"Man is the plumeless genus of bipeds, birds are the plumed."

                                   Plato (originally Aristocles), Politicus (266)


This course is designed as a seminar focused on the biological and behavioral evolution of humans. Using the introductory course [Human Species--V1010] as a foundation, we will explore the critical issues of the field in depth, consider the why and how of inquiry, and when appropriate, the historical contexts that produce differing interpretations. Together we will grapple with the most recent discoveries and ongoing controversies as we seek insights into the dynamics of human evolution. This course is usually offered every other year.

Either Human Species EEEB V1010 or Origins of Human Society ANTH V1007.


Course Outline

Given the extensive list of topics available for analysis and debate, students will have some input as to which topics are covered in a given semester. The asterisks indicate topics that are required each term, the others are optional and, depending on student interest, may be covered in some terms and not in others. The subjects include consideration of specific fossil finds, evolutionary relationships and trajectories, and biocultural/cultural developments (tool use, religion, art, lifestyles, etc.). Please keep in mind that course content may vary each semester as new finds and new analyses calm some disputes and raise others. The schedule of these sessions will be decided upon with the class.

Optional: Human Antiquity in Perspective--Given by the instructor

*The Beginning of Hominin Bipedalism: Models, Evidence and Meaning

The Oldest Hominins, New Fossil Finds from the Last Decade: Where Do They Fit in and How Do They Change Our Understanding of Human Evolution?

Paranthropus or Australopithecus? The "Robust" Forms and Their Phylogenetic Implications

The Brain in Human Evolution: Enlargement, Reorganization and Refinement

*Homo habilis/Homo rudolfensis and Homo erectus/Homo ergaster
--Lumpers and Splitters and Discerning Speciation in the Fossil Record.

*"Tools Makeyth Man?"
The Significance and Development of Tool Manufacture in Hominin Evolution

Making Sense of the Transitionals, Can Any Patterns be Discerned?

The "Enigmatic" Far East-—Human Evolution in Asia 300,000—30,000 BP

Sex, Sexual Dimorphism and Gender Roles: Changing Morphology and Social Behavior in Human Evolution

The Origins and Meaning of Language Acquisition:
Morphology and the Fossil Record--Implications for Behavior

*Ritual and Religion in the Fossil Record: Inference, Evidence and Implications

*The Origins of Anatomically Modern Humans I Neandertals and AMHs:
The Molecular Evidence

*The Origins of Anatomically Modern Humans II Neandertal and AMHs:
The Fossil Record and Interpretation of the Morphological Evidence

*The Origins of Anatomically Modern Humans III Neandertals and AMHs:
The Archeological/Cultural Evidence

*European Upper Paleolithic and Contemporaneous Art: Early Structuralists or Shopping Lists?

Homo floresiensis, "The Hobbit" Find from Indonesia: Paradoxes and Politics

Entering the New World: A Debate Ablaze in the New Millennium