Homo sapiens

Before taking this class, when you thought of human evolution, the image that most likely came to your mind was something like this:

Linear progress from ape to human
https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/598b1a7ce6f2e199ff1007ab/1532704795602-4JONZCALJGR5DMYFW8M7/ke17ZwdGBToddI8pDm48kJSsdhlvqAoYm6dnrgiSOyRZw-zPPgdn4jUwVcJE1ZvWQUxwkmyExglNqGp0IvTJZUJFbgE-7XRK3dMEBRBhUpzTyGsvdBbmpNACFazMpCjEts2-dg5Z9PJvY2cBiMgNiOuy5NXJ0zpX3F1hsiEayW4/Human+evolution.png

By now, you should recognize the misunderstandings about human evolution that an image such as this promotes. Above, we see a linear progression from an ape-like creature to modern humans, but there are several errors in this depiction. For one, evolution does not happen so linearly, as all of our readings and course materials for this unit demonstrate. In fact, different species of hominins coexisted and even interbred at various times in our evolutionary history. There were many “drafts” for Homo sapiens (and, again, there was even interbreeding between these potential humans and h. sapiens–Ch. 11)), but they ALL went extinct at various times, and we ultimately thrived. So, the picture of human evolution is far more complex than the image above suggests.

Part One:

For this dicussion describe two or three hominin species and explain how and why they were potential precursors to modern Homo sapiens. In writing this portion of discussion, take into account the characteristics which distinguish Homo sapiens from other hominins.

Part Two:

Now, drawing on your readings and any other relative content/resources, explain further why the standard image of human evolution like the one above generates some misleading perspectives on the principles of human evolution, and describe a more accurate method for depicting this complex process. After having completed these steps, consider how your own idea of evolution has changed since the start of this class. Having gained a better understanding of what evolution means, the scientific method, the rigor and meticulous attention required for finding, preserving, and reconstructing fossils, genetics, etc., has your position on evolution transformed? Has it been reinforced? Whatever your position, defend it with specific references to course materials.

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