Predecessors: the fossil record (paleoanthropology)

From the “Predecessors: the fossil record (paleoanthropology)” handout

Homo ergaster/Homo erectus. Their brains were about three-fourths the size of ours, and although they could communicate vocally, they didn’t possess Our capability for language. With their stone-based Acheulean (western ergaster/ stone and bamboo-based (eastern erectus) technologies, populations of this genus that was adapted for a tropical environment were able to, over millennia, migrate into temperate regions and occupy much of the Old World (during the Ice Age!): gathering vegetation and hunting animals for food, and processing the hides to create cloaks and shelters for themselves; and they figured out how to control fire.

They hunted and gathered in small, semi-nomadic groups. Their technology enabled them to better live within nature—non-permanent campsites, campfires that generated negligible amounts of smoke, whatever waste they generated was fully recyclable. Their way of life was eminently sustainable. With their small populations, they left a very ‘light’ footprint on the environment.

Our way of life is characterized primarily by concentrations of large populations relying on food produced in massive quantities all over the world.  Our technology is much more about overcoming nature and insulating ourselves from nature, is highly extractive (of natural resources), and generates incalculable amounts of waste of all kinds, much of it ultimately non-biodegradable, that ends up in landfills, spread over the landscape, and in massive “islands” in the oceans. We modern humans typically live in large, densely-packed population groupings, which create major ‘pulls’ on local environments everywhere and on the global environment.

They stuck around for about 2 million years.

We anatomically and culturally modern humans with Our “Big Brains” and capability for language have been around for at most, 100 thousand years, maybe more like 50 thousand.

→Your thoughts on the questions: Will WE be around for 2 million years? Or are we JUST THAT MUCH too smart…and JUST THAT MUCH not smart enough?

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