–         Most people look to religion to explain human existence, the origin of the universe, and the meaning of existence

However many theories from science have surfaced over the past 150 years…

–         The Theory of Evolution states that human ancestry is from lower life forms

–         Many paleontologists have overwhelming fossil evidence that supports this theory; however, it is incomplete and ever-changing

–         Despite the fluid nature of these non-religious theories, they offer a compelling view on where we came from.

The Theory of Evolution

–         According to the Theory of Evolution, humans belong to the Primate order

–         This ape family split into branches: tree-dwelling apes and ground-dwelling apes know as hominids (pre-humans)

–         Over time, in response to environmental pressures, the hominids learned to walk upright – their arms grew shorter and legs grew longer (no longer required for locomotion); and the head shifted toward a more upright position; an increase development in the muscle back of the neck

Scientific Examples of the Theory of Evolution at work…

  • The first complete fossil (Australopithecus africanus) of the Homo sapiens (“thinking man”) was found in South Africa 1924 by Raymond Dart.  Dated between 2-3 million years ago
  • The first representative of the genus Homo (Homo Habilis) was found in the Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania in 1964 (1.75 million years ago); along with tools
  • In Ethiopia in 1973, the Leakeys found Lucy (Australopithicus afarensis
  • ) which was date as 3-3.8 million years old
  • Recently (1998) paleontologists found a 4 foot skeleton in South Africa which is dated as being 3.5 million years ago…this find shows to scientists the transition from ape to human

The Order of Human Evolution

Homo Habilis

  • was the first TOOL-MAKER
  • dated 2-2.5 million years ago
  • less that 5 ft tall
  • opposable thumbs to fashion tools

Homo erectus (can be known as Homo Ergaster)

  • learned to control and use FIRE
  • 2.3 million years ago (MYA)…fossils found in Africa
  • came up with an all-purpose tool called the Acheulean Ax
  • the first species to live entirely on the ground, instead of being in trees
  • 1.6 mya this species migrated out of Africa north to the Near East and Asia; and then eventually to cooler climates in Europe: many theories exist as to why they migrated north.  Two common reasons are:

1. Extended dry periods in Sahara Desert caused people to                      find other food

2. The developed the ability to adapt to different                                       environments

Neanderthals

  • 200,000-40,000 years ago
  • the Homo Erectus species that migrated North evolved into another species called Neanderthals
  • 1856 the Neander Valley (western Germany) was unearthed
  • as a result of the climate the physical features of the Neanderthals were different – taller than 5ft; sloping foreheads; prominent brow ridges; thicker set bodies

Homo sapiens

  • 20,000 years ago
  • there is evidence that the DNA of Neanderthals runs in the Homo Sapiens’ DNA
  • These are the species that came across to the Bering Strait to the Americas

Paleolithic Societies

  • CRO-MAGNON 30,000-10,000 years ago
  • The old stone age – tool-making is the predominant advancement of these societies
  • The taking eoliths, bits of a stone; fashioning it to fulfill a specific function; and standardizing it so that the function of it is passed down from generation to generation
  • Art is another unique part of the Paleolithic societies – depict the abundance of game animals and the successful hunting of them; the art also depicts a form of religion, but not a religion – the wielding of magic to have power over the spirits of animals
  • Many art caves are in Spain and France

Neolithic Societies

  • 7000 years ago; The New Stone Age
  • Location: Balkan peninsula, Egypt, central Europe, Britain, India, Mesoamerica
  • A shift in food-processing took place in the Near East – crops with planted and cultivated; animals were cared for and bred; food storage took place
  • The best preserved village is Catal Huyuk, southern Turkey
  • This site has rich artifacts of pottery, woven textiles, mud-brick houses; shrines honoring the mother goddess (first form of religion), EARTH MOTHER (carved woman with exaggerated boobs and features)
  • Scientists have pondered whether this was the first village/civilization with a religious and political elite

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