History of Ancient People

Describe general characteristics of fossils categorized as Archaic homo sapiens, their temporal and geographic range. Exclude Neandertals. Discuss some of the problems associated with the understanding of this fossil taxon.

Appear more similar to modern humans. Reduced face, less prognathic, greater frontal lobe. Archaic fossils have been found in Europe, Africa and Asia. Problems arise because there is very little fossil record and they are too young to date with pot/argon and too old to date with radiocarbon.

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Over time neandertals have been considered both extremely primitive and nearly modern. Discuss morphological characteristics that distinguish them from both Homo Erectus and anatomically modern sapiens. What does post-cranial morphology indicate about their life histories and life ways in general?

Shape of the skulls differed, football shaped They appear to be built to endure very cold conditions, they lived during descent into a full glacial period. They needed to be able to conserve heat in a very strenuous environment.

Fossil evidence indicates that neadertals were extinct by 25,000 years ago. Identify features of their skeletal morphology, mortality profiles and apparent life ways that might explain their disappearance from the fossil record.

Neadertals were very robust, short limbs, barreled rib cage and strong hands that required high levels of calories to survive. They lived very short lives and they exhibited bone fractures and cranial injuries. Bone fractures consistent with rodeo cowboys, suggests that they were taking large prey. They juvenile mortality rate was high also, which points towards the idea that life was very difficult, too difficult for most to survive.

Richard Klein and Lewis Binford have taken opposite stands regarding neadertal hunting capabilities. Outline their arguments. Select and defend one position.

KLEIN: Claims neanderatls were proficient hunters by the accumulation bison bone in one place, points toward the idea that neandertals were targeting them. The species found were too abundant to be found in one place, unless they were being killed. Also some stone tool marks on meatiest part of bone suggests that they weren’t left by scavengers but killed by neandertals.

BINFORD: claims that neandertals were only scavengers, most of the bones found were only skull and feet bones. Thus pointing towards the idea that they were killing small prey and scavenging large already made kills.

What does the fossil record suggest regarding religious practices and altruistic behavior among neandertal populations? Is the fossil record consistent with respect to these issues?

It suggests that neandertals cared for disabled, evidence shows disabilities that required care by other members of the group. Burial recovery of skeletons with bone fractures that suggest they were being cared for, they survived where they would not have without help. Also evidence that they buried their dead, bodies have been found in association of goods. Suggests religious practice and altruistic behavior, contemporary to modern human populations. The Fossil record is consistent to the point where we can assume they were taking care of them, if monkeys and apes can do it so could Neandertals.

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