Paleoanthropology

Meets these learning objectives:

  • Explain the goals of paleoanthropology
  • Explore how paleoanthropologists identify hominin fossils

Respond to this statement with a post of at least 100 words that includes a question at the end. Then use information from the texts and other sources to answer three of your classmates’ questions in posts of at least 100 words. Remember to cite and reference your sources.

Identifying the earliest hominins can be quite difficult. Just finding fossils is hard work and success isn’t guaranteed. Also challenging is that the fossil record is incomplete by definition, which means that full or nearly complete skeletons of earlier hominins have been rarely found, and the likelihood decreases the older the fossil is. In addition, many bones, especially the smaller ones like the bones of the hands and feet, are often fragmentary or missing entirely. Even bone fragments for larger bones, such as the arm and leg bones, can be difficult to classify unless particular diagnostic features are present, many of which are located at the ends of the bones (Welker 2017). Nevertheless, when these features are available in certain bones, especially the bones of the skull, pelvis, and knee (Welker 2017), the paleoanthropologist can be reasonably certain they have found the remains of a hominin and not one of the other primates or an entirely different type of mammal.

Welker, Barbara Helm. 2017. The History of Our Tribe: Hominini. Geneseo, NY: Open SUNY Textbooks.

 

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The History of our Tribe Hominini.

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