Like everything alive

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Like everything aliveMan is the master of the world. And at the same time, he is a representative of only one out of a million odd species of living beings that live on Earth. Perhaps it is worth giving the full zoological "title" of the crown of nature:

a type chordate
subtype vertebrates
class mammals
detachment primates
family hominids
genus Homo
view sapiens

The table clearly shows us that a person remains a biological individual and is subject in this capacity to the action of biological laws in all their fullness and strength.

Like everything aliveBlood continues through our veins to drive a living (and so easily vulnerable) heart. We still need to eat, drink, breathe. Microbes infect us with their poisons, and we get sick. As we age, our bones become harder and more fragile - we age.

But still, remaining dependent on nature, we got out of her unconditional power. She made us human, having carried out the most severe selection among our ancestors created by her - selection for rationality. And now, for tens of thousands of years, the role of natural selection has significantly weakened. In frosty weather people, roughly speaking, more hairy or with denser and "warmed" skin with oil do not get any advantages over less hairy and thinner - there are houses, stoves and central heating batteries, fur coats and fur suits.

A person who cannot keep up not only with a deer, but also with a turtle, will not die of hunger and will be able to leave offspring, which, what good, will inherit its slowness and still will also survive and be able to continue the race. Etc. There is practically no selection.

Like everything aliveThis removes the possibility of a gradual and spontaneous transformation of a person into a new species, but by no means excludes the very possibility of changing a person as a biological being. (But such a change, if it takes place, will happen according to the common will of people. Nature created us, but now it is no longer in her power to change us.)

Let us now pay attention to the definition of "sapiens" (reasonable), consider its meaning, and not the classification role. A person lives in society, and society is no longer subject to purely biological laws (although, due to the fact that it consists of biological individuals, he cannot completely ignore these laws). Moreover, the noosphere is a sphere of reason created by man on our planet, entering, according to the definition of Academician V.I. Vernadsky, a part of the biosphere as its product and its part, seizes power over the biosphere itself.

Man now acts as the ancient philosopher Diogenes. When Diogenes was taken into slavery and brought to the market for sale, he began to shout:

Who will buy himself a master? Who needs a master?

However, sometimes our complex and difficult relationship with nature resembles an old Russian parable about a man who caught a bear. He is told to drag the bear. "He's not coming!" - "So come here yourself!" - "He won't let you in!"

Like everything aliveThe more we have power over nature, the more we know about it and therefore are more afraid of damaging it, feeling our own dependence on various natural spheres - the biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and others.

The circumstances of the place

Anthropologist Ya.Ya. Roginsky says:

It is possible to outline five main ways of the impact of natural conditions on people. The simplest is a direct effect on their health, physical endurance, performance, as well as on their fertility and mortality. The second type of influence is through human dependence on natural means of subsistence, on the abundance or lack of food, i.e., game, fish, plant resources. The third way of influence is the influence of the presence or absence of the necessary means of labor; this factor is extremely diverse, and its role has historically changed dramatically.It is clear that in different epochs flint, tin, copper, iron, gold, coal, uranium ores were of different importance in the economy of society. The fourth way of influence of the environment on a person and his culture was created by the very nature of the motives that induce action, that is, what the historian Toynbee called a “challenge” thrown by nature to a person (challenge), requiring a “response” (response). Finally, the fifth source of the impact of the natural environment on people and their culture was and is of particular and extremely important importance - this is the presence or absence of natural barriers that prevent meetings and contacts between collectives (deserts, swamps, mountains, oceans). The absence of barriers, on the one hand, could turn out to be extremely useful for mutual enrichment of experience, and on the other hand, harmful in the event of a collision with superior forces of hostile collectives. The balance between these results could be highly volatile and unpredictable.

We will begin a story about the role of natural conditions in the history of mankind from the era when biological laws were still omnipotent over our ancestors. Let's talk about how, where, when and under what circumstances they "showed" this power, giving birth to the lord of nature or at least the first candidate for this post. And from all the circumstances of the action, let us first bring to the fore the clear "where?" - of course, with the accompanying word "why?"

Like everything aliveSo, we will talk about the origin of man. But I will not list our supposed, possible and dubious ancestors with more or less roomy skulls, heavy jaws and hairy backs. Let's talk only about one side of the problem of anthropogenesis - about where exactly the ancient monkey took the path along which its descendants, millions of years later, came to the pyramids and cosmodromes, and why certain stages of development of our ancestors turned out to be so clearly associated with certain regions of the world.

Realize yourself

Philosophers often say that for nature man is a way to realize himself. In this sense, we are truly the "crown of nature", the top rung of evolution, the highest form of life.

Do the laws of nature inevitably lead to the attainment of this highest form by matter, is evolution "obliged" to reach its peak? This is an old philosophical question. Today the answer of most scientists to it is optimistic: the emergence of reason is inevitable. And by no means because nature sets itself such a goal: to create a bearer of reason by all means. After all, nature cannot have any goals and objectives at all, it knows only causes and effects. But the connection of cause and effect is governed by the laws of nature. And among these laws, it is believed, there are those that, in their combined action, should give rise to reason. One of them is called the law of complication of self-regulating systems. Another is the law of complication of the control system, etc.

Evolutionary biologists have long ago discovered a chain of facts that can be called a manifestation of the law of cephalization (from the Latin "cephalic" - head): in the process of evolution, as a rule, the relative size of the skull in vertebrates increases, and at the same time the proportion of the brain in the body.

Perhaps cephalization is a special case of the rule according to which the control system of the organism is to be made more complex - of course, in the order of adaptation to natural conditions, which selects for the survival of the fittest.

Of course, among the heavenly bodies there are obviously unfavorable ones for the origin of life, there are those where life manages to pass only the very first, lowest stages of development. But the Universe is not just great, it is limitless, and in this limitlessness there must inevitably be found planets where life will be able to develop in a natural way before the appearance of reason. And since our Earth turned out to be one of such successful planets, the appearance of an intelligent creature on it was inevitable and became only a matter of time.

It turns out that sooner or later, on the wrong continent, so on another, not from one type of primordial monkey, but from the second or third, but a person had to appear. And where exactly, how and when - all this turns out to be an accident, that accident, which, as you know, is just a form of manifestation of necessity.

Like everything aliveHowever, the circumstances of the place and time of man's appearance are accidental only in a broad philosophical sense, in fact, they were set by nature, the process of development of our planet as a whole. And the problem of the place of human formation on Earth is part of the problem of the influence of the natural conditions around them on our ancestors.

The problem of the relationship between man and his environment

Academician I.P. Gerasimov writes:

... with all the importance of the purely anthropological, archaeological and ethnographic aspects of the problem of the origin of man - its "key" ... is precisely the problem of the relationship between man and his environment. This problem is extremely topical for our time and for the future of humanity. However, its historical roots, without which it is impossible to understand the present and predict the future, go back to the distant geological past, which, by the way, is increasingly being pushed back into the depths of time.

It is these historical roots that people who have gathered at the symposium are studying - they study it from different sides, because geographers and anthropologists, archaeologists and geologists, botanists and glaciologists met here.

Any species of animals, having adapted to certain conditions of their habitat in the best way, usually almost ceases to change. Selection becomes stabilizing, preserving the basic form of this species and rejecting living creatures that deviate from it, because they turn out to be less adapted to the same conditions.

But from time to time, natural conditions change, and under the now changed conditions, the advantages of the existing species often turn into disadvantages. The usual food disappears or almost disappears, the usual methods of protection from enemies become unusable ... Nature challenges living beings who find themselves in new conditions. If they will be able to survive at least partially and continue their kind - their happiness, they will not be able - will die out without leaving offspring. After such natural changes, natural selection begins to play not the former role of the "technical control department", carefully eliminating errors, and only, - now it is a dredge, throwing aside the sand and washing out a few gold grains from it, or, if we resort to another comparison, this is a sieve with large cells, through which it goes into the "dump", into biological nothingness, leaving no offspring, most of the individuals that previously might seem so adapted to life.

Our family, the hominid family, arose and developed precisely under the conditions of the most severe natural selection, in an era of serious climatic changes. Apparently, it is impossible to call them too harsh: too large-scale and rapid climatic cataclysms would have simply ruined our ancestors at a time when they did not yet know tools and were just great apes that lived in dense tropical forests.

Like everything aliveBut at that time - many millions of years ago - there was, according to geographers, a long, slow and steady climate change in tropical regions. Over the course of a year, even over a hundred years, the position seemed to change little, but after all, geological and geographical evolution had thousands and millions of years at its disposal. Mountains rose, forcing winds and waters to alter their ancient routes. Forests on vast territories gradually disappeared, their place was taken by savannas and steppes. Conditions changed, and the monkeys had to adapt to them in order not to die out. Conditions changed slowly enough for the adaptation to be carried out.

Evolution had time to try again and again options that could provide at least part of the previous owners of tropical forests to exist in new conditions.The ancient anthropoid ape was forced to descend from the trees already because the trees were almost gone. The former riches of plant food had become scarce, it was necessary to find new types of food and get used to them.

In one of his works, Academician I.P. Gerasimov examines in more detail the evolution of hominids under new conditions. From almost complete vegetarians, they became both herbivores and predators at the same time, and predators whose victims could be not only herbivores, but also carnivores. Having made the first tools, hominids (The existing great apes belong to the pongid family. Man and his ancestors, starting, in the opinion of most scientists, from the ramapptek, belong to the hominid family. By hominization, scientists mean an approximation to man in the broadest sense of the word .) became, by definition of the scientist, "armed predators", "predators of the extra class". This allowed them to completely free themselves from natural ecological systems, to leave their niche in nature.

But complete liberation from the influence of environmental conditions did not happen, Gerasimov emphasizes.

There is reason to believe, - he says, - that in the course of the further history of human society, the ecological factor not only retained its important evolutionary role, but even - at certain moments (boundaries) - created an environment ... of ecological crises that were of particular importance in the progress of mankind ...

However, Academician I. P. Gerasimov and Doctor of Geographical Sciences A. A. Velichko emphasized, one should not forget that “changes in natural conditions could have an impact on hominization only because at that time a family of great apes already existed. Here, as it were, there was a meeting in space and time of living beings, already “prepared” by the process of their biological development, with such a change in the natural environment, in which a qualitative transition from great apes to the first hominids was an evolutionary inevitability. "

And further such "meetings" in space and time of living beings and changes in natural conditions continued to serve evolution, ultimately creating Homo sapiens. And if in some part of our planet significant and important natural changes did not take place for a long time or they turned out to be too abrupt and played a fatal role, then all the same, at another time and on another part of the Earth, the "date" was a success.

Here is an example of climate change, fatal for one of the groups of our possible predecessors, which was analyzed in detail at the symposium (it should be noted, however, that the scientific ideas that will now be discussed are largely hypothetical and are not shared by all scientists).

It has been established that about 12-14 million years ago in the equatorial part of East Africa and on the Indian subcontinent south of the foothills of the Himalayas, the Ramapithecus that developed along the "human path" lived. Many specialists are inclined to enroll these our relatives into the hominid family. According to the Soviet anthropologist M.I.Uryson, Ramapithecus may have already walked on two legs and used, at least occasionally, natural objects as tools.

The birthplace of the Ramapithecs, according to some scholars, was East Africa; they penetrated into the territory of the Hindustan Peninsula soon (on the appropriate time scale) after their formation as a clan and perfectly took root in this and then fertile part of the Earth.

African and Indian Ramapithecus most likely belonged to the same genus or to closely related genera. Both those and others could, as a result of evolutionary development, turn into intelligent beings. But the fate of these two closely related genera developed differently, because the geological and climatic processes proceeded differently in East Africa and on the Indian subcontinent at that time.In that part of the Indian subcontinent where the Ramapithecs came from Africa, the climate was originally tropical and humid. Forests provided abundant food, and fertile savannas lay to the south of the forests. Moisture and life with it were carried to the new homeland of the Ramapithecus by warm moist winds blowing from the north. Once to the north of India, in the vast expanses of Central and Central Asia, lay the ancient sea, which received from the geologists who studied the traces left by it, the name of the Te-tis Sea. Its waters also swayed where mountainous countries rise today. Indeed, at that distant time, the formation of the Pamirs, the Tien Shan and the Himalayas was just going on. They only had to become the greatest mountains in the world in the era of alpine mountain building.

Like everything aliveBut the moment came when the stone belt of the Himalayas blocked the way for the wet winds from the Tethys Sea. And almost at the same time, at least the eastern part of this ancient sea itself disappeared from the planet. Nature has "betrayed" the Ramapithecs ...

The road to the Hindustan Peninsula was blocked to the northern winds, and instead of a mild climate south of the Himalayas, a sharply continental climate reigned for a while. The rainforests perished, giving way to the desert. Savannahs turned into dry steppes and semi-deserts. And Indian Ramapithecus far from yet had time to become people, they could adapt to the new natural environment only through changes in their body. But this required time and conditions. The turning point was too sharp for such a "solution to the problem." Indian Ramapithecs are extinct.

In East Africa, the situation was different. Over a large area east of Lake Victoria, for millions of years, the climate has remained warm and relatively flat, without major fluctuations. By the time of the Ramapithecs, there were no continuous tropical forests here (remember the climatic changes that pushed hominization), forests stretched only along rivers, and open spaces were occupied by savannas. Numerous lakes were surrounded by swamp thickets. There was more than enough food for plants and animals. Here our relatives survived.

This is how I.K. Ivanova describes the fate of two groups of Ramapithecus, confidently concluding:

There is no doubt that the natural conditions of a broad plan have determined the place of man's formation.

But was the African situation not too favorable from the point of view of evolution for the Ramapithecus - such as they already were? After all, evolution is a natural process, and natural processes, as already mentioned, have no goals, they only have reasons. If the Ramapithecs were best adapted to the nature in which they lived, and nature did not change, then the Ramapithecs had no reason to change.

But there were such reasons. Despite the fact that the general natural environment in East Africa was very attractive, it, according to I.K. Ivanova, did not at all provide the Ramapithecus with the quiet existence that, for example, the current great apes lead in the tropical forest.

Like everything aliveAn abundance of food? Yes it was. But there was also an abundance of "hunters for the same food", that is, competitors, and even hunters for these hunters, including the Ramapithecus themselves. The predators had plenty of space here, and they had to defend themselves against them. And modern gorillas or chimpanzees do not have serious enemies: the most terrible predators of today's rainforest are dangerous only to the young of these mighty creatures of nature.

Savannahs, the home of the Ramapithecs, are richer in dangerous predators than forests, and our ancestors were significantly inferior in strength to today's great apes.

But this is not enough. Floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters were quite common in East Africa. They forced our ancestors to change their habitual habitats every now and then, did not allow them, as they say, to stay too long. Meanwhile, neighboring districts and even, one might say, microdistricts, relatively small areas, here could differ sharply from each other. There were also forests, savannas, lakes and swamps.

Little of.All known so far finds of the oldest hominids in Africa are associated with the so-called Eastern Rift System, which lies east of Lake Victoria. Rift - in English "crack". At the end of the last century, the English geologist Gregory called narrow valleys tens of kilometers wide and hundreds of kilometers long, formed by fractures of the earth's crust, rifts - crevices. The striking variety of topography provided a variety of conditions in the surrounding areas.

From a geological point of view, it is by no means accidental that many volcanoes are associated with the Eastern Rift System (only large ones - more than seventy), and at that time most of these volcanoes periodically woke up, crashing down on the population of their surroundings.

Earthquakes are characteristic of this band.

Like everything aliveIn narrow valleys, avalanche blockages and severe floods threatened our ancestors.

It seems the set of dangers was severe enough. But, according to many scientists, we have every reason to be grateful to both earthquakes and hot lava, destroying all living things in its path. This point of view was substantiated at the symposium, speaking about the process of hominization, by the geologist A. A. Garibyants. He draws attention to the fact that in Africa, Europe, and Asia, fossil apes are found in areas where intense volcanic activity took place at that time.

... Finds ... are mainly correlated with the two great seismic belts of the world: all African finds - with the East African seismic belt, and the rest, with the exception of South China, - with the Mediterranean-Indonesian. South China correlates with the West Pacific seismic belt ... "Garibyants explains this by the life of monkeys in the forests on the slopes of the mountains, where" volcanism periodically created critical situations, forcing lifestyle changes that were prerequisites for progress.

The monkeys, expelled from their familiar territories by the next volcanic eruption, fell into new areas and violated the biological balance already established here. In the immediately and inevitably intensified struggle for existence, the monkeys were forced to switch from a purely plant-based diet to an omnivore.

To become a human, it was necessary to “overcome difficulties”, because natural selection serves as the mechanism of evolution, and in order for it to go quickly, representatives of each animal species must “pass exams” for the right to live long enough to have time to leave offspring. The disadvantages of conditions here turn into advantages.

So, the combination of natural conditions, successful for evolution, made East Africa the ancestral home of man. And it was there that, about five million years ago, a creature appeared, using tools and moving on two legs.

It is interesting to note that Garibyants in his speech spoke about the more important than is usually believed, the importance of volcanism for the evolution of all life on Earth. He sees a connection between the weak seismicity of the Australian mainland and the slowed down evolution of the fauna of this continent. In his opinion, the fact that the African fauna is distinguished by the maximum diversity of species and the rapid development of many of them is associated with a high degree of volcanism and mountain-building processes in Africa.

Academician I.P. Gerasimov and Doctor of Geographical Sciences A.A. Velichko note some correspondence between natural changes and the main stages of anthropogenesis and development of the material culture of society. At this dawn of the Paleolithic, the first stage of human development, in their opinion, corresponds to the stage of gradual cooling of the climate in most of the planet.

In the same collection "Primitive Man and the Natural Environment", a speech by D.V. Panfilov is published, who puts forward a new hypothesis about the origin of the hominid family, at odds with everything that scientists have asserted or suggested so far (science remains a science as long as it is ready consider each hypothesis, scientific in its approach to the problem, no matter how dubious it may seem at first glance).

DV Panfilov sees in humans a number of external features and physiological features, which, in his opinion, cannot be explained in any way based on the idea that our ancestors lived in the savannas.

It seems to him that the conditions of the savannahs, where there is often not enough water, where there are many large predators, where all living things are pursued by countless masses of bloodsucking insects, and tough grasses and thorny bushes cut the skin, could not have led to the fact that human skin became thin. and the body hair disappeared. Hominids have weak hearing and sense of smell, which should be of paramount importance in savannas; they are characterized by a daytime lifestyle, and in the savannas the sun beats down during the day and it is difficult to hide from it.

Conclusion? People of the modern type came to the savannahs, who knew fire, who owned reliable weapons, who built dwellings, moreover, they were already familiar with some of the skills of farming and animal husbandry. But where did they come from, these people? And where, if not in the savannas, did the transition from monkey to man take place?

According to D.V. Panfilov, the hominid family was formed on the shores of warm seas, where highly organized monkeys, and then prahumans, collected food in shallow water, especially at low tide. Here a vertical gait developed by itself - otherwise our ancestors would simply choke. The hairline turned out to be clearly harmful: when wet, it cooled the body, and when it dries, it became covered with a crust of salt. It was then that natural selection did away with wool.

The wide arched foot looks as if it is purposely adapted to walk on wet sand, fine gravel.

Panfilov sees adaptation to the coastal, amphibiotic lifestyle in many details of the structure of the human body, including the development of a nose with downward nostrils in humans so that water does not enter the respiratory tract when you dip your head, while in all modern monkeys the nostrils are directed to the sides or up.

Like everything alivePanfilov says: the diversity of the coastal environment, constant changes in the weather and food collection conditions have already provided grounds for improving the nervous system and complicating behavior. Tsunami strikes, on the other hand, contributed to mass natural selection, accelerating evolution, which created a brain “capable of predicting danger, guessing it in different environments, at any time of the day, abstracting this phenomenon from the rest, and this property of the human brain - the ability to abstract and foresee - is the basis of intelligent behavior ".

Development on this basis continued for tens of millions of years. Separate groups of littoral (coastal) hominids rose along rivers inland, adapting to local conditions, forming lateral evolutionary branches. According to Panfilov, it is the “traces” of such lateral branches that represent the bones of the Australopithecus and Pithecanthropus found by anthropologists. In a word, this hypothesis essentially asserts that those who are considered our direct ancestors are in fact just waste of the evolutionary path of the coastal monkey to man.

Only in the Quaternary era, when the ocean retreated and its level dropped, according to paleographic data, by 100 or more meters, many groups of higher hominids, who by that time had reached the level of Neanderthals and modern humans, left the usual coastal areas, which have now changed dramatically, and began to master river valleys and watersheds. They were already able to create dwellings, clothes, mastered fire for cooking, hunting and protection from winged blood-sucking insects.

Panfilov's scheme cannot be denied neither insolence, nor in integrity, nor in systematicity. But it has a significant drawback: the fossil bones of creatures living and dying mainly on the territory of the coastal tidal strip are almost impossible to find, they could not survive. The author of the hypothesis himself points out this shortcoming of his hypothesis. It remains purely speculative. It seems to me that it is also wrong. And yet it was worth talking about Panfilov's hypothesis. First of all, because in such a “non-standard” variant of our evolution, natural conditions are also assigned a very significant role.

Podolny R.G.

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