Hall of Human Origins

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Submitted By gurima
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Humans belong to the species Homo sapiens, which is a member of the subgroup Homininin (Rasmussen, 1993). Along with chimpanzees and gorillas, humans belong to the subfamily Homininae. Fossil evidence and genetic studies show that humans and chimpanzees shared a common ancestor dating back millions of years ago (Rasmussen, 1993). Four trends led to major evolutionary changes and the development of Homo sapiens. The Hall of Human Origins is an exhibit at the National Museum of History that summarizes the changes that sets us apart as humans. The path to becoming human began 1.8 million years ago when our ancestors started to walk upright. The first major change to occur was the development of a bipedal structure. Initially our early ancestors walked on four legs while on the ground and climbed trees. Changes in anatomy such as reshaping the hips, skull, and lower limbs resulted in an upright body, longer stride, efficient gait, and the ability to run (Blaxland and Dorey, 2012). The second major change occurred when human ancestors developed shorter jaws and smaller teeth. The canines became shorter and rounded and the less protruding jaw allowed the face to become more vertical and proportionate (Blaxland and Dorey, 2012). One of the more significant changes that occurred was the development of a larger brain size. Early on about 3 million years ago the brain size of our early ancestors was very similar to the modern chimpanzee. The dramatic change in size led to reorganization of the brain. Evolution led to the development in areas of the brain that involved learning, smelling, and vision (Blaxland and Dorey, 2012). In less than 2 million years brain size increased threefold from the initial 450 cc to 1250 cc.
Finally, as a result of developing brains our ancestors’ intelligence increased. This led to the ability to make complex technology in the…...

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