Hunting the First Hominid
In the article “Hunting the First Hominid”, Pat Shipman examines humanity’s quest to find its origin. She observes how people are eager and anxious when they hear the discovery of a new hominid species. She notes the differences that people have concerning hominids, and this makes the basis of her discussion. People have different opinions concerning the important concepts of the constituents of a hominid. People cite factors such as the mental and thinking capacity, ability to make tools, hunting skills, and bipedal walking as the most significant factors in hominids. However, people tend to disagree on the exact measure of importance concerning these factors. Shipman looks at the discovery of various species in relation to humanity. She examines them critically, based on the features that the species exhibit. Shipman observes the limitation of modern archaeological tools in determining the number of hominid species. She criticizes past research on the early discoveries, showing the need for humanity to reexamine their origins keenly.
Shipman warns that it is misleading to observe the key features that distinguish humans from apes, although it is relatively easy to do so. This is because of the shared features between them, and the effects of evolution in changing those features. Many species that were there in the past are no longer present. Although people claim connections to the gorillas and chimpanzees, these species were not the first apes. The first hominid species were not humans and were not similar to modern humans. Shipman argues that having brains does not make one a hominid. She argues that they might be like apelike creatures, which do not have sexual dimorphism. Another argument she brings out is that humans are hominids because of their thick dental enamel.
In pointing out these limitations, Shipman hopes to show that the concept of evolution is not as simple as many people presume. She notes how the various archaeological findings are proof of the difficulties in distinguishing humans from apes. In her conclusion, Shipman notes that it is difficult to tell humans from apes, because both have teeth, jaws, arm, and leg bones. By doing this, she limits the power of human complexity, which distinguishes humanity from animals. She has not expounded on the research done on brains, since it would not be possible to do so, using the modern tools. There is much more to humanity, other than what is presented in archaeological findings. Some of these elements are hard to measure because they are ingrained in people.
I think that what makes humanity different from other species is the ability to reason and think. Humans are able to do more things because they are intelligent. People have the capacity to use their intelligence to do what they want. They learn as they interact with others around them. Humans have the capacity to train other species and use them to their advantage. This is clear from the animals in circuses and from the domesticated animals around the homes, which have learnt different tricks. The intelligence use of skills and abilities, and using these factors to influence other species is distinct in humans. Although monkeys and other apes might have certain capabilities, they do not have the ability to influence the other species to do what they want. Most of the animals, which learn these skills, learn them from humans. Therefore, humans are also distinguished by their ability to train other species in ways that are not natural to the species. Other hominids are capable to teaching their young ones, but they only teach them the skills that they learned and acquired in an effort to survive in their habitats. They do not teach them the skills that do not come naturally to them.