What Defines Us As Humans Essay

1730 words - 7 pages

What defines us as humans?
Calling ourselves human is our way of categorizing ourselves as a superior species.  Although we are distinctly different, we should accept that we are in the same family as chimpanzees. Acknowledging that fact doesn't mean you are calling yourself a chimp. For example, a dog isn't a wolf even though they are from the same family. We are humans. What is it about our physical and behavioral traits that enable us to develop uniquely human capabilities? Traits like language, hunting skills, spiritual and ritual beliefs, bipedalism, and brain capacity
The human language might not be universal among humans, but the physical traits that make language possible are ...view middle of the document...

Chimps also lack the physical traits like the basicrania. Chimps feature a straighter base, unlike the flexed based in a human, which does not allow the larynx to be low in the neck, resulting in less speech ability.  Chimps also don’t display Broca’s area. Although they can communicate verbally, they do not have any defined language as far as we can determine.
           Both humans and chimpanzees are able to modify their environment and to forge tools to help with daily challenges. Like humans, chimpanzees hunt for food. Chimps hunt in groups, mostly containing all males. Chimp attacks are more of a mobbing technique than a coordinated attack. Research shows that chimps might be using the surprise attack technique when they are deliberately hunting for food. Chimpanzees also use tools to aid in survival. They are known to make termite sticks, use stones as hammers and anvils, and mash leaves into a pulp to use as makeshift sponges. However, their tools and skills are nowhere the complexity of the human inventions.
With the help of language, humans evolved from gatherers and scavengers into skilled hunters. Communicative humans could strategize to improve their hunting skills and develop new hunting technology. Instead of using a stick to gather bugs like a chimpanzee, humans developed tools like the Atlatl. Homo sapiens developed group hunting strategies that allowed them to hunt large, medium, and small mammals, as well as fish and shellfish. As hunting more animals became possible, the stone hunting tools that were made by Homo sapiens also changed. The tools they made became more specialized, smaller, complex, and refined. These included composite stone tools such as fishhooks, harpoons, bows and arrows, throwing spears and sewing needles. Only humans can combine materials to create tools with different, specialized functions.
As humans evolved they also began to have spiritual/ritual beliefs. This is evidenced by the burying of their dead, which often involved a ceremony. Animals like chimpanzees do not bury their dead, and most do not acknowledge the loss. Some even eat dead pack members or animals of the same species. The human dead are often buried with objects of their everyday life. This shows that at least some early humans believed that they would need their tools for the afterlife. One can assume that this is an indication of belief in something beyond what could be seen. There is no evidence that chimps have any spiritual or ritual beliefs.
Modern humans are unique in the primate world because of their bipedal movement. That is, they walk on two feet instead of four. Bipedalism affects many parts of the body, including the neck, skull, pelvis, and limbs. In humans, the position of the skull on top of the spine (foreman magnum) and the development of the curvatures of the spine in the “S” shape have resulted in a trunk balanced over the pelvis. Our arms are relatively short and weak compared to our legs.  Our feet no...

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