Similarities and differences

  • Created by: melissa
  • Created on: 13-05-15 17:11

Comparing human and ape anatomy


  •  Humans: Limited proportion of skin covered in hair e.g. top, back and sides of head, armpits & genitals (adults), sometimes chest & limbs (adult males). 
  • Apes: Dense hairs cover most the skin except face, plantar surfaces of feet and palmer surfaces of hands. 

Facial Structure:

  •  Humans: small eyebrow ridges, protruding nose, flattened jaws large lips (beneficial for facial expression)Walking upright (called "bipedal gait") enhanced by:legs longer than armswide pelvis (relative to apes) ability to straighten the knee, arched feet, large buttocks (relative to apes)
  • Apes:prominent eye ridges, flattened nose,very large jaw (for eating),thin lips ,Shuffling on all fours ("quadrupedal gait") supported by:long arms (proportionately longer than in humans) narrow pelvis (relative to humans) knees bent - to greater or lesser extentflat, fat, feet (relative to humans)
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Comparing human and ape social behaviour

Human - Social Behaviour 

  •  Social groups not necessarily associated with survival e.g. nationality, cultural/hobby interests, social media such as Twitter, etc. 
  • Advanced Communication - taking various forms e.g. of sound, writing, art and use of complicated technologies. 
  • At least some humans are highly mobile - by making use of modern transport by land, sea or air. 
  •  Occupy specific homes, either individually or in small (usually family) groups. Sometimes said to have "fixed" homes but some groups of humans are or have been nomadic - even in those cases they usually travel with a home/shelter or the components needed to create one e.g. tent-like constructions.
  • Can make tools individually and manufacture advanced devices collectively e.g. producing component parts (possibly at different locations) assembling and testing or calibrating them, finally transporting them to even more locations for use. 
  •  Can control and make use of many forms of energy, e.g. fire for heating spaces and cooking food, wind for travel by sail or conversion to other types of energy, and even converting nuclear energy for use in many ways e.g. in homes and businesses.
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Comparing human and ape social behaviour

Ape - Social Behaviour

  • Social groups are based on survival needs only e.g. cooperation re. finding food, care of young and defence of group 
  •  Communication based on a limited range of sounds and gestures 
  •  Live (in the wild) within relatively small territories 
  •  Do not occupy specific "homes" or dwelling places 
  • Do not make tools e.g. by changing the shape of objects in their environment for use for a specific purpose. However, may use objects as tools to perform simple tasks.
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Race= each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics

Jared Diamond: Classification of humans shapes our views of other peoples, fosters our subconscious differentiation between "us" and "them," and is invoked to justify political and socioeconomic discrimination. On this basis, many anthropologists therefore argue that even if one could classify humans into races, one should not.

Social Meaning of Race Affects: §Access to wealth, power and prestige, Access to education, housing, and other valued resources, Where you live, How you are treated, Life chances

Species and subspecies: all human populations, no matter how different they look, belong to the same species because they do interbreed and have interbred whenever they have encountered each other. Gorillas and humans, however, belong to two different species because--to the best of our knowledge--they have never interbred despite their coexisting in close proximity for millions of years. 

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Natural selection and race

Many geographically variable human traits evolved by natural selection to adapt humans to particular climates or environments--just as the winter color of a hare or weasel did. Good examples are the mutations that people in tropical parts of the Old World evolved to help them survive malaria, the leading infectious disease of the old-world tropics. One such mutation is the sickle-cell gene, so-called because the red blood cells of people with that mutation tend to assume a sickle shape. People bearing the gene are more resistant to malaria than people without it. Not surprisingly, the gene is absent from northern Europe, where malaria is non-existent, but it's common in tropical Africa, where malaria is widespread. Up to 40 percent of Africans in such areas carry the sickle- cell gene. It's also common in the malaria-ridden Arabian Peninsula and southern India, and rare or absent in the southernmost parts of South Africa, among the Xhosas, who live mostly beyond the tropical geographic range of malaria

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Environmental pressures and race

Environmental pressures have also produced more noticeable differences among peoples, particularly in body shapes. Among the tallest and most long-limbed peoples in the world are the Nilotic peoples, such as the Dinkas, who live in the hot, dry areas of East Africa. At the opposite extreme in body shape are the Inuit, or Eskimo, who have compact bodies and relatively short arms and legs. The reasons have to do with heat loss. The greater the surface area of a warm body, the more body heat that's lost, since heat loss is directly proportional to surface area. For people of a given weight, a long-limbed, tall shape maximizes surface area, while a compact, short-limbed shape minimizes it. Dinkas and Inuit have opposite problems of heat balance: the former usually need desperately to get rid of body heat, while the latter need desperately to conserve it. Thus natural selection molded their body shapes oppositely, based on their contrasting climates. 

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sexual selection and race

Other visible traits that vary geographically among humans evolved by means of sexual selection. We all know that we find some individuals of the opposite sex more attractive than other individuals. We also know that in sizing up sex appeal, we pay more attention to certain parts of a prospective sex partner's body than to other parts. Men tend to be inordinately interested in women's breasts and much less concerned with women's toenails. Women, in turn, tend to be turned on by the shape of a man's buttocks or the details of a man's beard and body hair, if any, but not by the size of his feet. 

But all those determinants of sex appeal vary geographically. Khoisan and Andaman Island women tend to have much larger buttocks than most other women. ****** colour and breast shape and size also vary geographically among women. European men are rather hairy by world standards, while Southeast Asian men tend to have very sparse beards and body hair. 

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Critique of race

§The revelation of the Holocaust, and the enlistment of science in its perpetuation, caused a wave of international revulsion. § In the 1960s the idea of race itself became the target § The anti-racists attacked the notion that the human species was divisible into five or any other small number of races. §the result was the gradual disappearance of the concept of race from natural science § In the 1960s anthropology affirmed that race does not exist

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