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Darwinian Evolution of the Human Body and Culture

  • Jerzy Dzik
Chapter
Part of the Issues in Science and Religion: Publications of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology book series (ESSSAT, volume 4)

Abstract

The fossil record of the anatomical evolution of the human lineage shows that it was very slow and gradual. While changing their habitat from a primeval forest to the unpredictable environment of savannah, our animal ancestors had to change their ecological strategy. As a result, fertility increased, childcare was prolonged, and sedentary family life developed. A hormonal mechanism of filial and sexual imprinting supported these changes by strengthening emotional family ties. This means that such aspects of human biology as sexual behaviour, family love, herd instinct, and feeling of ownership are inherited after our animal ancestors and have a very ancient evolutionary history. The human brain size increase does not necessarily express the development of intellectual abilities but is rather a thermoregulatory mechanism connected with persistence hunting. The intellectual potential of the large brain emerged long after its evolution had been completed. A powerful tool for scientific interpretations of this paradox is offered by the application of the Darwinian way of reasoning to the evolution of human culture, resulting in the selection of ideas. Cultural evolution is cumulative, and some institutions invented by this process may partially liberate humans from the limitations of their biological heritage.

Keywords

Behaviour Ethics Hominin Imprinting Phylogeny 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Biology, Centre of Biological and Chemical Sciences, University of Warsaw and Institute of Paleobiology, Polish Academy of SciencesWarszawaPoland

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