS)

Earliest AMHS fossils 190,000 years old (Africa)

Cranial Capacity = 1,000 – 2,000 cc

Europe and Australia much later 50,000-35,000 years ago

Today there are more than 6 billion Homo sapiens

When the bones of two early humans were found in 1967 near Kibish, Ethiopia, they were thought to be 130,000 years old. A few years ago, researchers found 154,000- to 160,000-year-old human bones at Herto, Ethiopia. Now, a new study of the 1967 fossil site indicates the earliest known members of our species, Homo sapiens, roamed Africa about 195,000 years ago

A 195,000 year old fossil from the Omo 1 site in Ethiopia shows the beginnings of the skull changes that we associate with modern people, including a rounded skull case and possibly a projecting chin. 


Modern Human Migration


Environmental changes lead to first human characteristic – Bipedalism

After bipedalism, increasing brain size, less prognathism, and tools

These changes are recognizable in fossil record

Start as scavengers but become hunters

Modern humans evolved in Africa 200,000+ years ago and spread throughout the rest of the world
















































Module 4

Human Adaptation


Midterm Exam

50 Multiple choice, true/false, and/or matching questions

Covers lectures, videos, and textbook chapters assigned since first day of class

50 minutes to complete


Human Adaptation

Human face same adaptive challenges as all other organisms

In addition to biological adaptations, humans also have culture to increase adaptation

Culture has a biological basis: rewards sociability and inventiveness

Because of culture, people have adapted to almost all of the earth’s terrestrial habitats

Eastern Siberia (-80 F°)

Eastern Siberia -62 C (-80 F)

Dallol Africa, Ethopodia = 120 F average yearly 94


Dallol, Ethiopia (120 F°)

Adaptations and Adaptability

Humans have biological plasticity, or ability to adapt to environment

An adaptation is any variation that can increase successful interaction of a population with its environment

Adaptations may be biological or cultural in nature

Biological Adaptation


Developmental Acclimatization


Vary in their length of time (from minutes to generations)

Depends on the severity and duration of stressors 


These adaptations can take seconds to weeks to occur and are reversible within an individual’s lifetime



Cultural adaptations: sunscreen and coats

Developmental Acclimatization

Occurs during an individual’s growth and development

Cannot take place once the individual is fully grown “magic time window”

High altitude

Intentional body deformation

Maya elite reshaped the skull

Foot binding in China

Neck stretching in Thailand


Genetic Adaptations

Genetic adaptations can occur when a stressor is constant and lasts for many generations

Genetic adaptations are environmentally specific: a particular gene may be advantageous to have in one environment, and detrimental in another

Sickle cell: Malaria adaptations

Skin color: UV radiation

Body size and shape: extreme temperatures


Fight or Flight Response

In bedroom battle, man kills buck with his bare hands

(BENTONVILLE, Ark.) — It looked like a crime scene, but no charges will be filed after Wayne Goldsberry killed a five-point buck with his bare hands in his daughter's bedroom.

After an exhausting 40 minutes struggle , Goldsberry finally was able to grip the animal and twist its neck, killing it

Goldsberry, sore from the struggle, dragged the dead animal out of the house.

Benton County Sheriff Keith Ferguson said that when he arrived he found the deer dead in the front yard. Goldsberry intended to have the deer processed for its meat.

-November 2005-

Badass of

the Year

The Fight or Flight Syndrome: An Adaptation to Threat of Harm

Escaping a predator means mobilizing the bodies’ defenses: increasing alertness and energy

Once the threat is over, body returns to normal

Same mobilization of defenses in response to threat as our Paleolithic ancestors

HOWEVER: we developed a new way of adapting –

— Culture —

These include the following:[4]

Acceleration of heart and lung action

Paling or flushing, or alternating between both

Inhibition of stomach and upper-intestinal action to the point where digestion slows down or stops

General effect on the sphincters of the body

Constriction of blood vessels in many parts of the body

Liberation of nutrients (particularly fat and glucose) for muscular action

Dilation of blood vessels for muscles

Inhibition of the lacrimal gland (responsible for tear production) and salivation

Dilation of pupil (mydriasis)

Relaxation of bladder

Inhibition of erection

Auditory exclusion (loss of hearing)

Tunnel vision (loss of peripheral vision)

Disinhibition of spinal reflexes



Cultural Adaptations

Cultural adaptations can occur at any time and may be as simple as putting on a coat when it is cold or as complicated as engineering, building, and installing a heating system in a building

Culture as an Adaptation

Culture helps us adapt to our environment

Symbolic communication

Social organization

Increasing Cultural Complexity

Societies have become increasingly complex

But genetically, we still have Paleolithic bodies

Coping with the modern world– in our Paleolithic bodies–has many effects

Culture and Individual Adaptation

Culture as the environment

As culture becomes more complex, we have to adapt to it

Biological responses that can be adaptive when faced by a physical threat may be maladaptive—or stressful—in the face of symbolic threat




Mashco-Piro Indians

Sources of Stress in the Modern World

Stress is not purely psychological

Instead, revolves around culturally-defined social expectations

Loss of status through failure to achieve social expectations can elicit the same biological response as a threat to our physical well-being


Protective effects of the social environment

‘Modernization’ or ‘globalization’ has led to rapidly changing expectations

At the same time, as in Paleolithic times, sources of help and support in the social environment can moderate the impact of stress

Studying Sociocultural Change and Stress

Two major approaches

Studying migrants to more complex societies

Studying people caught in a process of change

How to measure the impact of adaptation

Blood pressure

Relatively easy to measure

Associated with most of the major modern diseases

Influenced by various biological pathways that are thought to be important in sociocultural change



BP and Migration in Polynesia

Systolic W. Samoa A. Samoa Hawaii California 123 132 133 140 Diastolic W. Samoa A. Samoa Hawaii California 78 85 86 95

Blood pressure


The obvious reasons

Obesity (although Samoans are big to begin with)

From yams and fish to Big Mac and fries

The not-so-obvious reasons

In Western Samoa, the most traditional area, life is dominated by subsistence and the extended family

In California, there is the struggle to create a life as defined by the American middle class, and there may not be a family support system to help

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