Becoming Human Questions & Answers
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- When and where was Lucy discovered? How old is Lucy? What species is she? Why was the discovery of the Lucy fossil so important?
Lucy was found in Hadar and is 3.2 million years old. She is an Australopithecus afarensis (Southern Ape) and the discovery of the Lucy fossil is so important because the afarensis was the last common ancestor to all later branches to human evolution.
- What is a hominid?
A hominid is any member of the family Hominidae, consisting of all modern and extinct humans and great apes (including gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans), and all their immediate ancestors.
- What impacts did a changing environment on earth have on hominids? What was the environment like towards the end of the Miocene (10 to 5 million years ago)? What were some consequences of this?
The impact of a changing environment on earth had on hominids was that it became colder and dryer. The Miocene apes began to thin and are gradually replaced by open woodlands.
- Who is our closest living relative? Does this mean we evolved from this species? Why is the “missing link” concept between humans and apes living today a false idea?
Our closest living relative are chimpanzees but did not evolve from them. They evolve differently from the same ancestor. The “missing link” concept between humans and apes living today is a false idea because it is a misinterpretation that humans descended from an already existing species of apes.
- What is bipedalism? What is its importance in hominid evolution?
Bipedalism is where an organism can move by using its two legs. It’s importance to hominid evolution is that it is valuable information for the researchers to know when looking for these certain fossils.
- What is the Turkana boy fossil and why was he important? Describe some of its anatomical features. What is his age? What did he eat?
The Turkana boy fossil was a skeleton of a young male probably around 9 years old and was also the first complete Homo erectus to ever be found. They were eating like carnivores because they had big bodies. Turkana boy was around 5ft and would be projected to be as tall as 6ft as an adult.
- What are some similarities and differences between Homo erectus and Homo sapiens?
Some similarities between Homo erectus and Homo sapiens is that they both share a lightly, rounded skull.Then, one differences between Homo erectus and Homo sapiens is that the skull structure is different. The Homo erectus had more of an elongated brain rather than the Homo sapiens.
- Why did Homo erectus leave Africa and populate other areas of the globe?
Homo erectus left Africa and populated other areas of the globe because the Homo sapiens invaded.
- Carol Ward says that “Selection favored habitually terrestrial bipediality”. What selection pressures favored humans walking on the ground over swinging in trees?
Natural selection pressures favored humans walking on the ground over swinging in the trees.
- What is the major question about the evolutionary relationship between Neanderthals and modern humans? Explain the different ideas/conflicts about this. Compare the ideas of Paleoanthropologists Ian Tattersall and Cathy Willermet.
The major question about the evolutionary relationship between Neanderthals and modern humans is what happened to them? Tattersall and Willermet thought it was strange how whenever the Homo sapiens arrived the Neanderthals would leave or go extinct shortly after.
- Africa was the only place that human evolution took place for the first three or four million years of hominid existence. The first species to spread into new continents was Homo erectus. There are different theories about how our species, sapiens, spread across the globe. Compare the Out of Africa theory to the Multiregional theory of modern human evolution and dispersal.
The Multiregional theory suggests that humans evolved from the Homo erectus Out of Africa whereas the Out of Africa theory suggests Homo sapiens left Africa then inhabited the rest of the Old World.
- Scientists have discovered and investigated finger engravings in Australia, 24,000 years ago. What might these findings mean for human evolution? What can we learn from studying people still living today, such as the Aboriginal people?
Scientists discovering and investigating finger engravings in Australia, 24,000 years ago might mean big things for human evolution. Scientists might be able to figure out a way they communicated or something even better. Similar to finger engravings, studying people still living today we would be able to learn the way they lived and possibly even communicated with one another.
- Building shelters, hunting, tool making, controlling fire, language, wearing clothing, burying the dead, making art- all of these give us clues to our early cultural evolution. How can studying our past cultural evolution help us determine what our place is (or should be) in nature today?
By studying our past cultural evolution helps us determine what our place is in nature today because by doing this we are able to get insight on what life was like way back and see how far we have come which will give us a good estimate of where we should be in nature today
- Explain whether thinking about the evolution of hominid species alters the way you think about human beings in general or yourself.
After watching this documentary, it doesn’t alter the way I think about human beings or myself but makes me really think about how much we’ve evolved over time. This is such a fascinating topic and would always be willing to learn more about the evolution of humans.