IB Cultural Anthropology/The Nature of Culture/Adaptation

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On their own, humans are not very good at surviving. Humans have weak muscles relative to their size and even the few they have are not very agile. They lack a strong hide and do not have much fur. In fact, humans are physically inferior to nearly every other species on the planet. The evolutionary trait that humans have grown to compensate for this physical weakness is culture. Culture provides humans with the knowledge of how to survive in their environment. Methods for food-getting and creating shelter are purely cultural traits- humans are not born with this knowledge.

Because environments change over time, the culture living in that environment, too, must change over time. Because cultures must constantly adapt to meet the changing needs of societies, cultures are dynamic systems. Anthropologists often take this into account and periodically update ethnographies with an extra chapter dedicated to changes in the culture since the ethnography was written.


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