Environmental Change and Human Evolution – Best Sample Essays(2022)

This article covers a sample essay solution about Environmental Change and Human Evolution.

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How has the environment been a factor in human evolution?  How has the environment transformed humans and their ancestors, both biologically and culturally? 

You will be graded on your understanding of the readings and your ability to integrate the information.  Good anthropological writing is based on details.  Make your answer as complete as possible.  This essay is worth 14% of your total grade- more than two quizzes and more than several blogs.  Do not underestimate the significance of this assignment for your grade.


Environmental Change and Human Evolution

 Human evolution refers to the overtime processes of change that enabled people to advance from ape-like ancestors to modernized people. However, despite being the modern humans that we know today, human evolution still occurs and is often stimulated by factors such as cultural interactions with other people, relations with other people, diseases, and the different environments in which we live in. Climate change causes ecological changes, including high temperatures, extended growing seasons, and draught.

When such cases occur, plants and animals always evolve depending on the type of climate for survival. This trend is referred to as the survival effect. When the earth gradually warms up, various evolutionary changes will occur even on human beings. Climate change tends to affect the normal functioning of internal organs in our bodies in small but notable ways (Marean, 2012). Therefore, it is imperative to understand the causal factors of climate change and corresponding effects on human evolution across different timelines.

Hominin Evolution

Hominins have been identified as humans’ immediate evolutionary family. Within the evolutionary family, similarities range from increased body size characterizes to flexible limbs, developed nails instead of claws, a short snout, and a shift of emphasis on visual and olfactory sensitivity. Historical findings show that evolution is a continuous process with less clarity on the real starting points, supporting the hypothesis. Consequently, taxonomic frameworks define the evolutionary events’ chronological estimates based on convergences between molecular approaches, fossil, and anatomical structures. The findings show that there is a constant rate of mutation during evolution as the construction of the molecular clock has similarities and differences in terms of biomolecules.

Understanding evolutionary history shows that human beings have a shared ancestry, hence the many common behavioral traits that are culturally and socially transmitted. The contrast between the life history of modern humans and evolutionary proximity is about Hominidae genera as an impact of shared ancestry. Research states that adaptation of hominins in different environments is derived from an ecological contest where individuals evolved and subsequent climatic changes coinciding with the emergence of diverged hominins (Marean, 2012).

As a result, environments and changes experienced played a role in evolution. Fragmentation resulted from promoted speciation because of population isolation and selective pressures resulting from distribution, seasonality, and resource type change. Consequently, the mutation rate during evolution influences the population’s similarities and differences but witnessed a convergence of molecular approaches, fossil, and anatomical structures.

Therefore, understanding hominin origin is an elusive paleoanthropological problem because of unclear documentation of environmental and evolutionary context that could help explain the lineages. This paper utilizes documented literature and available fossil records that would explain the origin of hominin hence a reflection of reliable and valid results about hominin evolution.

Human Evolution Timelines

Timeline period between 2.9-2.4 million years ago (mya)

Members of the Australopithecus afarensis significantly characterize this period, often called the early hominids. The existence of these organisms was accompanied by gradual changes in environmental composition and body changes depicting evolution. Early hominids had larger faces but smaller brains as members of the genus Homo discovered 2.4 million years ago. During this period, stone tools were widely used for hunting and transforming objects.

Timeline Period between 1.9 to 1.6 mya

Members of the Homo erectus characterize this timeline Fossils’ evidence for the existence of the Homo erectus strongly demonstrates a huge success story making it the longest surviving members among all our relatives. Homo erectus species were considered the most geographically widespread species compared with other species. This period was hugely comprised of species developed from the primitive early Homo and late forms of Australopithecus.

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Environmental Change and Human Evolution
Environmental Change and Human Evolution

Timeline Period between 195,000 to 123,000 mya

During this period, the Homo sapiens population plunged drastically, rendering it nearly an endangered species. Current global populations’ DNA signifies that people existing around 195,000 million years ago experienced an alarming population decline. The climate around this period became harsh and unconducive for habitation compared to previous climates characterized by mild atmospheres and abundant food reserves. Later, the planet went into a Marine Isotope Stage 6 (MIS6), which was a long glacial stage lasting nearly 123,000 years ago.

Human Species: The Early Homo

Understanding early Homo is important to gather information about transitions between human development stages and the evolutionary change. Homo erectus species preceded the Homo habilis species rendering it one of the earliest forms of the genus Homo. Nearly all humans derive similar origins from our ancestors, who we share a striking resemblance in their statute. Although several body orientation disparities exist, some traits are definitive of our historical roots stretching back to millions of years ago (mya).

Like the ancient australopithecines, members of the early Homo exhibited a feathery-like body frame weighing approximately 70 pounds (32kg) and were relatively short; 3 ft. 4 in. to 4 ft. 5 in. tall (YANG, LU, & GU, 2013). Besides these attributes, the early Homo species exhibited further disparities in head and brain development. Modern humans presented well-developed brain capacities, smaller faces, smaller teeth, and jaws. 

Homo sapiens

In 2017, archaeologists discovered the skull, face, and jawbones, which they concluded that they belonged to early members of modern humans. The remains are estimated to be 315,000 years old. This is an indication that Homo sapiens lived 100,000 years earlier than archaeologists have always speculated (Stewart, K. (2014). Experts have always believed that the species originated in East Africa over 200,000 years ago. These species are likened to human beings because of their behavior and cognitive skills comprising environment utilization and hunting activities. Some of the main characteristics of Homo sapiens are; a high rounded braincase, knowledge on the use of stone tools.

Australopithecus afarensis

Australopithecus africanus is currently the oldest known early human from southern Africa. Australopithecus afarensis referred to as the “Southern ape from Afar,” is an extinct hominin that lived between 3.9 and 2.9 million years ago. Australopithecus afarensis was slenderly built, like the younger Australopithecus africanus. The Australopithecus afarensis is thought to be more closely related to the genus Homo, which includes the modern human species Homo sapiens, whether as a direct ancestor or a close relative of an unknown ancestor, than any other known primate from the same time.

The Paranthropus sp. is made up of the Paranthropus boisei, Paranthropus robustus, and Paranthropus aethiopicus. This species was in existence for nearly 1.0-2.3 million years ago (Stewart, 2014). Members of this species establish their habitats in wooded areas. They are considered to be bipedal given the anatomic orientation of leg and hips. Moreover, the cranial anatomy is richly accommodating sites for muscle attachment used different locomotory improvements. In contrast, the australopithecines have less developed anatomy structures.


Marean, C. (2012). When the Sea Saved Humanity. Scientific American22(1s), 52-59. doi:10.1038/scientificamericanhuman1112-52

Stewart, K. (2014). Environmental change and hominin exploitation of C4-based resources in wetland/savanna mosaics. Journal Of Human Evolution77, 1-16. doi: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2014.10.003

YANG, J., LU, B., & GU, X. (2013). Human evolution and human-influenced evolution of organisms in changing environments. Journal Of Systematics And Evolution51(3), 241-244. doi: 10.1111/jse.12020


First Essay: Environmental Change and Human Evolution

Anthropology 3700

Fall 2020

Essay Topic

How has the environment been a factor in human evolution?  How has the environment transformed humans and their ancestors, both biologically and culturally? 

You will be graded on your understanding of the readings and your ability to integrate the information.  Good anthropological writing is based on details.  Make your answer as complete as possible.  This essay is worth 14% of your total grade- more than two quizzes and more than several blogs.  Do not underestimate the significance of this assignment for your grade.

deMenocal, Peter B., 2019, ‘Climate Shocks’, Scientific American, special edition- Fall 2019: 10-15.

Marean, Curtis W., 2019, ‘When the Sea Saved Humanity’, Scientific American, special edition- Fall 2019: 25-31.

Write the essay.  The essay should be written professionally and cleanly.  You can use any editing style that you feel comfortable with or have used in the past.  No bibliography is needed for this essay.  You should focus your writing on the assigned readings.  Be sure also to support the essay readings with information from the class section on ‘Human Evolution.’  You must demonstrate to me your overall comprehension of human evolution.

No quotations!  Your overall score will be lowered by 10 points for each line of quotes. 

The essay has no word minimum or maximum.  You need to write an essay long enough to complete the assignment thoroughly. 

You need to discuss the specifics of the two articles.  Three-time periods are reviewed in the article:

2.9 to 2.4 million years ago

???????????????????????????????????????1.9 to 1.6 million years ago

195,000 years ago until 123,000 years ago

Describe what happened in each time period! What were the environmental changes?  ??There are four different species that you need to discuss: Australopithecus afarensisParanthropus sp., early Homo, and Homo sapiens.  Discuss all four. Which one fits with which time period?  Tell me how they changed physically, behaviorally, and culturally.

Submitting your paper for grading:

You will access “Turnitin” in the class Blackboard.  Upload your essay to this program.  I will not accept the essay in any other form.  The program will not work with Apple Safari. 

Do not copy text from another source. This website allows a comparison of your work with internet sources, published articles, and the papers of millions of other students throughout the U.S. and Europe.  The information is private and can only be accessed by the student and your professor.  It is a straightforward program.  After the analysis, Turnitin will submit a score and list similar sources.  If the score is over 18%, I will review the paper carefully for plagiarized materials.

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