Culture is defined as the collective behavior and norms practiced in a human society. It entails a collection of phenomena passed on between humans by way of social interaction. Cultural forms are depicted in many human societies in artistic forms like art, music, religion, rituals and technologies (Bennett, 2017). Evolution is the gradual biological change of a species over time. These changes occur because of genetic variation that changes an organism’s physical characteristics that give certain organism’s better survival advantage over the others. These changes can also occur due to mutation. (Distance Ed 2018a). These beneficial characteristics are later passed on to the organisms’ subsequent generation of offspring. The passing down of knowledge from one human generation to the next has been thought to have had an effect on human evolution. This essay thus seeks to illustrate the effect of passing down of culture on human evolution.
After the discovery of fire, Homo sapiens was able to make advances to apply fire in cooking. This had led to diversion in jaw size and mouth gapes from his earlier ape relatives. Moreover, it has made our stomachs smaller and changed our intestines lengths that constitutes to a significant range of other downstream effects (Distance Ed, 2018b ; Henrich, 2012).
As noted by Distance Ed (2018b), a spoken language provides many evolutionary advantages over a gestural one. Just like bipedalism, relying on a spoken language, the hands were free to do other tasks, such as hunting, carrying stuff and it also made it possible to communicate in the dark. This saw to a reduction of tooth and jaw sizes that made it easier to speak.
Social status has also emerged as another consequence of culture on evolution. Humans with a specific interest in a particular field converge together to share resources essential for them to and their future. Those who are best skilled in the field become mentors whose behavior is greatly imitated by others of similar interest. Henrich (2012) note that this phenomenon may lead to the development of differences that may equate to diverse groups of individuals brought together by their common interests.
Compared to chimpanzees, humans live in families. This enables imitation of cultural practices to be a very practical exercise. Younger generations have the chance to learn from a diverse set of mentors who might be the different leaders of the family packs. Offspring, therefore, are able to acquire the most suitable and efficient method of doing things. This arises from the fact that the most efficient method will be preferred among individuals and accepted as the standard norm at the expense of an existing inferior idea. This also provides a platform for growth, advancement and intellectual competition between humans (Laland, 2017). Ideas passed on to subsequent generations determine their mode of life and thus impact on the course of evolution.
From the above ideas, it is evident that culture has had a significant effect on the evolution of the modern man. Since his separation from his distant relatives who are less accurate in imitation, copying of ideas from one generation to the other has led to advancement in the modern man’s diversity as well as an increased distinctness from his ancient hominid relatives.
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