Studying Cultural Evolution at the Tips: Human Cross-Cultural Ecology

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1796 Words
Date:  2022-05-16


The objective of the study is to identify if human cultures and their cultural traits are proportionately dispersed, as predicted by the neutral theory of biodiversity, or whether they show non-proportionalities that could be explained with evolutionary reasoning (McCall, 55). It focuses on 97 indigenous communities and 24 of their cultural traditions. Cultural traits adjust more expeditiously in response to changes in the human habitats. The communities whose data was collected for this study were from four continents namely; Africa, Europe, Asia, and America. According to the article the cultural traits of the said communities are partially dependent on the geographic region and as such, they are dispersed proportionately in line with the neutral theory of biodiversity. A pitfall of this study is the general comparison and mis-categorization of cultures which may give inaccurate findings. The unique histories of the various cultural traits make them incomparable.

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The Theory of Evolution, Other Theories, and the Process of Human Colonization of America

The article seeks to establish the peopling process of Americans and the adaptation challenges faced by the first human explorers of the American continent. The study asserts that most theories used to explain the process have been focused more on the chronology of events and not the theory of evolution. This theory presents archaeologists with two approaches in their study; the human behavioral ecology and selectionism. The biological and archaeological data gathered from the continent regarding humans rely on the evolution theory to find meaning since it aids in understanding the changes in demography and biogeographical uncertainties about the distribution of populations in various areas. According to the article, archaeologists have not fully integrated the extensive use of existing human biological data (Borrero, 219). The evolutionary exploration of the American continent involves only the Homo sapiens species. The article explains that there was constant dispersing of people in the American continent and as such, movement of animals and human beings was not difficult. The findings of this study identify that the primary contribution of the theory of evolution to archaeology associates with the tempo and method of human radiation. The major pitfalls identified in this article are the exaggeration of the role of mega mammals and caves in past subsistence systems and settlements (Borrero, 218).

Archaeology and Human Evolution

The article seeks to identify the role of archaeology in the evolutionary achievements of the modern humans. Archaeology helps to understand the evolutionary processes through the study of the people's material culture such as artifacts, baskets, and buildings. Archaeologists also engage in excavation activities to find more contextual clues regarding the evolution of the human race which include the location of artifacts and their relation to other material culture. Archaeology is an important aspect in understanding the human evolution since it provides records that contain abundant evidence regarding the early human behaviors (Tyron et al, 378). The artifacts gathered and studied through archaeological activities give an idea of the events that transpired in the past such as the time taken to make a stone tool, use it to slaughter a dead animal and avail the meat to the family. The archaeological traces provide evidence that the hominins made use of tools such as bows and arrows to access food and the earliest of them are stone tools from sediments found at Gona, Ethiopia and are 2.5 million years old (Tyron et al, 378). The findings indicate that the archaeological records regarding the material culture provide a clear understanding of the evolution process and success of the humans.

On Human Evolution

The article seeks to establish the distinct features of the human race that separates them from animals. This is achieved by analyzing the arguments of various authors regarding the evolution of the hominin lineage. According to the report, the summaries provide archaeological and fossil-based evidence that supports the evolution of mankind and the emergence of modern humans (Harcourt and William, 313).

The articles provide a concise comprehension of the origin of humans through the evolution theory. The use of archaeological activities makes it easier to understand the evolutionary process through the presentation of records that indicate events that transpired in the past. The evolution theory and the study on the dispersion of cultural traits support the findings on the peopling process of the American continent and the problems encountered by those who explored the American continent. The topic of evolution relates to anthropology since both of them are concerned with the study of humans and their behavior in the past. Evolutionary anthropology seeks to establish the evolution of human physiology and behavior through natural and social science.

The study of various cultural traits and how they were dispersed during evolution relates to anthropology's objective of providing information regarding cultures of various communities and how they associate with each other. The evolution theory traces the culture traits of humans from several years back thus giving a basis for the characteristics seen in the modern humans. Through the studies carried out in different communities, anthropology gives a broader picture of the various traits by identifying the distinct cultures that specific societies portray. A comparison of several anthropology studies gives an understanding of the manner in which the cultural traits were dispersed in the evolutionary era.

Archaeology, as seen in evolution, is essential in providing details of past activities through the study of the human material culture. Similarly, anthropology seeks to obtain information on various societies through a study of their artifacts and special items they may have preserved from the past due to their importance in strengthening the culture and traits of the people. Archaeological activities provide anthropologists with record-based evidence regarding the behavior of humans during evolution. The ethnographic researchers rely on the information to trace the different cultural traits they find in the communities that they seek to study. Also, the data gives probable reasons as to why a range of communities may have common cultural traits. The similarity of cultural traits among communities can be traced back to the geographical dispersion in the evolutionary era. Societies which share cultural traits are found to have been non-proportionately dispersed through the evolution theory to the same location.

Though the four authors are focused on establishing reliable and evidence-based information regarding the evolution, each of them takes a unique approach on the same. Luis, for instance, looks into the peopling of the Americans and the challenges faced in exploring the American continent. He argues that archaeologists have not assimilated the use of human biological data. On the other hand, Christian et al, contend that archaeology presents a concrete approach to understanding evolution through the study of the material culture. In this regard, there are differences as to whether the evolution should be studied on the basis of biological data or the material culture of the hominins. There are further differences in the dispersion of cultural traits based on the authors' arguments. Lauren asserts that the cultural traits of the said communities are partially dependent on the geographic region and as such, they are dispersed proportionately in line with the neutral theory of biodiversity. On the other hand, Luis illustrates that there was constant dispersing of people in the American continent and as such, movement of animals and human beings was not difficult. According to Luis, human cultures and their cultural traits are non-proportionately dispersed based on the theory of evolution.

There are various ethical issues that arise in anthropological studies such as confidentiality and honesty when dealing with human subjects. The dignity and prestige of the communities under study should be preserved. However, none of the four authors has outlined or discussed the various ethical problems that relate to anthropological research. Ethical concerns are bound to arise when dealing with communities and human subjects. Anthropological researchers are required to make ethical considerations based on the needs and preferences of the communities under study. For instance, a researcher should not disclose the identity of human subjects who have sought anonymity. Non-compliance with the requests of such subjects compromises their chances of participating in future studies thus affecting the ability of a fellow researcher who seeks to understand the community's culture and cultural traits. Anthropological researchers are required to be honest while undertaking the study and presenting the findings. They are responsible for ensuring that the results they provide are factual and not falsified so as to enhance the public's belief in research and its findings. Ethical behavior is an important aspect of the work of an anthropological researcher and therefore, plans should be put in place to address the various ethical concerns that may arise while undertaking any study.

Through the anthropological perspective on evolution, I have learned a new thing regarding the human culture and cultural traits. The theory of evolution asserts that the human traits were non-proportionately dispersed and are not dependent on the geographical location. This notion provides a basic understanding to an anthropologist on the origin of human culture and cultural traits. The knowledge on cultural dispersion would help an anthropological researcher undertaking a study on a set of communities to understand the extent of the similarities in their traits and the contributing factor to common cultures. Also, a researcher would be able to comprehend why some communities may have abandoned some practices yet they are active in other neighboring or far off societies. Cultural dispersion through the evolution theory explains the common geographical location of communities that share traits and exercise similar human cultures. When carrying out an anthropological research, an anthropologist would most likely come across a scenario in which the differences in cultural traits and practices in various communities are based on the geographical scope in which the said societies reside.


In my view, ethical considerations are an essential aspect of the work of an anthropological researcher. Ethical conduct guarantees that the study is undertaken in a manner that enhances the objectives of the research thus promoting accountability and trust. Researchers in their line of duty should handle matters with utmost professionalism when tempted to violate the ethical code of conduct due to the nature of situations they come across during their study activities (Spradley and David, 33). The human subjects used in anthropological research pose an ethical concern that calls for the attention of the researchers. It is important to seek the consent of all human subjects before undertaking a study in which they are respondents. Also, the anthropologist carrying out the research should ascertain that the safety and dignity of human subjects are preserved. It is also important to ensure that research mode is of benefit to both the anthropologist and the respondents under study. The conduct of all researchers is governed by the ethical regulations that protect the human subjects involved in the study and the public to whom the research findings are presented. Ethnographic researchers are r...

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Studying Cultural Evolution at the Tips: Human Cross-Cultural Ecology. (2022, May 16). Retrieved from

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