Sample Anthropology Essay Paper on What makes us “human”

Several questions have been raised on human behavior and when it truly began. One of the major differences between humans and other social animals is behavior. This is evident in the fact that humans can interact and make tools used in day-to-day activities or operations. The history of evolution of man argues that man’s ancestors began to create or make tools millions of years ago with this being one of the major behaviors in which early man was involved (Henshilwood et al. 627). Thus, the origin of modern human behavior can be traced to the upper paleolithic transition (W. Eurasia) or the late stone age (Africa). It was during this period that man started to invent advanced and complex technologies. This stage paved the way for the modern technologies we see today. At the time, man started to make and use bows and arrows, needles, knives, spears, and others. An outstanding human behavior that began during the old stone age period was the creation of art. Man started to convey various ideas or thoughts through art, and this is practiced in modern times as well. The inception of stone tools that paved the way for the modern behavior of humans was around two and half million years ago. The shift from stone tools to other technologies can be attributed to the growth in the size of the human brain. Thus, as the human brain developed, humans began to show more civilized behavior such as the wearing clothes.

Arguably, what differentiates humans from other social animals is the aspect of behavior (Henshilwood et al. 628). Unlike other social animals, humans have the capability to make tools that facilitate day-to-day operations, activities, or behaviors. Thus, the fact that the development of various tools and other technologies is attributed to the size of the human brain is justified. Humans tend to have bigger and more complex brains as compared to other animals. It is the brain that makes us “human” as opposed to other social animals in the way we behave or go about our day-to-day activities. Humans’ ancestors, the A. afarensis had an average cranial capacity of 450. For the A. robustus and A. boisei, the average cranial capacity was 507. The modern H. sapiens (older than 8000 years) has an average cranial capacity of 1,490, which is larger than that of early man. Other than the size, humans’ have undergone reorganization of brain function. Unlike other social animals, the sense of smell is greatly reduced among humans. Also, the primary visual region has shifted and relatively reduced in size overtime. Furthermore, a comparison of modern man’s brain and that of the Neanderthal reveals that modern humans tend to have an increase prefrontal love area, an expanded parietal, as well as a cerebellum bulge. The aspect of language also makes us “human” as opposed to other social animals that cannot speak although they can learn to communicate in various human languages. Humans’ ability to speak is because of their larynx that is found in the lower part of the threat as well as the small size of the tongue. On the contrary, the larynx of other animals such as primates are on the upper part of the throat and they have bigger tongues than humans hence their inability to speak. However, the fact that the ability to speak is learned means that other social animals, especially primates, can speak when they learn to do so.

Work Cited

Henshilwood, Christopher S., et al. “The origin of modern human behavior: critique of the models and their test implications.” Current anthropology 44.5 (2003): 627-651.,