Drivers of Evolution

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Evolution refers to the sequence of events that depicts the gradual development of variations within the genetic composition of a biological population over successive generations. Accordingly, all sorts of life on Earth have a standard ancestor where they originate. However, for evolution to occur, there must be genetic variation, which brings about evolution. There are two mechanisms that drive evolution, which are adaptive evolution and genetic drift. In adaptive evolution, individuals with advantageous characteristics have a high probability of reproducing successively thereby passing their traits to subsequent generation. In genetic drift, random changes are produced within the frequency of traits during a population. On a special scale, evolutionary anthropology are often defined because the study of humankind’s place in nature. Anthropologists address human evolution as well as human nature by focusing on physiology, morphology, cognition and behavior of humans as well as non-human primates as viewed in evolutionary perspective.

Physical Anthropology

Physical anthropology can be defined as a subfield of anthropology that concerns the origin, evolution along with the diversity of humans (Larsen, 2010). In this respect, physical anthropology entails three key areas of focus; human variation and its significance, human and non-human primate evolution as well as the genetic bases of human behavior. For the reason that these areas of focus concern the understanding of the setting of human culture and behavior, physical anthropology becomes the distinctive linkage between the social and biological sciences. It is worth mentioning that the course taken by human evolution together with the processes that have brought it about are of equal concern. Therefore, a physical anthropologist has to study the past populations of fossil hominins and the nonhuman primates.

There are various ways in which physical anthropologists can investigate evolution. First, they can study the evolution of hominids and primates by using fossil records (Larsen, 2010). Fossil records provide solid evidence that organisms from the past are not similar to the ones found in the present day. The records show a progression of evolution. Physical anthropologists can as well investigate evolution through comparative anatomy together with studies of the behavior and structure of close living relatives. Studies are done by physical anthropologists on apes, monkeys, and prosimians to recognize the characteristics which make these groups discrete and those that connect them together. The study of skeletal biology is done by physical anthropologists to help identify and analyze more recent individuals who have deceased. Furthermore, they concentrate on present-day humans to examine their physiology and anatomy as well as their reproduction and impact of factors such as social status on their growth and development.

Human Genome Project

The Human Genome Project (HGP) is an international research undertaking that has the objective of examining the total sequence of human DNA so as to classify each and every gene (Hood, & Rowen, 2013). By sequencing, it means the process of determining the exact order as well as the identity of the three billion base pairs in the genome with the final objective of recognizing every gene. Other equally significant aims of the Human Genome project entail the enhancement of the computational resources to facilitate potential studies and viable applications and examination of the gene purpose through human-mouse comparison. The training of future scientists in the field of genomics is as well another important goal. The project provides a comprehension of the organization and structure of genes, which affords an organized scrutiny of their typical function as well as regulation in the organism. The project also delivers a detailed account of the human genome, which is the basis of the human ecology. As such, the material produced by the Human Genome Project will be essential in the understanding of the evolution since it represents a source book where DNA sequence information can be obtained and therefore used by anthropologists. The HGP also enhances the understanding of evolution through providing understandings into how various creatures from microorganisms to humans are linked to the genealogical tree of life.

Archaeology

Archaeology is a subfield of anthropology that study people, especially human biological as well as behavioral variation in the past, which affects the courses of human development and culture (Tryon, Pobiner, & Kauffman, 2010). In other words, archaeology is the reconstruction of the primeval behavior through examining the things that were left behind by the ancient people. By linking archaeology with the study of biological changes undergone by the human lineage, the understanding of the evolution of the contemporary human is enhanced.

Archaeologists use diverse ways in their investigation of evolution. One of the ways is their study of people’s material culture as well as the things made or modified by humans and hominins. Through their study of culture, archaeologists examine artifacts, moveable substances as well as non-portable things such fireplaces. Similarly essential to the archaeologists are the relative hints, which are learned through conscientiously cautious excavation. The clues entail the location of the found artifacts known as the archaeological sites and their relation with other artifacts or environment.

Archaeological Atlas of the 2 Seas Project

The Archaeological Atlas of the 2 Seas Project is an international venture that sought to enhance the understanding of the submerged heritage of the Chanel and the southern North Sea (The Partners of the A2S project., 2012). The project aimed at learning the whereabouts of the maritime past through investigating, determining and recording archaeology beneath the common waters. The initial phase of the project sought to merge related data concerning archaeological sites in France, United Kingdom and Belgium to generate a broad database of the underwater archaeological landscape. At this phase of the research, archaeologists were able to determine the zones of major interests for the archaeological study. The A2S project is important in the study of evolution as it highlights the importance of using standard procedures and implementation of activities as well as their evolution in the course of a project lifetime. The project also avails a wealth of information that has been organized into a database and connected to a Geographic Information System (GIS), which can be used in various research topics including the evolution of nautical weaponry and even the study of the possessions that characterized the lives of mariners.

Similarities and Differences

Archaeology and physical anthropology share similar research interests as well as various approaches to field work (Weber, 2014). Both fields benefit from the diffusion of know-how as well as the collaboration of work. Also, the methods employed in the field work in both physical anthropology and archaeology are the same. For instance, with current technologies like the remote sensing by use of the satellite images in multispectral modes connect the two discipline together. Even though physical anthropology is concerned with the areas of human and primate evolution, genetics, and human traits development, it places emphasis on human development just like archaeology. However, the main difference between the two subfields of anthropology is that archaeology focuses on past civilizations while physical anthropology studies the historical as well as contemporary origins.

Conclusion

Evolution of natural selection is one of the best-validated theories in the science history since it is supported by a wide range of evidence in diverse disciplines such as genetics, paleontology and development biology. However, whereas Darwin did not know much about genetics, the modern understanding concerns the discovery of the manner in which genes encode various behavioral and biological traits and the passage of genes from the parents to the offspring. Thus, the incorporation of Darwin’s theory and genetics is referred to as the modern evolution synthesis. Physical and behavioral changes which enable natural selection happens at the genes and DNA level. These variations are called mutations, which are fundamentally the raw materials upon which evolution acts. Nonetheless, natural selection is not the only mechanism by which organisms evolve. This is because genes can be transferred from one population to another through the migration of organisms in a process called the gene flow.

References

Hood, L., & Rowen, L. (2013). The human genome project: big science transforms biology and medicine. Genome Medicine, 5(9), 79. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/gm483

Larsen, C. (2010). A companion to biological anthropology (1st ed.). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Park, M. (2013). Introducing Anthropology: An Integrated Approach (6th ed., p. 432 pages). New York, United States: McGraw-Hill Education.

The Partners of the A2S project., (2012). Archaeological Atlas of the 2 Seas (p. 77).

Tryon, C., Pobiner, B., & Kauffman, R. (2010). Archaeology and Human Evolution. Evolution: Education And Outreach, 3(3), 377-386. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12052-010-0246-9

Tsui, L., & Scherer, S. (2001). The Human Genome Project. Biotechnology Set, 41-60.

Weber, G. (2014). Another link between archaeology and anthropology: Virtual anthropology. Digital Applications In Archaeology And Cultural Heritage, 1(1), 3-11. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.daach.2013.04.001

October 12, 2022
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