Dec 20, 2020
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This involves the study of human cultures and communities in regards to development. There are four primary fields of anthropology i.e. cultural, linguistic, archaeology, and biological anthropology. The objective of this course is to comprehend evolutionary origins, the diverse diversity in social existence, and the distinctiveness of various species.
This involves the interpretation of various cultures, their respective processes, cultural alterations, and social transformation. The research is based on marital patterns, kinship organizations, social and political organizations, economic systems, and the differing religious beliefs within the society. Majority of individuals prefer the study of contemporary communities rather than ancient ones. In the 19th and 20th centuries the primary societies of study were small isolated communities with different cultures as compared to Europeans and European Americans; this includes Pacific Island, African, Native American communities, etc. Nowadays there are extreme unprecedented social and cultural alterations globally due to rapid population growth, and technological innovations. This has resulted in the completely isolated societies becoming drawn into the global economy and highly influenced by the dominant cultures. These changes can cause complete deletion of various cultures and extinction of linguistic diversity.
This involves the systemic studies of human biological characteristics based on genetic inheritance rather than educationally acquired. The primary focuses being human evolution. Nonetheless, there is also the near-human category that involves other primates such as monkeys, apes, etc. Biology anthropologists are essentially involved in comprehending the mechanisms of genetic inheritance and evolution based on human’s adaptability capacities in regards to various environmental stresses. The three primary areas of research include paleo-anthropology, primatology, and human biology. Primatology refers to carrying out non-human primate research and conducted in the animals’ natural settings. The intention is to understand their capabilities and mannerisms patterns. Primates principally aid in properly comprehending our ealiest human ancestors who lived over 2 million years ago. Human biology is based on learning about human diversity, non-cultural adaptations, genetic inheritance patterns, and other biological characteristics in regards to environmental alterations.
Archeology studies are based on the recovery of the early history and prehistory aspects of the society and their respective cultures. It involves the systematic unearthing of evidence through excavation, dating, and analyzing materials from previous generations. Additionally, there is the evaluation of environmental information, fragmentary pots, and ancient artifacts to reconstruct past societies. There are a variety of specializations in this field. Classical archeology involves the concentration on ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean world and the Middle East. Historical archeology is based on the recovery of the undocumented aspects of the modern ages such as the colonial Americas eras. Prehistoric archeology emphasizes on primitive pre-literate societies globally including the early North American Indians. Zoo archeology interprets and analyzes animal remains located in archeological sites. Lastly, underwater archeology involves the discovery and evacuation of ancient submerged cities and shipwrecks.
This field involves the study of the human communication processes. The essence is based on a proper comprehension on psychology of speech, development of languages, function and structure of various languages, and social and cultural impacts on communication. The studies are centered on unwritten, non-European languages that are first learned through the native speakers. Through this, linguists understand the rules for making sounds, meaning of sounds, and the regulations on sentence construction. Additionally, they study on various social and regional dialects, and social conventions of speaking the languages in varying situations.
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In 2011 and 2015, excavations in Callao cave in the Philippines yielded 13 skeletal elements believed to be at least 50,000 years old and belonging to 3 separate humans. The fossils consisted of seven teeth, one foot bone, two finger bones, two toe bones, and a portion of a femur. This was a major milestone for scientists, as prior to this discovery,an archaeologist named Armand Salvador Mijares had unearthed a metatarsal approximately 67,000 years old in the same cave. Analysis of the 13 remains revealed that the skeletal elements had features belonging to both ancient and advanced humans and were different from other species such as Homo sapiens,Homo erectus and Homo floresiensis. Its shaft curvature of the pedal phalanx and flexor sheath attachments were similar to Australopithecus. With these morphological findings, scientists classified the hominin under a new species known as Homo luzonensis. However, efforts in retrieving DNA were unsuccessful, owing to the hot and humid conditions that the fossils had been subjected to in the tropical island for millennia (Greshko and Wei-Haas, 2019). These unique physical traits of Homo luzonensis have been explored in detail by scientists and researchers, and more studies have shown that it is likely a different species from the rest of the hominins (Peters, 2020). This paper will discuss the physical and behavioral characteristics of Homo luzonensis and present a detailed analysis as to why this hominin was classified as a new species and the reasoning behind this classification.
Morphometric analysis of Homo luzonensis suggests that the hominin’s fossils are different from all the known hominins. The curves and grooves of the skeletal remains from Homo luzonensis portray both primitive and modern features. First off, it has small, postcanine maxillary teeth with a high premolar: molar size ratio. This particular characteristic makes it different from all the other species in the genus Homo (Detroit et al., 2019). The pattern on the molar crown is simpler and more human-like, while the premolars are much larger and resemble that of species such as Homo floresiensis and older species of Homo erectus. One upper premolar has three roots, which is a primitive feature that is not found in modern humans. Only 3% of the population of modern humans has this feature (Greshko and Wei-Haas, 2019). Anthropologists claim that this mixture of both primitive and modern traits in the teeth of Homo luzonensis can also be seen in species such as Homo naledi found in South Africa and 15,000-year-old fossils found in China.
Some of the foot and hand bones of Homo luzonensis resemble that of Australopithecus, a species that is approximately 3 million years old. The shaft curvature of the pedal phalanx (CCH4) and flexor sheath attachments are similar to Australopithecus, which exhibit varying degrees of bipedalism. The mode of movement of Homo luzonensis is, however, not fully established (Zimmer, 2019). The long and narrow intermediate phalanx of the hominin is very different from the rest of the species apart from Homo sapiens. One unique feature of the hominin is the dorsal break found near the knuckle, which appears to be angled toward the wrist instead of the finger. Homo luzonensis has a small stature, which causes its skeletal features to appear more primitive than they actually are (Greshko and Wei-Haas, 2019). This small body size is also seen in Homo floresiensis, and scientists believe that the phenomenon of shrinkage is due to insular dwarfism (Detroit et al., 2019).
One of the behavioral characteristics that are thought to have been part of Homo luzonensis is hunting and tool making. There is evidence that shows that these ancient humans used tools and hunted animals for meat. One fascinating piece of evidence is a deer bone found in the same area with cut marks that appear to be from stone tools (Greshko and Wei-Haas, 2019). This may suggest that Homo luzonensis was a proficient hunter and toolmaker. Another piece of evidence that supports this is the discovery of a set of stone tools and the fossils of a butchered rhinoceros, which date back to 700,000 years. These remains were found in the Callao cave area on the island of Luzon. The time gap between these fossils and that of Homo luzonensis suggests that the unique characteristics of the hominin may have evolved during this period. Additionally, the lack of fossil evidence for large carnivores in the Philippines, such as deer during the Pleistocene, suggests that the unearthed deer bones were brought into the cave by humans after hunting (Detroit et al., 2019).
Another behavioral trait that may be characteristic of Homo luzonensis is that they were intelligent compared to other species. This speculation stems from the question of how these hominins managed to reach the island of Luzon. The likelihood of accidental arrival is very low, and therefore scientists can only assume that Homo luzonensis reached the island either through rafts or boats (Greshko and Wei-Haas, 2019). Other species, such as Homo floresiensis, are also thought to have reached the island in the same way. However, some argue that their intelligence level was not advanced enough for building boats and other vessels of travel. This can be disproved because of the evidence that points to stone tools being used by these ancient hominins. However, more samples need to be recovered and analyzed to determine if these claims are substantial.
The combination of both primitive and modern features found in the skeletal remains of Homo luzonensis and the huge difference that exists between these remains and other species of the Homo genus is the main reason scientists place Homo luzonensis as a separate new species. According to Detroit et al. (2019), the variability in the skeletal remains of the hominin presents a greater likelihood that it falls under a different and distinct species. The small stature of Homo luzonensis could be due to evolution that happened once they became isolated on the island, free from most predators. This phenomenon has been described as insular dwarfism, which happens when an animal’s limited environment affects their body size. The bones and teeth are a huge indicator that this hominin was a different species from Homo erectus and Homo sapiens but could be closely related to Australopithecus. It can also be presumed that the ancestors of Homo luzonensis came from a different species of the Homo genus. Despite the lack of DNA evidence to support this classification, most scientists are convinced that Homo luzonensis can be classified under a separate species of its own. As previously stated, more remains need to be unearthed and studied in order to find more evidence that supports these claims (White, 2014).
From the evidence presented by scientists and anthropologists, it is safe to conclude that Homo luzonensis is a new species that possess a combination of both primitive and modern traits. Its molars have human-like features, while its premolars resemble those found in ancient humans. Its dental features are also very different from the rest of the species in the Homo genus, and this uniqueness makes it suitable for its classification. The bones of Homo luzonensis resemble that of a 3 million year old hominin Australopithecus and display features that are different from species like Homo erectus and Homo sapiens. The small stature of the hominin is typical of island inhabitants such as Homo floresiensis and is due to insular dwarfism. This may suggest that both Homo luzonensis and Homo floresiensis evolved from a different species that left Africa during the same period as Homo erectus (Solly, 2019). The behavioral characteristics of the hominin do not have much to give away in terms of classification but show that their ability to make tools and hunt animals helped in their evolution on the island. Tool marks on deer bones and rhinoceros fossils show that this species was proficient in hunting. Although some scientists claim that this morphological evidence alone is not enough to categorize the hominin under a new species, there is a likelihood that the discovery of more bones in the area will yield results that support this classification. The lack of DNA evidence may be a hindrance, but with the advancement in technology, it is possible that better techniques and methods of analyzing fossils will be developed.
Détroit, F., Mijares, A. S., Corny, J., Daver, G., Zanolli, C., Dizon, E., Robles, E., Grün, R., & Piper, P. J. (2019).A new species of Homo from the Late Pleistocene of the Philippines. Nature, 568, 181–186. doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1067-9
Greshko, M., & Wei-Haas, M. (2019). New species of ancient humans discovered in the Philippines. Nationalgeographic.com. Retrieved 15 October 2020, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/04/new-species-ancient-human-discovered-luzon-philippines-homo-luzonensis/.
Peters, M.A. (2020) Posthumanism, platform ontologies and the ‘wounds of modern subjectivity’, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 52:6, 579-585, DOI: 10.1080/00131857.2019.1608690
Solly, M. (2019). A New Human Ancestor Species Was Discovered in the Philippines. Smithsonian Magazine.Retrieved 15 October 2020, from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/paleontologists-unearth-fossils-belonging-previously-unknown-species-ancient-human-180971941/.
White, T.D. (2014). Delimitating species in paleoanthropology. Evolutionary Anthropology, 23(1), 30–32. doi.org/10.1002/evan.21391
Zimmer, K. (2019). New Species of Human, Homo luzonensis, Identified in the Philippines. The Scientist Magazine®.Retrieved 15 October 2020, from https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/new-species-of-human–homo-luzonensis–identified-in-the-philippines-65722.