Anthropology

Please answer each question two paragraphs per answer. Use your class notes, lecture PowerPoints, textbook (Understanding Humans: Introduction to Physical Anthropology and Archaeology, 11th edition, by Lewis, Jurmain, and Kilgore), and class films to answer these questions. DO NOT use any outside sources.

Please read these tips before you begin:

1) Remember that the best answers to each question above will use specific examples and facts from our class materials.
2) Please answer each question above in one or two paragraphs. Much more than that may be overkill, but any less will not be enough.

Question 1 (50 points)

Imagine you are a soon-to-be-world-famous paleoanthropologist working in Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, Africa. You and your team of researchers discover the following fossils lying together: a nearly complete pelvis and femur, a complete skull (with teeth), and a nearly complete left arm, wrist, and hand. They all appear to belong to the same individual. It’s the find of the century!

Now it’s time to interpret your discovery. How will you determine if this species walked bipedally? How might you be able to date the fossil? In addition to determining if the species is a biped, what else can you infer about its behavior from the fossil record? Have fun and use your imagination but be sure to ground your answer in facts you learned about in class. The Nova documentaries we watched for class, your textbook, and lectures will be very helpful here.

Question 2 (50 points)

You’re having Thanksgiving dinner with some close family who are safely in your COVID-19 bubble. Since it’s an election year, nobody wants to talk about politics. Your uncle Larry, fishing for safe conversation topics, looks at you and says, “Hey, you’re taking anthropology, right? Isn’t that the class where you learn about “Lucy,” that old fossil? What was that all about?”

Describe the human ancestor, Australopithecus afarensis, better known by the nickname “Lucy,” in simple but scientifically accurate language that Uncle Larry can understand. Be sure to include information about where and when Lucy lived, how she moved, ate, and otherwise behaved, and how she compared to other human ancestors, such as the robust australopithecines. As with question 1, have fun with this, but make sure your answer is rooted in information from our class. The Nova documentaries we watched for class, your textbook, and lectures will be very helpful here.

Question 3 (50 points)

Netflix is desperate for fresh content and has hired you as the scientific consultant for their new series, “Homo erectus life.” This show is about the adventures of a family of Homo erectus living around Lake Turkana 1.8 million years ago. It’s your job to make sure the producers portray these human ancestors accurately.

Using examples and facts from our class, please provide the producers with a good set of notes about Homo erectus. What did these human ancestors look like, and how did they move? What sorts of tools did they use? What were their daily behaviors like? How do they compare with modern humans? How did they acquire food? What would their habitation sites look like? Again, have fun with this, but make sure your answers use facts from our class. The Nova documentaries we watched for class, your textbook, and lectures will be very helpful here.

Question 4 (50 points)

Netflix made a fortune off “Homo erectus life.” Entertainment Weekly declared it “the most binge-worthy series of the pandemic since Tiger King!” Now you’ve been hired to consult for their follow-up series, “Neanderthal life.”

Once again, you’ll need to provide the Netflix producers with notes, only this time, about Neanderthals. Describe Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis). What are some of the most important similarities and differences between and Neanderthals and humans in terms of their bodies, behavior, and capacity for culture and language? What did these human ancestors look like, what sorts of activities did they do, and what were their daily lives like? In your answer, be sure to talk about insights from archaeology and genetics. The Nova documentaries we watched for class, your textbook, and lectures will be very helpful here.

Question 5 (50 points)

Imagine that you are an anatomically modern human living on the coast of South Africa at the Pinnacle Point or Blombos Cave site roughly 100,000 – 70,000 years ago. Describe your daily life. How would and your family make a living? What sort of tools might you use to gather food? What kind of arts and crafts might you create to express yourself? How does your life and culture compare with earlier human ancestors, like Homo erectus or Neanderthals, and contemporary humans? have fun with this, but make sure your answers use facts from our class. The Human Odyssey documentary we watched for class, your textbook, and lectures will be very helpful here.

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