Introduction There is a unique contrast between primates such as chimpanzees and human beings in regards to feeding, as humans must rely upon another individual to be fed at least until the age of six (Gibbons, 2008). This is a situation unlike any other primate in that human beings are reliant upon each other as a means of survival through feeding, and without this dependence, would not live for long periods of time (Gibbons, 2008). This is an important reminder of the complex mental capacity of human beings and how this differs from almost any other living being; furthermore, human development is highly complex and requires an ongoing effort to recognize the needs of human beings that are different from all others (Gibbons, 2008). It is important to acknowledge that human beings possess advanced capabilities and take their time with the development process, thereby supporting lengthier developmental experiences during infancy, through childhood and adolescence, and into adulthood that are highly specific for this type of species (Gibbons, 2008).
Human development is associated with the aging process and essentially begins at birth, whereby there are significant stages associated with each stage which occurs at different periods throughout the life span (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2015). Therefore, it is necessary to understand how human development evolves and creates patterns of growth that occur on a routine basis for all human beings, even if the specific stages of development may be slower in some instances. The unique nature of human growth and development support the knowledge that humans develop much more slowly than most other species and face a set of unique challenges through their development that are not shared with other living beings (Gibbons, 2008). This reflects the importance of understanding the ancestry of human development and how this has contributed to the evolution of human beings over millions of years and the need to understand how and when development slowed down and childhoods were extended within the human species as they exist today (Gibbons, 2008).
Understanding human development is not a simplistic process and requires significant effort to recognize the differences between this species and others with some similar characteristics, such as chimpanzees. One question to consider is the role of delayed reproduction, which contributes to a challenging set of circumstances which have largely escaped humans, whereby advancing the species continues because there are billions of human beings on planet Earth (Gibbons, 2008). This raises questions regarding the basis of current human development, which is believed to have taken place around 1.6 million years ago in H. erectus and whereby the initial changes in human development that still exist today began to take place (Gibbons, 2008). In addition, a pelvis located from this era is believed to be from the same species and resembles modern brain development, much of which begins in the womb; however, the brain size of this species was not the same as the modern human being (Gibbons, 2008). It is also believed that in a modern context, extensive human brain development in the womb requires a slower rate of growth during childhood due to the metabolic requirements associated with brain development during this period (Kuzawa et.al, 2013). Nonetheless, the similarities warrant further discussion regarding the importance of human development and how human beings transformed over millions of years to their current developmental state.
The development of the first members of the current species of H. sapiens is relevant because it supports the belief that the final extension of childhood development emerged around 200,000 year ago (Gibbons, 2008). It is believed that the historical need for a slower rate of childhood development is based upon the need to extend brain maturity over a longer period of time; however, this is not necessarily the case because the brain has extensive development in the womb (Gibbons, 2008). This also demonstrates that the human brain is almost fully developed by the age of 5, which coincides with the belief that the metabolic needs of brain development are one of the primary reasons why reproduction is delayed and childhood is extended for a longer period of time (Gibbons, 2008). This is believed to be the primary source of slow maturation in modern human beings and why reproduction does not occur on the same path as other primates (Gibbons, 2008). This is also important because it also enables women to grow and mature into motherhood more effectively and to demonstrate a higher level of maturity before bearing children, and reflects the importance of understanding how human beings thrive during their childbearing years and to experience a greater sense of freedom than other primates (Gibbons, 2008). These factors are important because human beings take advantage of an extended childhood and develop at a mature level prior to reproduction to enhance their quality of life and to provide the necessary support to their children at a higher and more impactful level (Gibbons, 2008).
The evolution of human beings is complex in many ways and requires an understanding of the variables which have influenced human development over millions of years. The modern human being has evolved to a highly intelligent level with advanced brain development in the womb and also supports an extended period of childhood which has a significant impact on growth and maturity throughout the life span. Therefore, these characteristics contribute to the common practice of delayed reproduction in human beings and support a greater understanding of human needs that influence their gradual development from infancy through childhood and into adulthood.
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Kail, R. V., & Cavanaugh, J. C. (2015). Human development: A life-span view. Cengage
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