In order to talk about a human and its origin it is important to find out who a human is. It is not a scientific term and it has many interpretations. The definition chosen here is the following: a human is a complicated creature, who can be called a bipedal animal with consciousness, high intellect, and verbal ability as the main distinctive traits. High intellect of a human implies the evolution of the ability to think, comprehend art, perceive the environment, form the beliefs, as well as the development of many different skills such as tools-making, settling the dwelling places, using different techniques when creating ornaments or drawing, and many other qualities. If human is a bipedal animal, it means that the animal and the human are relatives and have some common features. According to Darvin’s theory, humans are far relatives of Hominoids, who were also the ancestors of apes. As the animals of all species are constantly changing and adapting to different life conditions, some species become extinct; others go forward and improve their skills or appearance. Approximately 5 million years ago, the physiology of some heavy Hominoid primates underwent some changes: their brain grew bigger, and they became bipedal, the form of the skull and spine has also changed. Consequently, their appearance and behavior were changing step by step and, finally, led to modern human appearance. To be more precise, among the representatives of Hominoids these are hominins, the representatives of Hominini tribes, who are regarded as human’s ancestors. Such Pre-Australopithecines (7mya-4,4mya) as Sahelanthropus chadensis, Orrorin tugenensis, Ardipitecus ramidus, whose fossils were found on the territory of Africa, are not proved to be the hominins, while Australopithecus, Paranthropus, and such later Homo species as Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo floresiensis, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo neanderthalensis, Homo sapiens belong to hominins. As a result, it is possible to state that humans are the final stage of the evolution, hominins are inferior creatures, who are situated on the lower steps of evolution.
According to biological studies a human belongs to the order of Primates, the family of Hominids, which also includes the apes. It is important to mention that it is scientifically proved that the similarity of chimpanzee’s and human’s DNA is more than 95 %, which proves that they have the same ancestor. Therefore, nowadays apes and humans have some common feature as well. As the chimpanzee can be defined as the closest living relative of a human, it is quite interesting to compare their behavioral and physical traits. Three physical traits that will be discussed further are the ability to talk, longer legs than arms, S-shaped spine; the behavioral traits are religious beliefs, art comprehension, and ability to make tools.
Comparing a chimpanzee with a human, it is obvious that the first behavioral trait, the ability to talk, is distinctive only for a human, but not for a chimpanzee. It is connected with differences in the brain development: human’s brain is much bigger; it has a speech center, which the chimp lacks. Moreover, the scientists state it is connected with difference in the genetic composition of these two species as chimps lack the language gene. As the origin of speaking ability is still disputable, it is difficult to choose only one reason, but the fact is that the chimps lack the ability to talk which is a distinctive feature of being a human. Another physical trait which also makes a human and chimp different from each other is the proportion of arms’ length to legs’ length. Human’s legs are longer than arms, it increases strides and it is much easier for humans to walk on big distances. As hands are used only to hold or take things, they are not destined to be used as footing unlike the chimp’s ones. Chimpanzees’ arms are longer as they need them as footing while walking; the shape of the hands differs as well. In contrast to chimps, who have a C-shaped spine, humans’ spine is S-shaped; it helps to keep the trunk centered over pelvis. Human’s spine got such shape due to lumbar vertebrae extension and getting heavier. It is clear that the abovementioned physical differences in skeleton structure between the chimpanzee and the human are caused by adaptation to bipedalism.
Speaking about three behavioral traits, we find that among all only making tools is typical for chimpanzees. They can sharpen sticks for dragging up ants or even use them as a shovel leaning on one leg and forcing the spear deepen into the ground with the help of arms. It was observed that chimps choose stones of a specific shape to split the nuts; afterwards they would put a stone on its place and take it again from there, not look for another one. Chimps can also make “cups” out of big leaves to drink water, or sponges out of the chewed leaves to gather some liquids. No evidences of traits connected with art or religious demonstrations were observed among chimps, though there were several occasions when chimps appreciated listening music and even replayed some pleasant tunes, but these are not common events. The chimpanzees do not bury the dead and do not draw or create any ornaments. It proves that the level of chips intellect is low comparatively to humans’. It is obvious that humans and chimps are different creatures. Although they have the same ancestor, humans are much more developed, and their physical traits caused by getting used to bipedalism are much different from chimps’. Consequently, chimps can be regarded as inferior creatures who are not as cultured and developed as humans.
Looking through the hominins, who were the Homo sapiens’ ancestors, Homo neanderthalensis, who lived in parts of Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East can be marked out. He is the first of the hominins who can, probably, be labeled as a human. These species died out mysteriously 28,000 years ago, but the fossils assigned to Homo neanderthalesis prove that these species had much in common with modern humans. Not all of his physical and behavioral traits coincide with Homo sapiens’ ones, but many scholars believe that he possessed enough traits to be considered a human. To my mind, such view has enough evidence to be true. First of all, Neanderthals were bipedal and had muscular body. Scholars made a conclusion that Neanderthals looked like modern creatures in very cold places. Though they had short limbs, their legs were longer than their arms; the proportion is almost the same as modern humans have.
According to the sizes of skulls it is possible to state that their brain was big enough to have some intellect and even be capable of advanced thought. Though Neanderthals were not very intellectual, they were not stupid. Moreover, the scholars suppose that they had the language gene and consequently could talk, which is the next evidence that move them closer to modern people. Using 50,000-year-old fossils found in Europe and a computer synthesizer, the team of scholars even managed to generate a recording of how a Neanderthal was pronouncing the letter “e.” It sounds different from the modern human’s pronunciation but the scientists state that the reason is that Neanderthals lacked the “quantal vowels” modern humans use. It means that they could not use different size vocal tracts, which nowadays help people understand one another, so their speech was limited. Still Neanderthals were first hominins who could speak.
Another trait of a modern human which coincides with the Homo neanderthalisis’ is the shape of the spine. As Neanderthal was already bipedal as the modern human is, his skeleton structure was very similar to modern human’s, his spine is S-shaped as well to help to keep the trunk centered over pelvis; lumbar vertebrae is also extended and heavier. Such form helps humans body to cope with different kinds of load. All in all, it is clear that physically Neanderthals differed from Homo sapiens only with their prognatic face, big nose, small chin and short limbs while the main physical traits as verbal speech, bipedalism, limbs proportion, and shape of the spine are the same.
Some primitive religious views were also familiar to Neanderthals. They buried the dead, and, probably, even had some ritual or ceremony at burial. In 50,000-year-old Neanderthal burial ground that has been unearthed in Spain all the buried individuals have been found in the same position: arms folded such that the hands were close to the head. If it held meaning the Neanderthals, therefore, may have conducted burials and possessed some symbolic thoughts on the life after death. That would also mean that Neanderthals were able to form some beliefs on the world around and were conscious in some way, which also is the distinctive feature of humans.
The Neanderthals were quite skilled toolmakers. It is proven by the found fossils that they made wooden spears, hafted spear points, retouched edges. They also found new tool making technique, a disc-core technique, which depends on careful core shaping and needs more skills to remove more flakes from one core. The most important thing about this new technique invented by Neanderthals is that it helped to produce more usable tools from one piece of raw material, which proves the raise of intellect of Homo neanderthalis. Improving the techniques which are used is also common for modern human; it shows that the individual is able to think and to use the material he has more wisely.
The archeologists have found red and yellow ochre, perforated and grooved animals’ bones and teeth, which date back to 100kya. Though, it is difficult to prove that these findings are the pieces of ancient art. To natural causes there also were found bone tools, pierced and bones and teeth, blade tools, carved bone pedant, shelter construction dated as 40-27kya. Remains of some of the personal ornaments, rings, awls, pierced animal teeth and ivory pendants can be the evidence that Neanderthal created different jewelry with their own hands. The shell jewelry found in Slovenia 50kya is pierced, which indicates that it was worn, and is pigmented which indicates that is was painted. Another interesting fossil which can help to define the art abilities of Neanderthals is a possible flute, a bone with evenly spaced holes in it. If it is not a random gnawing and puncture by carnivores, the finding suggests the idea that the Neanderthals had some musical abilities. The abovementioned arguments show that the behavior of the Neanderthals was very close to modern humans’. It is possible to state that they definitely were good toolmakers, who were smart enough to improve new techniques and create new tools. Neanderthals were likely to have some primitive religious beliefs connected with burials; they also were likely to create some pieces of art like jewelry, to draw, and to make some music.
Finally, it is obvious that the Neanderthals can be called first humans, as according to all six chosen traits (three behavioral and three physical), they are very similar to modern people. Though some of the features (speaking, religious views, art) are not properly developed and are on more primitive level, it is determined by their lower evolution level. When it comes to chimps, it is obvious that human and chimps have the same ancestors, but according to six chosen traits, only one is possessed by the chimps. They are more likely to be the inferior creatures. If the qualities the human should possess are consciousness, high intellect, and verbal speech, it is clear that chimps are not likely to have them. They are a little similar to human in the physical way and some lower behavioral elements, while Neanderthals have all the distinctive human traits on the level, which is typical for the initial phase of being a human.