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Paleoanthropology is an interdisciplinary effort, requiring expertise from various fields of earth science - sedimentology, paleontology, palynology, stratigraphy - to "paint the backdrop" for human evolution. Pick two of those fields and describe what they study and how they can assist in reconstructing the past environments in which hominids lived.

Sedimentology- Study of soil, can get a lot of info about past events. Paleontology- Study of fossil animals, make inference of environment, life, and change.


What are the three primary goals of archaeology? What are the three primary questions that archaeologists grapple with under the last of those objectives?

When and where, What and how (lifestyle), why domestication.


Why does archaeological information become just as important (or even moreimportant) than paleontological information when attempting to understand the evolution of hominids?

Change through culture 


There are basically two kinds of sites. What are they? How are they different?

Primary- not touched intact

Secondary- out of context


The word taphonomy is Latin and basically means  ______________.  This subfield of paleontology focuses on what issues related to interpreting fossils and bones?

Tomb naming


What are the four main kinds of data that make up the archaeological database?

Artifacts, ecofacts, features, and sites


Although the archaeological record does not directly replicate the cultural setting that initially created it, the context of finds and their associations with each other can tell us a lot about the behaviors that created them. Generally, what are the three kinds of spatial relationships that archaeologists examine

Intrasite, Intersite, and regional


Absolute and relative dating. What is the difference between them? I.D. one method from each

Relative- Compartaive, sequence 

Absolute- Years before present Method: carbon 14


Identify Uniformitarianism, Ethno-archaelogy, Law of superposition, and Experimental Archaeology

Uniformitarianism- Present is key to past

Ethno-archaelogy- Primate and human living studys (remains) (behavior)

Law of superposition- Oldest on bottom (geology) 

Experimental Archaeology- Making bones youself (working backwards)




Taxonomists tend to be either "lumpers" or "splitters". For instance, the array of human fossils from the Plio-Pleistocene can either be lumped into a few species or split into many.  What factors are responsible for that taxonomic "lumping" or "splitting"? (ID two of three things.)

Sex, Age at death (age diffrence), Regional diffrences 


The traditional view of the human species has always made the evolution of our large brains (encephalization) the hallmark of "Man". What, do we know now, was the first derived feature to divide hominids from their ancestors? And what second anatomical change separated us from apes long before we started to exhibit any encephalization?

First, Bipedalism

Second , Changes in dental (Loss of canines, reduction of teeth size)

Third, encephalization (brain size) 


Identify the four major grades or "super-lumps" of hominid types that evolved over the
Pliocene. Identify one "splitter" specimen for each. 

Basel- Splitter- Ardipithecus Ramidus

Primitive-Splitter-Kenyanthropus Platyopes

Derived-Splitter-Australopthecus Robustus

Early Homo-Splitters-Homo Habilis



What are four main univariate models for the development of bipedality that "kicked off" or set into motion the muitivariate positive feedback loop process that, it has been argued in this class, started us off on the path to hominization (becoming fully human)?

Thermoregulation, Long distance EFFICENT walking, Visual surveilance, Free hands, Male provision, and to reach food


There are three kinds of primary sites that paleoanthropologists feel were left behind from the cultural activities of our ancestors in the Pliocene. What are they?  What can be inferred from each?

Just bones (Killsite)

Just stones (Transport site)

Stones and variety of bones (Residental site) 


The archaeologist Lewis Binford and the paleontologist Robert Brain reinterpreted Plio-Pleistocene sites and questioned many of the reconstructions of earlier researchers.  What notions accompanied the Osteokeratadontic culture and “Home Base” reconstructions of Dart and Isaac? What methods were used by Binford and Brain to criticize their models? 

Natural Death opposed to bury procces??

Ethnoarchaeology-Home for scavengers



What evidence is used to support the scavenging hypothesis?

Cut and Teeth mark sequence, Spiral fracture in long bones (bone marrow), Never have whole animal parts


Hadar (Afar Triangle). Where is it and what was found there?
Olduvai Gorge. Where is it and what has been found there?
Taung. Where is it and what was found there?
Aramis. Where is it and what was found there? 

Ethiopia- Lucy 

East Africa- Bosia

South Africa- Child found by dart

Ethiopia- ramus 


What do sites found in E. Africa provide that sites in S. Africa do not which make
them so useful for interpreting our past?

They are able to use absolute dating utilizing Potassium argon 


Homo ergastor         a.  Dispersion
Dmanisi                     b.  Early African erectus
Terra Amata              c.  Georgia
Homo antecessor   d.  Atapuerco (Gran Dolina)
“Dragon Bones”       e.  “Peking Man”
Lake Turkana            f.  Earliest hunting?
Toralba-Ambrona     g. Nariokotome boy
Diaspora                    h. First archaic sapiens?
Homo heidelbergensis   i. Earliest known structure?
Chesawanja   ___     j.  Earliest know use of fire?

B. C. I. D. E. G. F. A. H. J



List two cranial features used to identify Homo erectus aside from increased brain capacity.

Widest at ears

Dental Changes

Thick Skull

Identical from neck down to modern humans

Pronounced brow ridge


List four possible uses of fire by early humans.

Cook, Fire harden tools, Protection, Light, Heat, Socialization, bigger brain


Identify the classic sequence of Pleistocene glacial advances that we see imprinted on the landscape of central Europe.  (Four advances, in order.)  What happened to the geological remains of the other glacial maximums (pleni-glacials) that moved across that region over the past 1.8 million years? 

Donen, Gunz, Midel, Riss, Wurm (DGMRW- Damn grandma run wild)

Then, The geological remians got plowed over.


The cyclical climatic changes of the past 1.8 million years (“Ice Ages”) appear to be due to orbital periodicities that alter the amount of solar radiation over time in a predictable manner.  What are the three main orbital periodicities we discussed in class?  Describe them.  Where are now in that cycle?

Axis Tilt, Presession (body's rotational or orbital parameters), Elliptical (around sun)


What qualities (identify at least two) did Acheulean tools have that Oldowan tools did not?

bi faced (sharp on both sides), reusable, 70% right handed


Extra: What reason has been submitted for the fact that we never (rarely) find hand axe technology beyond the “Movius Line”? 

Bamboo tools used beyond line (bamboo will not preserve)


List two cranial changes that are used to mark the evolution of Homo erectus into archaic Homo sapiens 

Wider above the ears, Reduced ohgnathic from reduced size of teeth


Some important archaic H.S. specimens have been found at Bodo, Atapuerca-Sima de los Huesos and Kabwe. Pick any two of the above sites and state what the estimated age, where they were found and something distinctive about them. 

Bodo- De-Fleshing, which implys ritual activity, 30 of them. Probably related

Kabwe- zymbobway


Neanderthals were a particular kind of archaic Homo sapiens. How were they different from
     other archaic populations? (List at least two features.) And, in general, why are they thought to
     have been different? 

Larger brained, Big nasel, robust, built for cold, large

They are adapted to cold climate


The lithic technology of archaic Homo sapiens was a good deal more complex than that of
      Homo erectus. How do different archaeologists view the relationship between technology,  
      culture and species during the Middle Paleolithic?

Pebble, Core, Flake, and Blade 


"Classic" Neanderthals, like the La Chapelle specimen, apparently lived 130+kya to ~30 kya. But other Neanderthaloid specimens from the Middle East like those at the site of site Tabun (~110kya) and Shanidar (~45-60kya) have attributes that have led some researchers to call them "hybrids". What does that mean? What population movements may have accompanied that hybridization? 

Blend population from Africa when retreating from cold (ice ages, natural climate change)