On the Evolution of Modern Man

  • Valerius Geist


The evolution of Neanderthal man was conceived as a consequence of archaic sapiens (late Acheulean people) occupying productive river valleys in temperate climates, adapting to a life in which they depended entirely on the meat of large mammals for food, for increasingly longer periods of the year, and then penetrating along the river valleys into the productive periglacial zones. While Neanderthal man evolved in the north, there is evidence to indicate that human beings of a different adaptive syndrome were in existence, humans similar to ourselves, and not to the northern Neanderthal (Protsch 1973, Howells 1973a). Unfortunately, the archeological and paleontological record of Africa is so shrouded in controversy that it is best to look for guidance on what could have happened to human evolution elsewhere. My first task will therefore be to adopt a crude model of the paleoclimate of the Mediterranean basin, North Africa, and Europe as an indicator of evolutionary opportunities. From here I shall proceed directly to the adaptive syndrome of upper Paleolithic people and contrast it with that of Neanderthal man’s. This adaptive syndrome of upper Paleolithic people gives some clues as to the nature of their ancestors, a people relying heavily for their adaptation on cultural rather than biological means. Next I shall address myself to the change from the large dentition and prognathus jaw of archaic sapiens man to those of modern man, using essentially Waddington’s paradigm of natural selection; in particular, selection in populations at carrying capacity characterized by individuals with maintenance phenotypes. This tells us under what conditions the modern human face could have arisen. Thereafter, I shall look for analogies to mammalian evolution and return to probe human evolution in Africa once more.


Physical Fitness Submissive Behavior Cooperative Hunting Mountain Sheep Adaptive Syndrome 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valerius Geist
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Environmental DesignUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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