Cultural Evolution

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Cultural Evolution Essay, Research Paper

Cultural evolution began to occur during the most recent Ice Age, or within the last hundred or fifty thousand years. This is when the tools that’s are used for sophisticated hunting are found; for example the spear thrower, the fully barbed harpoon, and the flint master tools that were used to make all the hunting tools. Cultural evolution took shape because man had the flexibility of mind to recognize inventions and to turn them into community property. The Ice Ages forced man to depend less on plants and more on animals, also the ice changed the strategy in which man hunted. Instead of stalking single animals, the better alternative was to follow herds and not to lose them, to learn to anticipate and in the end to adopt their habits, including their wandering migrations. This adaption is known as the transhumanance mode of life on the move. It adapts the earliest forms of hunting, because it is pursuit, where the animals go and how fast they go there set the pace of life and the geography which where they lived. Also it has the later qualities of herding, because the animal is tended and stored as a mobile reservoir of food. This change from a vegetarian to an omnivorous diet, gave man more free time to spend in more direct ways. Meat is a more concentrated protein than plant, and eating meat cuts down the bulk and the time spent in eating by two thirds. Man would become totally dependent on the animal that he hunted, not only for food but products that could be made using the animals remains. Hides could be used for clothing or shelter and bones and antlers could be made into tools or utensils. Hunting could not support a growing population in one place so the hunters made the choice to either move with the herds or starve.

Inventions of tools played a major role in cultural evolution, inventions may have been rare but they spread fast through a culture. Early inventions not only helped man survive but they helped him in becoming a civilized species that had order and control of his lifestyle. Once an invention was discovered, man never left it at that, instead he studied the invention or tool and learned how to make it better or easier to use. The Magdalenian hunter of southern Europe fifteen thousand years ago invented the harpoon. In this early stage of the invention the harpoon was unbarbed; then they were barbed with a single row of fish hooks; and at the end of the period they were fully barbed with a double row of hooks. With these refinements in style they can be pinned to precise periods in time and to exact geographical locations which make them fossils that recount the cultural evolution of man in an orderly progression. Out of all the tools that man used or invented by far the most important was the use of fire, without fire man would have never survived the Ice age. Fire to man of that time was magical and was used for many things such as cooking, heating metal, or just for the heat that it provided. Fire gave man the advantage that he needed to survive and to use all of his resources to the fullest.

The mode of life that people choose are defined as a cultural adaption and not a biological one. Cultural adaption is a choice that can be changed, it is not irreversible, as biological mutations are. Biological evolution is the way that things change to adapt to an environment meaning that a biological adaptation is an inborn form of behavior, but a culture is a learned form of behavior which is communally preferred or has been adopted by society as a whole. A group of people might make a shelter from animal skins, but they can change what they use to build the shelters any time they want to, which makes that a cultural adaptation. Biological differences are things that can not be changed by habit or habitat. Today we call these racial differences, for example you cannot change the color of your skin, that is the way you were made and that is the way you will live. Biological evolution is all the steps that separate us from our ape ancestors. It took at least two million years to change from the ape like creature we once were to the modern form we are now, and man’s biological evolution has been faster than any other animal. Cultural evolution is what we make of ourselves or become using the products and inventions that are there for us. Cultural evolution is usually a hundred times faster than biological evolution. Man being small, awkward, and an unarmed animal had to invent a pebble, a flint, a knife, and a spear which were essential to his survival.

Art and science are probably the two biggest cultural advantages that man has outside the range of anything that an animal can do. The both are derived by man’s ability to visualize the future, to foresee what may happen and plan to anticipate it, and to represent it to ourselves in images that we project and move about inside our head or in technological advances. The imagination is the greatest trait that man has, it gives him the ability to foresee and visualize and also to look back into time and learn from the past to make the present better as a whole. The constant growing and widening of the human imagination is what we call cultural evolution. The men that made the weapons and the paintings were in fact anticipating the future. Out of all man’s wonderful gifts the ability to draw conclusions from what we see and what we do not see, to move our minds through space and time, and to recognize ourselves in the past on the steps to the present: the ability for man to leave his mark.

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