What Makes Us Human

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Justin Weiss
Sociology/Anthropology Didier
September 20, 2010

What Makes Us Human?
Many ponder the question “What makes us human?” We can all state the obvious such as being bipedal, having the ability to create complex sounds in needs of communication, and our abilities to create tools and technology. With all of this we come to question whether being human is just biological or if it is cultural. One may believe one or the other, but I believe that it is culture.

Biologically, we know that homo sapiens are completely bipedal such as the Neanderthals, but we outlived their species despite our smaller physique and brain size. With the brain, it is not the size that matters, but the functionality. With a more intricate and compact brain we could outsmart the Neanderthals, despite their larger bone structure an overall strength. What the Neanderthals could not do was survive due to environmental changes like Homo sapien sapiens. We have many theories as to why homo sapiens survived and the Neanderthals did not, but none of them have strong supporting evidence. Since we were a little bit more biologically advanced, we somehow survived what had taken down an entire species. We were capable as were the Neaderthals, but what set us apart was culture, which sparked community and language and our overall ability to function better in means of survival. Culture allowed us to start our cultural evolution to create the world we live in today.

In order to capture human culture as a whole, one must look back to the prehistoric times when Homo sapiens were just starting to emerge. While picking up ideas through diffusion from other species and groups, Homo sapiens gathered many traits and attributes leading up to what humans are like today. Tools and primitive technology first seen with Homo habilis may have been the most important part of our cultural revolution. From Australopithicus to Homo, tools emerged and quickly gained intricacy and practicality....
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