Fossil Lab

Fossil Lab - 1 ANTH 200 Fossil lab at the LA County Museum...

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ANTH 200 Fossil lab at the LA County Museum of Natural History March 10-14, 2008 Introduction Today you will examine fossil materials of the earliest ancestors of our human family tree. [Early primate evolution will be covered in lecture.] As you go through the stations, keep in mind that, though there are derived features that separate different fossil groups from themselves and from modern humans, there are many similarities that unite the hominids as a family. Many new fossils have been found in the past few years that have greatly increased the members of our family, the Hominidae. As a result, the classification of our family has undergone many changes. More information on how these groups are related to one another will be presented in lecture. In this lab, we will explore the major morphological differences among the hominid groups. Guidelines The features that you will examine in each fossil are repeated at the different stations, so you will not be learning a new set of features for each fill-in table. Please be very careful of the fossil casts. The timeline on the next page is provided as a reference. Use it to orient yourself to the major hominid groups. The fossils that you will examine in this lab are circled. Note on classification Recall from earlier discussions that the classification of humans and our closest living relative, the apes, has undergone some recent reevaluation. In the traditional classification, the great apes (orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees) were placed into the family Pongidae, and humans and our ancestors were placed into Hominidae. Based on overall genetic relatedness, however, chimpanzees and humans are more closely related to each other than either is to the gorilla. Therefore, an updated classification has been proposed, where the orangutans are left in Pongidae and gorillas and chimpanzees are now placed into Hominidae with humans. Within the hominids, gorillas are in a separate subfamily (Gorillinae), and chimpanzees and humans are together in the subfamily Homininae. To differentiate humans from chimpanzees, humans are grouped within the tribe Hominini. Depending on the classification scheme used, humans and our fossil ancestors can be called “hominids” or “hominins.” In this class, we will continue to use the traditional classification and refer to humans as “hominids,” but you should be aware of alternative classifications. You can check out p. 322 of your textbook for further information on these classificatory schemes. 1
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I. Hominoid evolution At this station are the skulls and lower jaws of an Old World Monkey (baboon), Proconsul (fossil ape), and a chimpanzee. [Note: the Proconsul specimen is a bit squashed.] Proconsul represents a group of fossils from the early Miocene (23-16 million years ago) known collectively as the “dental apes,” a group of animals that exhibited ape-like dentitions but with a more monkey-like postcranial skeleton. 1) Compare their skulls and mandibular dentitions:
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Fossil Lab - 1 ANTH 200 Fossil lab at the LA County Museum...

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