Our Human Ancestors Assignment
Assignment to hand in: Hominid Chart Key Characteristics of Five Hominids Graphic Organizer
Introduction: Look at the picture below and read the following text:
Paleoanthropology is the study of early humans. It involves the discovery
and interpretation of physical evidence left behind by human ancestors, or
Paleoanthropologists search for and interpret physical evidence, such as
fossils and artifacts. After excavating, reconstructing, dating, and
measuring the physical evidence, paleoanthropologists hypothesize about what it
tells us about our human ancestors. They try to describe when and where the
hominids lived, their appearance, and their capabilities and skills.
Paleoanthropologists base their hypotheses on the physical evidence they find,
their knowledge of anatomy,
and their observations of human and animal behavior in the modern world.
The names we use to delineate human ancestors come from a scientific system of categorizing animals and plants called taxonomy. Taxonomy, which was invented by Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus in 1758, assigns to each living creature a two-part Latin name. The first part indicates the genus to which the creature belongs and the second part indicates the species. Some of the earliest human ancestors belonged to the genus Australopithecus. Later human ancestors and modern humans belong to the genus Homo. Paleoanthropologists have assigned human ancestors to a variety of species. A species is a distinct population with a specific shape, size, behavior, and habitat. Species assignment is not always easy because the differences in anatomy between two species can be small. As paleoanthropologists unearth new hominid fossils and artifacts, and reanalyze familiar ones using new technologies, they sometimes name new species and often questions old species and genus assignments.
Step 1: Determine Chronology - Look at the Description Placards below of each type of the five hominids and the tools they used. Making your best educated guess, place them in chronological order from the first arrival on earth to the latest in our evolutionary timeline. Hint: Look at they level of skills/tools of each. Record your answers in this chart: Hominid Order Chart
Homo Sapiens Sapiens
Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis
Step 2: The Five Hominids - Read the descriptions and look at the pictures of each of the five types of hominids provided below and fill in this Key Characteristics of Five Hominids Chart.
Description: Australopithecus Afarensis
This is the famous skeleton of "Lucy," an Australopithecus afarensis individual who lived about 3.2 million years ago. This partial skeleton was found at the Hadar site in Ethiopia, and most scientists believe it belonged to an adult female.
This is an artist's rendition of australopithecines making the famous footprints at Laetoli about 3.6 million years ago.
Description: Homo habilis
This is a skull of an adult Homo habilis male who lived about 2 million years ago. The part of the skull pictured here is about 5 1/2 inches tall. It was found at the Koobi Fora site in Kenya.
This is an artist's rendition of a Homo habilis group at a campsite.
Description: Homo erectus
This is an epoxy resin cast of the skeleton of a 12-year-old Homo erectus boy who lived about 1.6 million years ago. The original skeleton measures 5 feet 6 inches tall, and it was found on the shore of Lake Turkana in Kenya. In the cast shown here, green material fills in areas that did not fossilize, such as the eye sockets, and white material fills in the area where the original bones were damaged.
This is an artist's rendition of a Homo erectus group engaged in daily activities.
Description: Homo sapiens neanderthalensis
This is a burial site of a Homo sapiens neaderthalensis young adult male who lived about 50,000 years ago. The burial site was found in the Kebara cave in Israel.
This is an artist's rendition of a Homo sapiens neanderthalensis group burying one of their dead.
Description: Homo sapiens sapiens
This is a cave painting of a horse made by Homo sapiens sapiens about 17,000 years ago. It was found high on a wall in the Lascaux cave in France.
This is an artist's rendition of Homo sapiens sapiens making the cave paintings found in the Lascaux cave in France.
Conclusion: Look at the picture below and read the following text:
The locations around the world where hominid fossils have been discovered
provide one clue as to how modern humans evolved. While the fossils of some
species have been found on only one continent, the fossils of other species have
been found on many continents. Scientists have used this information to trace
the evolution and migration patterns of the various hominids. For example, since
no Australopitheus afarensis fossils have been found outside of Africa,
scientists have determined that these early human ancestors originated in Africa
and never migrated off the continent. By contrast, scientists have discovered
hominid fossils from the Homo genus on other continents besides Africa.
Therefore, they speculate that some of these hominids evolved from the
australopithecines and migrated out of Africa to other parts of the world.
Scientists continue to debate the origins of modern humans. Many scientists believe that Homo sapiens sapiens originated from a single source in Africa, perhaps an australopithecine or an earlier hominid. Fossil evidence suggests that sapiens sapiens migrated from Africa to the Middle East and then spread to Europe and Asia. From Asia, sapiens sapiens apparently crossed the water to Australia and crossed a land bridge into the Americas. This theory is known as the "out of Africa" theory. However, some scientists argue that Homo sapiens sapiens evolved in many different regions at the same time, instead of evolving solely in Africa. This theory is known as the "multiregional" theory. Both of these theories are heavily debated and based on limited fossil evidence.
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