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Stratum plus. 1999. № 1

Vishnyatsky L. B. (St.-Petersburg, Russia)

The History of a Chance or the Emergence of Man

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Pages: 10-51

This small book is about human origins. Like many other works devoted to the subject it describes the biological history of hominids and primates in general, their systematics and phylogenetic relationships, the chronology and morphology of the most important fossils, and so on. At the same time, this book is not so about HOWs of human evolution as about WHYs of this process. Why did such a process as anthropogenesis take place? Why was it ANTHROPOgenesis? Put in other words, the following pages represent, first of all, an attempt to understand whether the emergence of man was just one of a multitude of possibilities, a result of a freak of chance or it was a materialization of some general trend inherent in the evolution of life. The analysis of several key events in the process of human evolution leads to two seemingly incompatible conclusions, which form the answer to the posed question. Very briefly this answer can be formulated as follows. While, on one hand, the anthropogenesis was a naturally determined and predictable episode in the development of the organic world, on the other hand it was a result of a number of coincidences. In a sense the emergence of man may be considered a consequence of a not obligatory and even hardly probable crossing in one point of mutually independent natural processes.

Information about author:

Leonid Vishnyatsky (St.-Petersburg, Russia). Doctor of historical sciences. Institute for the History of Material Culture, Russian Academy of Sciences.
E-mail: [email protected]

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