End of Chapter 11 Questions

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright May 2018


1.What anatomical characteristics define modern as compared with premodern humans? Assume that you're analyzing an incomplete skeleton that may be early modern H. sapiens. Which parts of the skeleton would be most informative, and why?

2. What recent evidence supports a partial replacement model for an African origin and later dispersal of modern humans? Do you find this evidence convincing? Why or why not? Can you propose an alternative model that has better data to support it?

3. Why are the fossils discovered from Herto so important? How does this evidence influence your conclusions in question 2?

4. Do you think that Homo floresiensis is a separate species, or is LB1 a pathological modern human? What new evidence would be needed to rigorously evaluate this question?

5. What archaeological evidence shows that modern human behavior during the Upper Paleolithic was significantly different from that of earlier hominids? Compare and contrast some key differences in burial contexts between modern humans and the Neandertals. What do you think accounts for these differences?


1. The skull will be most informative. Is it big, is the forehead human-looking, are the back and sides human shaped? Next look at the size and the leg and hip shapes. Are they well suited for bipedal walking? Likewise, size: humans are big.

2. Successful variants of a species thrive and spread. It seems that the origin of the most successful modern homo sapiens variant was in Africa. It spread and as it did so it interbred with previous successful variants living in Europe and central Asia -- Neandertals and Denisovans.

3. The Herto fossils appear to be the oldest Homo sapiens variant. This is what makes them interesting. If they aren't, they aren't so interesting.

4. The important question about Homo floresiensis is could they interbreed with contemporary homo sapiens? If so, they are an interesting variant on the species because they are so small. If not, they are just another different species. So, the big questions is can some evidence of interbreeding be discovered?

5. Tool use and art are what make Upper Paleolithic homo sapiens activities interesting and different. So, in the same vein, how much do Neandertals and Denisovans of the Upper Paleolithic also show signs of engaging in tool use and art? The more they do, the more they are like homo sapiens of that era.



--The End--