I’m working on a biology project and need a sample draft to help me understand better.
The goal of this assignment is for you to synthesize the theory and data we’ve covered about modern humans (Homo sapiens), our hominin ancestors, and our chimpanzee cousins, and explain the traits that you think make us human. Given the traits you think are most important, you will lay out the argument for which hominin ancestor was the first you are willing to call “human”. There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question. I just want to know what you think and to see you use evidence from the class to support your argument.
What are the key traits of Homo sapiens that you think makes us “human”? Which hominin species from the genus Homo do you think first qualifies as “human”? How do both these species significantly (or not) differ from Chimpanzees? The hominin species you select as the first “human” must be a member of the genus Homo (1.5 mya or more recent), and you must focus on a single species to compare to Homo sapiens. (If you think only Homo sapiens can be called human, then compare them to Homo neanderthalensis, arguing why their traits differ enough that you don’t consider Neanderthals human yet.) Compare both to Chimpanzees. You will need to include anatomical, behavioral, and cultural traits in your argument.
Hint** You have already outlined your answer to this question in Week 7 What Makes us Human? and Week 2 Primate Traits Comparison Table and Week 3 Primate Behavior Comparison Table!
Read: Use the information already part of this class. Review the traits and the species you want to write about. Only use the Explorations textbook, module pages, and links provided on the module pages for your argument. Do not use direct quotes, whether cited or not. Everything must be written in your own words.
Organize: You will want to present information on the following kinds of traits for both Homo sapiens, your one chosen hominin species, and chimpanzees, in a comparative structure. For example, “Homo sapiens do X” and include a description and details about this. “Homo erectus did X too in mostly similar ways”, and include a description of how it is similar or different. “Chimpanzees are different because they do Y.” “Given these similarities, I think Homo erectus can be considered the first “human” hominin.” Also discuss the selective pressures that favored these traits, and how selection drove the evolution of “human” traits we see today.
This worksheet can help you organize things: Capstone Assignment Organization.docx
undefinedThis is a tool to help you organize and outline your thinking and the data you want to present. This is not what you will turn in for the project.
The traits you should discuss include:
evidence for modern bipedal anatomy (pelvis, femur, foot, etc), compared to the knuckle-walking anatomy of chimpanzees. Describe each feature and how it functions.
skull shape and size, teeth size, and brain size, and how natural selection has shaped these features in response to diet and behavior
social lives, and life history features (specifically pay attention to the ideas covered in the second half of the Week 7 module discussing life history, and how these have changed due to selective pressures.
cultural artifacts like tools, clothing, shelters, fire, art, or other decorative activities. Relate these to diet, anatomy, social behavior, and life history as relevant.
Have a look at the attached grading rubric to make sure you are covering all the ideas you need to for full points.
Present: Share what you have learned in a clear and organized way. You can do this in a variety of formats.
4 short written essays (300-400 words each) one for each of the four numbered set of traits listed above. Or one longer essay doing the same (4 – 5 pages).
PowerPoint presentation (slides only, though be careful it has all the needed information). You will want to have several slides covering each of the points above.
A video of you giving your PowerPoint. You can also play the PowerPoint and record a voice-over.
A poster or drawing for each species or each of the 4 points above with species comparisons for each point. Be careful to include text details so these are rich with information.
A newspaper or magazine article, tinder profile, or other written presentation of the information that includes images and a bit more casual writing style or perspective on the presentation
A video of a skit or other performance about the species. I love interpretive dance and puppets 🙂
A quiz show about each species
A song or poem about each species
You tell me! I’m open to fun new ideas – message me and let’s discuss
Cite: list all sources of information you used in your presentation. This can be a single page separate from the presentation work, or incorporated into the presentation in creative ways. Let’s talk if you aren’t sure how to do this. Please use APA citation format.
Do not use google. No library research. Cite and present only information from my modules and the Explorations textbook. Explain the traits and your comparisons in your own words. No quotes, even if properly cited. No copying someone else’s words.
Frank. R. (June 2021). . Anthro 101 online modules. LAVC.
Web pages or web articles that I linked to in the modules:
Lastname, First_initial. Middle_initial. (Year, Month Date). Title of page. Site name. URL
For Explorations chapters
Lastname, First_initial. Middle_initial. (2020). . Explorations.
If you have any questions about how or what to do let’s email or find a time to talk over zoom.
This assignment is due Sunday of Week 7 if you want the opportunity for feedback and the chance to revise and resubmit. I will accept this assignment until the end of Sunday of Week 8.
HINTS & TIPS
Be strategic in selecting the species you consider the first “human”. Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, and Homo neanderthalensis are your three options – every other species has some similarities, but not enough. It is also possible to support the argument that none of these three are yet fully “human” and only Homo sapiens are “human”. You then need to argue why Neanderthals are close but not close enough to be “human”. Homo heidelbergensis is a valid choice, but also potentially harder since we know less about this species.
Chimpanzees, while close modern relatives are NOT mini-humans. In a paper like this comparing modern humans to our closest hominin ancestor, chimps are VERY DIFFERENT in most ways. Don’t overstate how similar they are. Use them as a contrast to show how much has changed over hominin evolution.
Organize your notes on the traits in an outline or chart to make sure you are comparing all the features for the two species and giving equal time to the descriptions for both species. Be sure to explain the comparison – are the traits identical? how do they differ? does this difference matter in showing the species as “human” or not? Are they enough like us that you consider them “human” or “people”?
Learning and growth take practice and reflection and I am here to support your efforts. All assignments will receive an initial grade based on the provided rubric. If you aren’t happy with the points you receive or need to improve your submission, everyone will have the option to review my feedback, revise your work, and resubmit your assignment by the “available until” date 1 week after the original due date. If you have questions about how to improve a submission or about my feedback, please ask me.