Radioactive carbon dating is useful for approximately
This is the arena in which the survival of the human species is played out.The occupants of the cultural ecological niche impose a series of selective pressures on each other as they use language and other aspects of culture to their advantage.
Subsequently Diogenes the Cynic, in an equally flippant fashion, displayed a plucked chicken and declared, "Here is Plato's man." Plato's student, Aristotle, also was concerned with verbal definitions and distinctions, but he went on to describe the natural world in a matter-of-fact fashion that has earned him recognition as the founder of the biological sciences.Stone tools, however, do not dissolve and disappear the way bones often do.After their makers had discarded them, they continued to exist as witnesses to the activities of the early hominids--a term used for creatures that are more than just apes and which includes everything from prehuman bipeds up to contemporary human beings.In general, those who have trouble learning the rudiments of language will have less chance for survival.The cultural ecological niche puts a premium on those portions of the brain associated with linguistic capability.Their distribution and ways of life are known only from rare discoveries of usually incomplete skeletal remains.
In most instances, their discovery was the work of paleontologists as a somewhat incidental by-product of their efforts at recovering the much more abundant skeletal remains of various kinds of prehistoric mammals (see Skeleton).
Obviously, females are of equal importance to the survival of the human species, and, somewhat belatedly, the field of biological anthropology has come to realize that males and females require equal attention if the phenomenon of humankind and how it emerged from its nonhuman predecessors is ever to be understood.
It came as something of a surprise when scientists determined that human beings share almost 99 percent of their genetic material with chimpanzees.
At the same time, however, the canine teeth had ceased to project above the level of the other members of the tooth row the way they do in virtually all nonhuman relatives.
This may indicate that the canine teeth were no longer being used for defensive or aggressive purposes and that they were being replaced in this capacity by handheld implements made of perishable materials.
One would expect, then, that the evidence for the increasing complexity of the prehistoric cultural record would be linked to an increase in brain size of the associated prehistoric hominids. Researchers can assess brain size and the form of limbs and feet of prehistoric specimens to see what they can tell us about the course of human development.