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ANTHROPOLOGY 102, INTRODUCTION TO PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY
The Museum of Man is San Diego's anthropology museum. The main exhibit for you to observe is "Footsteps through Time: 4 Million Years of Human Evolution", located on the 2nd floor. Take your time walking through this exhibit, which includes a primate hall, hominid hall, time tunnel, simulated dig site, and a hall of genetics and robotics. Answer the following questions in your paper, and tell me how (or if) this exhibit has increased your understanding of human evolution. I am looking for detailed, thoughtful responses. Please type your paper (at least 4 pages) and proofread.
- How do scientists determine if a species walked upright, based on skeletal evidence?
- When skeletal remains are found scientists use the intermembral index to determine the lengths of the forelimbs and hind-limbs that make it easier to determine if the species found was quadrupedalism or bipedalism. Also, from watching the movies in class one way Lucy was discovered to be an upright walking ancestor was by looking at her half-pelvis and half-femur. Even though the pelvis was smashed down by other mammals overtime once the discovery that it was pressed down and then reconstructed it was one more proof that Lucy was our ancestor. The confusion about the pelvis was that apes have a more flat versus human-beings and their ancestors who walked upright have a more curved pelvis. Another difference is the vertebral column, among modern primates the spine is smaller than the limbs, allowing for a longer tread.
- Examine the tool box. What does technology tell us about brain complexity?
- What are the defining features of Australopithecus afarensis? Which features are more ape-like and which are more human-like?
- Sort the skulls between timestones 10 and 11. Why is this difficult?
- What differences do you see between the skeletons of Neanderthal and modern man?
- When and where did modern humans evolve?
- What evidence of human behavior can you observe in the Upper Paleolithic cave?
- How did you react to the busts of our ancestors?
- Look at the display of primate skeletons. What primate features do they all share?
- Discuss 5 ways humans differ from other primates.
- How long ago did our ancestral line diverge from the chimpanzee line? How do we know?
- What behaviors do we share with the nonhuman primates?
- Compare Gigantopithecus to Mbongo, the mountain gorilla. What features are similar and which are different?
- Review DNA and fetal development. Did you learn anything new?
- How might human behavior affect bodies and brains in the future?
- What is your favorite part of the entire exhibit?
Technology tells us about brain complexity starting from the first ancestors that discovered how to keep a fire lit by adding naturally produced sap from trees that also contained kerosene. Even thought this is one of many theories that were developed on how this discovery was made by australopithecines or earlier. The intricacy of the brain is still unexplainable, most human-beings today use only ten percentage of their brain. Even-though our brain capacity has enormously expanded the use of the brain has not tremendously increased along side of the expansion or to the same ratio as the development of our brains. With that said the tools created for the smallest use are still the leading inventions being used today. There are improvements that have been made for those simple tools but the concept of use is the same no matter what advances have been made to simplify its use. The mind along with the being having a curiosity to make life simpler for everyday obstacles and to learn from them shows us the complexity of the brain.
Australopithecus afarensis was an early hominid from around two and a half to four million years ago had faces of an ape like features but their eyes that faced forward were like humans. Their brow or eye ridges also stood out more when looking at their skull. They were also upright walking just like present day Homo sapiens. Australopithecus afarensis was slimly built, and/or gracile, and was considered to have been a direct ancestral relation to Australopithecus africanus and the modern homo. Afarensis also has condensed canines and molars, although they are still moderately bigger than the modern Homo sapiens but much smaller than apes. Australopithecus afarensis also has a comparatively smaller brain mass and a projecting lower jaw.
Sorting the skulls between timestones 10 and 11 is difficult because timestone 10 also known as Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis are early representatives of the genus Homo, also known as the modern human group. Their evolution took place in the area now known as East Africa. There are many arguments about the fossils of Homo habilis since there are a limited number of specimens to classify this category. Along with the debate of the Homo habilis fossils being one and the same or two different species. Some specimens had petite teeth and huge brains, while others had bulky teeth and minute brains. An extensive number of fossils are required to determine if those variations are from one species or if they are two different features along with two completely different genuses. Here is where timestone 11 come in also known as Homo ergaster. Homo ergaster was perhaps an ancestor of Homo habilis and lived during the same time as some australopithecines. Even though the earliest Homo ergaster fossil showed a larger cranial capacity, smaller face and grinding teeth, larger nasal bridge, and thicker skull bones. There are still not enough specimens to determine the classes of the fossils when there are only skull pieces found at dig sites.
The differences between the skeletons of Neanderthal and modern man are the size of their skeleton bones. The robust skeletons gave them broad bodies and undersized limbs compared to us. This made them appear more like wrestlers, while modern humans in contrast are more taller and skinner like long-distance sprinters. Even though they are portrayed as being brutish, having a wooden club and hitting their mate on the head with, it was more mythical and they were more like modern humans than regularly described. Their cranial capacity was probably as large as ours or even a bit greater than the average humans' brain. They realized the concept of fire how it's made and used, proficiently constructed stone tools, were talented huntsman, resided in intricate community groups and buried their dead. The unearthing of the remains of a mature Neanderthal with brutally malformed forelimbs, signifying a foremost disability or injury indicates they took care of their sick and/or wounded. Osteologist researchers could even suggest they might have shared basic language capabilities according to the hyoid bone found through the remains inside the Neanderthals cave dwelling.
From our class to the book I have read this semester modern humans started to evolve in Africa when Homo erectus started to migrate in Africa. During this time of travel a new species evolved known today as Homo sapiens. Then eventually once all or most of Homo erectus was migrated out of Africa the genus evolved to Homo sapiens or better known by average people as modern humans. This is not a one hundred percent fact of what happened but a theory and its name is "recent single origin". (but does not explain one other theory of homo sapiens living and found in the area (by the river, the area they migrated for stability don't know where that is look up in the morning)
The evidence of human behavior observed in the Upper Paleolithic cave was a theory conjured up for the time period fifty thousand years ago also known as the late stone age. This theory was thought up to be a biological restructuring of the brain. This led to a related human thought process of visual skill of drawing, social gatherings, and linguistic skill. This theory was proposed after a discovery of sophisticated hand tools were discovered which includes bone artifacts and cave paintings. The tools discovered were also made for specific purposes to show their superiority over their ancestors they evolved from. The earliest record of remains also found settlements with storage pits.
Check out other exhibits: Skull Stories, Ancient Egypt, Gods and Gold, and more.....