Anthropology | Human Palaeontology
B464 | 0382 | 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.  The story of how we survived the ape die-off around 10
million years ago, and how humans came to be the world's dominant
primate, is the subject of Human Paleontology.  B464, Human
Paleontology, aims to survey the human fossil record, seeking to
understand both the causes and the course of human evolution.   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.  Reading in B464
will consist of most of a 280 page text and about 15-20 outside
readings.  There will be three exams, the last a cumulative final.  A
term paper is required.  Two required labs will teach students basic
bone anatomy, and allow them to examine casts of important fossils on
their own.