Uakari monkey Monkeys, Apes and Humans human baby
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Monkeys, Apes and Humans
Anthropology 1500
Department of Anthropology, University of Missouri-Columbia

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Important stuff: Due Thursday Apr 27. 2-3 pages. 150 points. Highly recommend talking with TAs about your ideas.

Question: Describe, compare, contrast, and test two or more different hypotheses for one or more (or all!) unusual or unique characteristics of humans (listed below) using evidence from your lecture notes and text. One of the hypotheses may be original, but one or both may be from the literature.

Hints: (1) Read your text, and additional materials (Alexander, Foley,) on reserve in the Anth library (2) Choose and state the hypotheses. (3) Explain what each hypothesis (that you have chosen) predicts. (4) Explain how the data fit or do not fit predictions from each hypothesis. (5) Exceptional essays will suggest further observations or fossil finds that would help resolve controversies suggested by your study.



tool use

habitual bipedality

fine control hands

teeth reduction

throwing ability




complex plant gathering

parental care, male provisioning

shorter birth interval than other apes

extended child dependency

division of labor (foraging)



consciousness, complex theory of mind

moral and legal systems


sexual (see handout for examples)

Evidence: (examples of the types of "data" that you can use to evaluate hypotheses)

Fossils, e.g., characteristics of "Lucy" (Australopithecus afarensis) such as: bipedality, cranial capacity, sexual dimorphism, teeth, etc.

General aspects of human evolution, e.g., earlier species are now extinct.

Characteristics of modern humans, and differences with other primates (e.g., lack of estrus swellings, types of intellectual capabilities -- language, foresight, self recognition, emotions, abstract thinking ...)

Comparison with chimps, bonobos, and gorillas (homology)

Comparison with other species of primates in similar ecological conditions (analogy)

Sources: Text, several articles on reserve in Anth library (optional supplemental reading). Make sure you read Alexander and Foley and summarize their ideas in your essay.





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