Anthropology | Human Paleontology
B464 | 26405 | Hunt

Humans are unique animals, but 20 million years ago our ape ancestors
were hardly distinguishable from any of the more than a dozen apes
living then.  B464, Human Paleontology, aims to survey the fossil
record beginning with the human ancestors that survived the great ape
die-off around 10 million years ago to the present. The class will
examine the course of human evolution and the evidence paleontologists
bring to bear on the issues of morphology, species numbers and
selective pressures that affected our lineage.  We will begin
historically, by examining how scientists came to recognize fossils as
extinct animals, and how they learned interpret them.  Students will
learn basic functional anatomy, and how the study of anatomy and its
function helps us to understand extinct animals.  We will investigate
how the human body functions by treating it as a mechanical solution
to life-problems.  We will also study evolutionary theory, and what it
can tell us about why humans evolved and why we're still evolving.  In
the course of learning the anatomy and chronology of critical fossils,
students will learn why humans became bipedal, why we shifted from a
principally vegetarian diet to one that includes animals, why we came
to have large brains, and what the impact of tools and other
technology has had on our bodies.