This class examines the morphological, genetic and behavioral variability within and among our closest relatives, the extant apes of Africa and Asia . It then uses this framework to analyze questions of systematics and to trace the evolutionary development of the hominoids during the Miocene, the epoch that saw the last common ancestor of today's gibbons, orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees and humans.
The course is divided into five parts. The historical and contextual framework is the starting point of the class as we trace the historical trajectory of our understanding and image of the ape from ancient Egypt to the beginnings of modern primatology. Following this, we will build a foundation in basic hominoid morphology and physiology as key functional systems (locomotor, sensory, masticatory and reproductive) are explored. Lectures will be integrated with hands-on analysis of skeletal materials. This will provide students with a framework for the section that follows, a consideration of species and subspecific designations among the Hominoidea . We will evaluate the most recent anatomical, genetic and related evidence for taxonomic distinctions within each genus.
The next phase of the course offers an exploration of hominoid behavior. Given the wealth of ape-specific behavioral research conduced over the last thirty years, will begin this section by focusing on pertinent issues for each taxon. We will then consider major themes in hominoid behavior, particularly those that receive significant scientific as well as popular attention primarily because of the genealogical proximity of our own species to these forms. These include recent controversies about the extent and implications of ape tool use and intelligence. The last part of the course synthesizes these data as we trace the evolutionary history of the hominoids from their earliest beginning to their heyday and ultimate decline in the Miocene.
Prerequisite: Recommended but not required courses--V1010 or V101. Students who are interested in the class who haven't taken either course are welcome to speak with the instructor.
PART I. Historical and Contextual Framework
PART II. Comparative Hominoid Morphology
PART III. Species and Subspecies Designations among
Part IV. Hominoid Behavior: Genus Specific Issues
PART V. The Miocene Fossil Record