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This interactive module allows students to examine fossils of early humans and compare them to modern primates.
DNA and fossil evidence has revealed that six million to seven million years ago, the human lineage split from the one that eventually gave rise to modern chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and bonobos (Pan paniscus). Modern humans have evolved to have large brains and move around on two legs; chimpanzees and bonobos have smaller brains, walk on all fours, and are excellent climbers. To determine when these differences in traits emerged, scientists examine fossils and artifacts from prehistoric hominins, our early human ancestors.
In this Click & Learn, students explore the fossilized skeletons, footprints, and/or stone tools of four different hominids: Homo erectus, Homo habilis, Australopithecus afarensis, and Ardipithecus ramidus. Students also compare the physical features of these hominins with those of modern humans and chimpanzees.
Student Learning Targets
Compare anatomical features of primate skeletons and footprints to identify differences and similarities.
Africa, anatomy, Ardi, bipedalism, brain, Homo sapiens, Great Transitions, Laetoli, Lucy, skull, trace fossil
EVO-1.E, EVO-1.N, EVO-1.O, EVO-3.E, EVO-3.G
Topic(s): 2.6, 2.7
Learning Objectives & Practices: ERT-2.H, SP5