End of Chapter 08 Questions

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright May 2018


1. Assume you have been asked to compare the paleoanthropological evidence (including hominin fossils) from two sites in East Africa. What sorts of dating techniques might you use, and why would choose one over another? Be sure to discuss and compare at least one relative dating and one chronometric dating technique.

2. In what ways are the remains of Sahelanthropus and Ardipithecus primitive? Why do many paleoanthropologists classify these forms as hominids? How sure are we?

3. Assume that you are in the laboratory analyzing the Lucy A. afarensis skeleton. You also have complete skeletons from a chimpanzee and a modern human.
a. Which parts of the Lucy skeleton are more similar to the chimpanzee? Which are more similar to the human?
b. Which parts of the Lucy skeleton are most informative?

4. Write down a list of the areas of expertise needed to conduct a paleoanthropological investigation from start to finish. The list what each specialty contributes to the overall project. Why are multidisciplinary efforts so important for ensuring success?


1. In East Africa there are several dating techniques available. You can compare the fossils you are dating with other fossils in the area that have known dates. This would be a relative dating technique. If the fossils are in a volcanic area you can use the ash flows that are nearby and have known dates to date the fossils you are interested in. This would be chronometric dating. If radioactive decay can also be used this would also be chronometric.

2. Sahelanthropus and Ardipithecus are considered primitive because the bodies are small and because the brain cases are small. Also, the teeth, brow ridges and facial structure are more ape than human.

3. a. The head is more similar to the chimpanzee. The body and legs are more similar to humans. This means it was likely a bipedal walker as humans are.

b. The skull, which looks chimpanzee, and the hip, which looks human.

4. This is the study of early humans. This means that anthropology, anatomy and culture are all relevant and can make significant contributions to unraveling the mysteries of what early humans looked like and acted like.



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