MODULE DESCRIPTION 2015-16

AUTUMN SEMESTER

15 CREDITS

AAP6061 HOMINID PALAEONTOLOGY SEMINARS
CO-ORDINATOR: KEVIN KUYKENDALL
OTHER TUTORS: N/A

MODULE OUTLINE

This unit will present a seminar-based survey of the literature about early hominid fossils, covering both historical and recent original descriptions of major hominid fossil finds. It will explore how interpretations of hominid fossils has changed through time, and in light of developments in the field of palaeoanthropology such as changes in phylogenetic methods, the prominence of major models about human evolution & adaptation, theoretical and philosophical issues, the rise of ancient DNA methods, and the impact of significant new fossils themselves.


BROAD ACADEMIC AIMS AND PRINCIPLES OF THE UNIT

This unit aims to:

  • Provide students with a comprehensive overview of the hominid fossil record, and the basis for description and analysis of hominid fossil specimens;
  • Provide experience in the critical evaluation of information about human evolution in both the scientific and popular press, and to consider how published interpretations of hominid species have been historically re-evaluated in light of new adaptive & evolutionary scenarios, and fossil finds themselves;
  • Provide students with a synthesis of our understanding of the major events and trends about human evolution, and of their interpretation in the field of palaeoanthropology.

MEASUREABLE LEARNING OUTCOMES

By the end of this module students should demonstrate an understanding of:

  • the hominid fossil record in its entirety, including historical and current interpretations;
  • how to critically evaluate published and historical interpretations of hominid systematics, adaptation, function, behaviour, and related evolutionary models;
  • the anatomical, theoretical, and analytical aspects of scientific research in palaeoanthropology and the methods historically and currently used in the field.

EXAMPLES OF LECTURE/SEMINAR TITLES

Our lectures/seminars are highly participative and taught by leaders in their field.

  • Palaeoanthropology prior to 1900,
  • Piltdown Man (1912) and the reception of Australopithecus africanus (1925),
  • Paranthropus robustus and Homo erectus (1920s-1940s),
  • Neanderthals and early modern Homo sapiens before 1950,
  • The earliest hominids – Sahelanthropus, Orrorin & Ardipithecus (1990s),
  • Recent finds – Dmanisi, Denisova, and Flores Island.

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT SKILLS ACQUIRED

  • Discussion and analysis of historical research reports in various disciplines;
  • Evaluation and synthesis of both historical and current viewpoints in a disciplinary context;
  • Independent research and group collaboration in preparing for discussion sessions;
  • the implementation of effective presentation skills through practice and feedback provided;
  • Scientific writing skills to present a coherent historical evaluation (in essay format) of a selected research issue.

STUDENT ATTENDANCE AND INDEPENDENT STUDY

Type

Hours

Lectures 0
Seminars 15
Independent Study (including preparation for assessments) 135