Great Mysteries of Human Evolution by Carl Zimmer

Discover Magazine Sept 2003, 24 (9):  34-43.

After reading the article and attending the lecture/discussion, you should be able to:

  1. list the genealogy of your own species, from kingdom to species.
  2. define evolution and natural selection and give an example (e.g., mosquitoes and DDT, or pathogenic bacteria and antibiotics)
  3. explain the conditions that should exist to make you into a fossil.
  4. give an example of an organism that is well-represented in the fossil record (i.e., one that fossilizes easily) and one that is poorly-represented (i.e., one that does not fossilize easily).
  5. explain how we can identify a new species from only a few parts of an organism, e.g. a single tooth or bone.
  6. discuss whether Homo sapiens has stopped evolving.
  7. give brief answers to the following questions:
    1. Who was the first hominid?
    2. Why do we walk upright?
    3. Why are our brains so big?
    4. When did we first use tools?
    5. How did we get modern minds/
    6. Why did we outlive our relatives?
    7. What genes make us human?
    8. Have we stopped evolving?

 

Vocabulary to know:

Evolution

DNA fragment

paleoanthropologist

Fossil

Geneticist

Sequenced human genome

Human genealogy

“Lucy”

Primate

Hominid

Bonobo

Savanna

Bipedalism

Last common ancestor

Dexterity

Mitochondrial DNA

Cranium

Brow ridge