Human Evolution: A Pelican Introduction
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What makes us human?
How did we develop language, thought and culture?
Why do we need them?
The past 12,000 years represent the only time in the sweep of human history when there has been only one human species. How did this extraordinary proliferation of species come about - and then go extinct? And why did we emerge such intellectual giants? The tale of our origins has inevitably been told through the 'stones and bones' of the archaeological record, yet Robin Dunbar shows it was our social and cognitive changes rather than our physical development which truly made us distinct from other species.
Lehmann, J., and Dunbar, R. I. M. (2010). Resting time as an ecological constraint on primate biogeography. Animal Behaviour 79: 361–74. – Korstjens, A. H., Verhoeckx, I., and Dunbar, R. I. M. (2006). Time as a constraint on group size in spider monkey. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology 60: 683–94. – Kudo, H., and Dunbar, R. I. M. (2001). Neocortex size and social network size in primates. Animal Behaviour 62: 711–22. – Layton, R., O’Hara, S., and Bilsborough, A. (2012). Antiquity and
models to project what will happen as climate warming kicks in over the next century indicates that the apes and the Old World folivorous monkeys (the African colobines and the Asian leaf monkeys) will all go extinct because they lack the dietary plasticity to cope with rising temperatures. In effect, the African apes are almost at the limit of their ability to adjust behaviourally or dietetically to climate change. The orangs represent the limiting case in this respect: they have reduced
eastern Asia, however, erectus populations survived until as late as 60,000 years ago, and in some diminutive forms (the so-called hobbit, Homo floresiensis) on the islands of the Indonesian archipelago until as recently as 12,000 years ago – a mere yesterday in geological time scales. Of more importance is the fact that archaic humans effected a second major wave of invasions into Europe and western Asia, invasions that eventually gave rise to the archetypal European specialists, the
with total group size. In effect, grooming cliques exist to keep everyone else off your back so as to defuse the stresses of living in groups: the bigger the group, the worse the stresses, and the bigger the grooming-clique-cum-coalition that you need to keep everyone else at bay. The size predicted for humans by the ape equation for this relationship is exactly the 15 layer, suggesting that this may be its principal function in humans. In effect, it is the basis for obtaining social support as
function seems to be to coordinate cognitive processing in different parts of the brain, so that a sequence of steps is executed in the right order at the right time. For this reason, it is heavily involved in locomotion and ensures that our limb movements are coordinated and in balance. The cerebellum is relatively larger in the human lineage than in other primates, in part because of the complexity of bipedal locomotion. However, its functions are not just limited to locomotion, but also seem