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The evolution of man is an area of study that will never fully be understood, however, evidence has
been accumulated to allow us to paste together a picture of what happened in the beginning of time. It
allows us to gather an idea of how man progressed to exist in the state in which we see him now. We can
see that the evolution of man was directly influenced by his environment. Man’s intellectual development
directly effected the physical changes that we see. It is apparent through observation that the
environmental changes also induced some of the physical changes that man underwent. These
environmental changes and seemingly intellectual development slowly refined man’s behavior, as well as
his way of life. We also can see how man develops along with the changes in sophistication of the tools he
used. We can observe that the progression of the tools coincide directly with the progression of the
evolution of man. As the technology, as simple as it was, slowly became more advanced, we see how the
apparent effect that it has on early man’s development and how those advances made, effected the actions
and behavior of man. It is essentially those changes in behavior and lifestyle which lead to man’s
evolution. In this paper, I will include some of my observations of the physical development of man from
ancient human-like animals to modern day man.

At the American Museum of Natural History I observed the exhibit of Lucy. Lucy was found in
Hadar Ethiopia and is the name given to a fossil skeleton of a hominid who lived over 3.2 million years
ago. Lucy stands as the most complete skeleton known of an early human predecessor. She is known to be
part of the bipedal primate know as Australopithecus afarensis. Lucy was expected to be twenty-five years
old and roughly four feet tall. What we know about Australopithecus afarensis is that they walked upright
and were able to climb trees. Australopithecus afarensis, like Lucy, had small skulls, small brain cases,
projecting faces, large chewing teeth and looked ape-like. Looking at Lucy, my tour guide pointed out her
primitive limb proportions. Although she did walk upright on two legs, her legs were very short, adopted to
climbing, indicating that she may have taken shelter in the trees at night. We can also observe that Lucy
had very long hands. The proportion of her hands in comparison to her short legs would implicate that she
walked in a different fashion than the way we do today. She would have had to swing her arms around,
making her motions similar to those of an ape.
Five million years after Lucy, Australopithecus africanus appears. This creature also walked
upright but lived in relatively open country and obtained food mainly by gathering and scavenging.
Australopithecus africanus’ face did not project as far as his ancestors, had smaller incisor teeth and a
slightly larger brain compared to body size. I enjoyed the exhibit of Australopithecus africanus because it
showed what he would have looked like with flesh. It looked like a hairy, short cross between man and ape.
In the same exhibit as Lucy was “Turkana boy”. He was found in 1984 at Nariokotome, Kenya.
Turkana boy existed about 1.6 million years ago and looks more like modern man. The Turkana boy was
five feet three inches and weighed one hundred and six pounds. Although we would view his skeletal height
as that being one of an adult, his bones were those of an adolescent. It was believed that if he had lived to
maturity, he would have grown to about six feet one inch and would have weighed approximately one
hundred and fifty pounds. The proportions of his body maximized the surface area to best shed body heat in
a hot dry open environment. He was more advanced than Lucy and had increased brain cell capacity and
had rock tools which was evidence of hand crafted tool kits which were primitive but sophisticated.
Turkana boy came about one million years after Lucy and it is interesting to see the difference in their
skeletal structure. He is tall and his neck is very close to the body, his skeleton reveals a more complex
being , whereas Lucy had a little frame and looks more animal-like.

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The next exhibit showed the skulls and tools of Paranthropus robustus (“near man”). This early
man lived in wooded to open environments, had a vegetarian diet, simple vocal communication, and had a
massive jaw and teeth build. Moving these massive jaws also required huge muscles supported by strong
bony crests atop the skull. These characteristics were directly related to their diet and means of food.
Living in a dry open country, these human relatives relied on the tough abrasive plan foods offered by the
As the environment changes from one that is wooded and forested, to one that is more open, similar
to country environment, it lays down the basis for all human evolution. With the open environment, these
creatures no longer climbed trees, but began walking, much in the fashion that we do today, over vast areas
of land. They moved from one placee to the other in search of whatever they could dig up from the
ground. However, it was supplemented by scavenged meat from carcasses, as well as small animals.

We can notice that the physical appearance of these early human relatives is somewhat distinct
from our own appearance. Their bodies were significantly darker and almost fully covered with hair.
These characteristics are ones which were a simple result of the environment of the time. These human
ancestors had no means by which they could cloth themselves, therefore, they appear to have dark skin
because of the extreme exposure to the sun that they faced. The fact that they spent all of their lives
exposed to the sun and other environmental factors also serves as the reasoning for their heavy body hair.
Their body hair served the same purpose as our clothes do for us. It was a way of insulating their bodies
The next exhibit was on Homo habilis, which was the earliest member of human lineage to have
made stone tools. Fossils found date Homo habilis to have lived about 2 to 1.5 million years ago. They are
included in our genus Homo because of the evidence found that links them to stone making. Their tools
were small and quite crude but with a few blows from a hammer-stone, the toolmaker would knock sharp
flakes from a cobble. The flakes were then used for cutting and scraping and the shaped core may have
been used for chopping. The stone making allowed for a more varied diet. While they killed the animals by
throwing rocks at them, they could now carve them with the sharp flakes of stone. The body proportions of
Homo habilis was for the most part similar to that of Australopithecus. However, we see an enlargement
of the brain case but the head and teeth become smaller. They no longer relied on the tough vegetarian diet
so the muscles in the head did not need to be as strong as before. Homo ergaster appears between 2 to 1
million years ago and used stone tools much like those of Homo habilis.

Next appears Homo erectus, who dated about 2 million years ago and thought to be the earliest
forms which we might recognize as actual human life. Their Brain was smaller than ours, however, larger
than the early human fossils. Erectus had a human like skull, and the brain was one thousand milliliters in
volume which was not far from the average, which is fourteen hundred milliliters. The brain of Homo
erectus was housed in a long , low braincase, sharply angled at the back and the eyes were overhung by
bony ridges. Although their chewing teeth and jaw structure were large in respect to our own, compared to
Homo habilis, these features were small. Some of the members are as tall as us and they were advanced
enough to use fire. They were followed by a group of intermediate humans and some of their fossils date
back to half a million years ago. The fossils found at site of Terra Amata were accompanied by stone tools
used for hammering and light duty anvils that were sharper but still crude. Traces of hut structure were
found with sampling frames, and inside were hearths and debris from stone working and ocher used for
Lastly, we have the Neanderthals in Europe and Western Asia that lived one hundred and fifty
thousand years ago. The Neanderthal brain was of modern size but it was housed in a long, low braincase
with a projecting bun at the back. A well defined bony ridge overhung each eye. The large projecting face
had sharply receding cheekbones and prominent nasal bones. They typical Neanderthals features were
adopted to a bitterly cold climate. They built shelter and cooking hearths. They also made clothing from
hides of animal skins. Stone tools were used to scrape hide, and the hide was held in their front teeth.
Because the teeth were used in such a manner, we see that they are heavily worn. The stone tools were
used in scraping and sharpening spears, as well as butchering meant and carrying out other domestic tasks.
The Neanderthals were our size and the hair on their bodies had decreased a great deal form their earlier
human relatives. The reason for this is that they now had the ability to use animal skins to keep them
warm. Also, with the skins covering their bodies, their skin became lighter because of less exposure to the
The progression and evolution of man seems quite evident. We have seen that it is most heavily
influenced by both environmental and technological factors. The environmental factors and changes
pushed the early human relatives towards a different way of living by changing their things like their diet.
However, the technological factors are essentially what allowed the early humans to develop further and
give him the ability to make clothes and shelter, as well as move past his vegetarian diet. All of these were
factors which induced a change in mans physical appearance and increased his cognitive ability. They are
all changes which were mandatory for man to have become what he is now. The fascinating fossils and
skeletons that we have now are able to tell us so much of mans evolutionary history but leaves many
questions unanswered. I found the exhibits at the museum not only interesting, but allowed me to have a
more concrete idea of what early man looked like and the way in which he lived.


Bibliography:

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It is only natural that in todays society of conflicting interests, people
with similar interests and views have banned together to garner influence
through their numbers. As James Madison noted in the Federalists Papers,
like-minded people naturally aggregate together. Two of the most
influential of such modern groups are the National Rifle Association (NRA)
and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Driven by the
common interests of their supporters, each of these organizations has
involved itself in government and society to become powerful voices in
The National Rifle Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to
promoting the legal use of firearms and protecting the right of United States
citizens to keep and bear arms. In addition to sponsoring numerous
education and training programs for gun owners, the NRA lobbies in
government to oppose gun control legislation (The National Rifle
Association Home Page: web). The NRA was founded in 1871 by a group
of former Union army officers who were irritated with the shooting skills of
their soldiers. The organization’s initial efforts focused on marksmanship
training. During the 1960s the role of the NRA began to change from an
organization promoting shooting skills to one of protecting the right to keep
and bear arms (The NRA Home Page: web). The assassinations of
President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther
King, Jr., convinced many Americans that tighter controls on firearms were
necessary. A group of influential NRA members urged the organization to
increase its political activities to defeat proposed gun control laws. Today,
the NRA objects to any restrictions on gun ownership, arguing that most
people use guns in a lawful fashion and that private ownership of weapons
is essential for personal safety. With a membership of about 3.5 million and
an annual budget of $80 million, the organization is governed by a
75-member board of members and has organized units in every state (The
NRA Home Page: web). The NRA bases its position on the Second
Amendment to the Constitution of the United States: “A well regulated
Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the
people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” The NRA argues that
this amendment confers upon individual citizens the right to possess
firearms without government interference or regulation.
The organization’s opposition to the Brady Bill, a federal handgun law
first proposed in 1985, helped to delay its passage for seven years (The
NRA Home Page: web). Presently, the NRA lobbies vigorously for the
passage of state laws allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons.
Furthermore, the NRA has warred to enact legislation in 13 states
prohibiting lawsuits against gun manufactures for the misuse of their
products.Just this October, a Cincinnati judge dismissed one such
lawsuit. The defense, of course, was assisted by the NRA (The NRA
Nonetheless, the NRA has recently seen a decline in membership as
school-shootings have terrorized the country and pushed gun manufactures
away from the NRA (James, NY Times 5/25/99: web). Following the
Littleton shooting, gun manufactures agreed to meet with government
officials to discuss certain gun restrictions. The NRA, adamantly opposing
new restriction on gun owners, refused to join them (Glaberson, NY Times
5/30/99: web). In all, negative publicity and a rift between the NRA and
gun manufacturers has weakened the organization. It has intensified its
membership drive that exploits fears about federal restrictions on gun
ownership. However, it has contributed to the loss of some members who
support the NRA’s traditional sport and safety programs but do not accept
the organization’s focus on gun control legislation (Butterfield, NY Times
3/3/99: web). Among those resigning their NRA membership was former
U.S. President George Bush (James, NY Times 5/25/99: web).
The NRA is guided by two influential affiliates. The Institute for
Legislative Action, the NRA’s lobbying arm, advises lawmakers and builds
public support for the rights of gun owners through advertising and
direct-mail campaigns. The NRA’s Political Victory Fund is a political
action committee that raises money to support political candidates who
endorse the organization’s objectives (The NRA Home Page: web).

Because of its great financial resources and ability to mobilize its
membership, the NRA has become one of the most effective single-issue
interest groups in the United States. Through fund-raising programs like
Friends of the NRA that seek out private individuals and corporations such
as Miller Brewing Co., Sturm Ruger ; Company and Kawasaki, the
NRAs Political Victory Fund has been able to grant millions of dollars to
political candidates (James, NY Times 5/25/99: web). In the 1993-1994
election cycle, the NRA, longing to repeal a ban on the manufacture of
certain semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity ammunitions clips,
donated $5.6 million to candidates sympathetic to their cause. In contrast,
anti-gun organizations could only donate $500,000 to candidates. This
ultimately led to the repeal of the ban, as 190 of the 206 representatives
who had received NRA money voted to repeal (Clymer, NY Times
3/23/96: web). Representative Charles Schumer angrily noted that the
repeal was a payback for the NRAs contributions, while Vice-President Al
Gore said: This is not complicated. This is an IOU to the NRA
(Clymer). In the end, however, the NRA, in a tremendous show of political
The NRA also has donated more than $17 million to sponsor gun
safety programs, personal protection training, shooting competitions, hunter
education, wildlife conservation research, shooting range development, and
law enforcement. The “Eddie Eagle” program develops gun-safety
educational materials for preschool and elementary students, the
CrimeStrike program works to reduce crime and advocate harsher penalties
for people who use firearms to commit a crime, and the Youth Hunter
Education Challenge offers courses in marksmanship and gun safety (The
In many ways, the aged in the United States are victims both of the
youth orientation of modern times and of a tendency toward denial of
death. As a result, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
was founded in 1958 by Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus to reverse the stereotype
of old people as weak and dependent, and to improve the status of the aged
(The American Association of Retired Persons Home Page-web). AARP is
a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping older Americans.
AARP’s motto is: “To Serve, Not to Be Served.”
Today, the organization has more than 30 million members and
maintains more than 4000 chapters across the United States. Membership
is open to all persons over the age of 50, whether working or retired and
membership dues serve to financially support the organization (The AARP
Home Page-web). AARP monitors local and national legislation of interest
to its members. However, AARP is a nonpartisan organization that does
not endorse political candidates. AARP has combated age discrimination
in employment by supporting the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
It has funded programs to educate people about its guidelines and has
urged Congress to remove any loopholes in the bill that may lead to age
discrimination. AARP has also fought to better transportation for the
elderly. Citing that public transit should encompass more routes along
which the elderly travel and offer better facilities, AARP has pressured
Congress to better fund the Intermodal Transportation Efficiency Act (The
AARP Home Page: web). It has advocated for extended pedestrian
walkways, better paratransit and more driver education programs for the
elderly. As a result of this drive, cities throughout the country have
adopted paratransit system that accommodate old peoples commuting
AARPs greatest efforts, however, lie in its struggle to reform
Medicare. AARP has helped to bring Medicare fraud to the forefront of
national policy.Their investigations have shown that Medicair doctors
regularly file false reports to collect government money, that Medicare
help-lines are often disconnected and that Medicare treatment is often
sacrificed by doctors for the sake of making more money (Pear, NY Times
2/21/99: web). In all, AARP has co-sponsored a campaign to cease the
Medicare fraud and abuse that has cost the government $12.6 billion in
improper payments and has increased patient premiums (Lawlor & Pear,
NY Times 5/25/99 & NY Times 2/21/99: web). AARPs campaign
encourages people to closely monitor Medicare doctors and to report any
suspicions of abuse to a Medicare fraud hotline (Pear). Furthermore,
AARP has urged Congress to better enforce the False Claims Act against
Medicare abuse. This has resulted in 326 criminal convictions last year, up
from 140 in 1994 (The AARP Home Page: web).
AARP also runs an extensive nationwide volunteer network aimed at
improving the self-worth and self-reliance of senior citizens. More than
160,000 volunteers are involved in various AARP projects. The
Grandparent Information Center provides information and support to
grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, Tax-Aide provides help
with taxes, and the 55ALIVE/Mature Driving program offers members
courses in safe-driving (The AARP Home Page: web). AARP also offers
training for lawyers who represent the elderly and the association’s Andrus
Foundation awards grants for research in gerontology.

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Finally, AARP, through its AARP/VOTE program, maintains a web of
representatives throughout the country (The AARP Home Page: web).The
representatives are especially trained to discuss issues relevant to the elderly with
government officials. They also hold public issue forums on the state of national
policy. Because of their publicity and fanfare, these forums act as means of
AARP and the NRA are clearly influential organizations in the United States.
Although they have offended many individuals for their seemingly selfish,
narrow-minded pursuits, these organizations provide orderly and comprehensive
backdrops for Americans to express themselves. However, the enormous influence
that the NRA draws from its monetary resources is a frightening testament to the
governments dependence on private cooperations that hold disproportionate
amounts of power.Campaign funding laws must be enacted to prevent such
governmental dependence, or the government will ultimately become a mere
Bibliography:
www.nra.com
www.aarp.com

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