Anthropology | Human Paleontology
B464 | 27312 | Hunt

Humans are the dominant primate on the planet now, but 20 million
years ago our ape ancestors were hardly distinguishable from any of
the dozen apes alive then.  B464, Human Paleontology, aims to survey
the fossil record beginning with the human lineage that survived the
great ape die-off around 10 million years ago and continuing up to the
present. The class will examine the course of human evolution and the
evidence paleontologists bring to bear when interpreting morphology of
our lineage, and the selective pressures that created it.  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.