Anthropology For Dummies, 2nd Edition
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Modern humans have physical and behavioral differences from ancient humans. When you're studying anthropology — specifically, modernity in humans — keep these points in mind. They highlight the most important characteristics of anatomical and behavioral human modernity:
  • Anatomical modernity is having anatomical characteristics indistinguishable from modern, living humans. Appearing by 100,000 years ago, these characteristics include a larger brain (averaging 1,450 cubic centimeters), a larger body overall, and the presence of a chin.

  • Behavioral modernity is behaving in ways that are indistinguishable from modern humans; it appears by 100,000 to 50,000 years ago and includes symbolism (the use of one thing to represent another thing), complex language (with complex grammar), and complex tool use (such as the use of symmetrical tools).

  • Modern humans colonized sub-Himalayan East Asia by 80,000 BP (before present, a term archeologists use), Southeast Asia and Australia by 40,000 BP, Europe at least by 30,000 BP, the New World by 14,000 BP, and the Pacific and Arctic by 1,000 BP.

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Cameron M. Smith, PhD, teaches in the anthropology department at Portland State University in Oregon. His anthropological experiences include searching for early human fossils in East Africa and learning about traditional hunting methods in arctic Alaska. His research has been published in The American Journal of Physical Anthropology and The Journal of Field Archaeology. He is the author of The Top Ten Myths About Evolution (endorsed by the National Center for Science Education) and coauthor of Anthopology For Dummies.

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