Die menschliche Mischung

LONDON – Was macht einen modernen Menschen aus? Die biologische Antwort ist einfach: Er gehört der Spezies Homo sapiens an, die sich durch charakteristische Merkmale wie ein relativ großes Gehirn auszeichnet, das in einem abgerundeten Hirnschädel sitzt, durch kleine Augenbrauenbögen, ein kleines, flaches Gesicht, ein vorspringendes Kinn und ein leichtgewichtiges Skelett. Viele der biologischen Merkmale des modernen Menschen – zumindest jene, die als Fossilien erhalten geblieben sind – waren schon vor über 100.000 Jahren in Afrika und Israel vorhanden.

Populationen moderner Menschen zeichnen sich aber auch durch andere Faktoren aus – etwa komplexe Gesellschaften, Zeremonien, spirituelle Überzeugungen, Kunst, Musik, Technik und Sprache. Welche Merkmale sind entscheidend für die Definition eines „modernen Menschen“ und wie weit kann man zurückgreifen, um die Klassifizierung vorzunehmen?

Angesichts der Tatsache, dass sich die morphologischen Ausprägungen und Verhaltensmerkmale der Menschen unterschiedlich schnell entwickelt haben, wird diese Frage kontrovers diskutiert. Paläontologen, die die physische Evolutionsgeschichte des Homo sapiens untersuchen, werden unweigerlich anderer Ansicht über das sein, was einen frühen modernen Menschen ausmacht, als Archäologen, die prähistorisches Verhalten rekonstruieren.

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