Unformatted text preview: Name: ______________________________________ Date: ________________________ Student Exploration: Human Evolution - Skull Analysis
Vocabulary: bipedal, canine, cranial capacity, cranium, evolve, foramen magnum, hominid,
hominin, index, maxilla, orbit, palate, skull Prior Knowledge Questions (Do these BEFORE using the Gizmo.)
1. Label one of the skulls below as human and the other as a chimpanzee skull. __________________ ___________________ 2. What features did you use to identify which skull was human and which was chimpanzee?
_________________________________________________________________________ Gizmo Warm-up In 1924, a fossilized skull that looked very similar to
a chimp skull was discovered. But the skull most definitely did not
belong to a chimp. The location of the foramen magnum—a hole in
the skull where the spinal cord exits—indicated that the individual was
bipedal, or walked on two legs. This fossil was some of the earliest
evidence of human evolution.
Using the Human Evolution – Skull Analysis Gizmo, you will discover
some of the ways that skulls can be used to learn about human evolution.
Start by comparing two modern hominids: a human and a chimpanzee.
1. Examine the Front view of the Homo sapiens (modern human) skull. Then, use the
Select skull menu to examine the same view of the Pan troglodytes (chimp)
How do the skulls compare? __________________________________________________
_ 2. Now, examine the Bottom view of the two skulls. How do they compare? ______________
_ 2019 Activity A:
Get the Gizmo ready:
• Select the Homo sapiens (modern human) skull.
Introduction: Skulls, even from the same species, can have a wide variety of shapes and
sizes. To compare skulls, scientists use measurements of certain features to calculate indexes.
An index is a ratio of one measurement to another.
An important index for measuring hominid skulls is the opisthion index. This index indicates the
position of the foramen magnum in the base of the cranium. The opisthion index can indicate
whether a hominid species was bipedal or not.
Question: How does the location of the foramen magnum indicate if a species was
1. Measure: Select the Bottom view. To determine the opisthion index for humans and chimps,
follow the steps below and complete the table.
• Turn on Click to Measure Lengths. Measure the distance from the opisthocranion to the
opisthion, as shown at top right. Record the opisthocranion-opisthion distance in the table
• Measure from the opisthocranion to the orale, as shown at bottom right. Record the
opisthocranion-orale distance in the table.
• To calculate the opisthion index, divide your first measurement by your second measurement.
Multiply this number by 100.
Opisthocranion- opisthion distance (cm)
orale Opisthocraniondistance (cm) Opisthion index Homo sapiens Pan troglodytes
2. Analyze: The opisthion index is an indicator of where the foramen magnum is situated. The
greater the opisthion index, the closer the foramen magnum is to the center of the cranium. This
position is usually found in species that stand upright. A low value for the opisthion index occurs
when the foramen magnum is situated in the rear of the cranium. This may indicate that the
species walked on its knuckles or on four legs.
Using the index values you calculated, what can you conclude about humans and chimps?
(Activity A continued on next page)
2019 Activity A (continued from previous page)
3. Gather data: Humans, chimpanzees, and the other great apes are hominids. Hominids evolved from a common ancestor that lived about 13 million years ago. Hominins are
hominids that belong to the lineage that led to humans.
Measure the opisthion index of the other hominids available in the Gizmo. (Note: the
foramen magnum was not preserved in the Homo naledi skull.) Species Opisthio
n index hocranionisthion
n index A. afarensis A.
africanus P. boisei
H. habilis H.
H. floresiensis 4. Analyze: Hominins are characterized by bipedalism.
A. Based on their opisthion indexes, which of the hominids in the Gizmo are hominins?
B. Based on opisthion indexes, which hominin skulls are most similar to human skulls?
_ 4. Explain: Why do you think the foramen magnum is positioned near the rear of the cranium
for knuckle-walking species and near the center of the cranium for bipedal
_ 2019 Get Activity B:
the Gizmo ready:
• Select Side view.
• Turn off Ruler, and turn on Click to measure area.
Introduction: The brain is housed inside the cranium. The internal volume of the cranium is
called the cranial capacity. The larger an organism’s cranial capacity is, the larger its brain
tends to be.
Question: How does the cranial capacity compare amongst hominids?
1. Measure: To estimate the cranial capacity of each skull in the
Gizmo, measure the area of the part of the cranium that houses the brain. This part of the
cranium is roughly behind the red line in the diagram at right. You can also use the three skull
images below as a guide for measuring the rest of the skulls in the Gizmo.
After you measure the area of each cranium, multiply the result by 5. This will give you a very
rough estimate of the species’ cranial capacity.
Homo sapiens Species Area of cranium (cm2) Estimated cranial capacity (cm3) Pan troglodytes A. afarensis A. africanus P. boisei H. habilis H. erectus H.
heidelbergensis H. s. neanderthalensis H. floresiensis H. naledi H. sapiens (Activity B
continued on next page)
2019 Australopithecus afarensis Activity B (continued from previous
page) 2. Analyze: Examine the estimated cranial capacities you calculated.
A. Which species probably had the largest cranial capacities?
B. What do you think cranial capacity is a good indicator of? _____________________
C. Did any hominids have a larger cranial capacity than humans? If so, which species?
_ 3. Compare: Turn off the Area tool. Using the Front view, compare the size and shape of the
forehead of a chimpanzee and the forehead of a modern human. How are they different?
A. How are they different? ________________________________________________
B. Why do you think humans have such large foreheads in comparison to chimps?
___________________________________________________________________ 5. Draw conclusions: Compare the data you collected in activity A with the data you collected
in this activity. Which evolved first in hominins: bipedalism or large brains? Explain.
_ 2019 Activity
mandible Click to measure angles. Introduction: Teeth and the bones around the mouth give a great deal of information about
both a species’ diet and how it eats. Take a look at the skull features below. Question: How do the mouths of hominids compare?
1. Measure: As shown at right, place one of the protractor’s circles on
the top of the zygomatic process. Place the vertex of the protractor at
the top of the nasal opening (Hint: You may have to look at the Front
view in order to see where the top of the nasal opening is in relation
to the orbit). Place the other circle on the edge of the maxilla. The
resulting angle is the maxillary angle. Complete the table. (Note: You
will not be able to do this measurement on incomplete skulls.) Species Maxillary angle Species Maxillary angle Pan troglodytes Homo erectus
Homo heidelbergensis — Australopithecu
Homo sapiens neanderthalensis
— Paranthropus boisei Homo floresiensis
Homo habilis — Homo sapiens 2. Observe: Select the Bottom view and look at the size and shape of each species’ palate.
How does the maxillary angle and palate shape relate to the size of each species’ mouth?
(Activity C continued on next page) 2019 Activity C (continued from previous page)
3. Compare: Compare the human’s and chimp’s teeth.
A. How many teeth are found in each species’ maxilla?
Pan troglodytes: _____________ Homo sapiens: _____________
B. How do the size and shape of human canines compare with chimp canines?
___________________________________________________________________ 4. Form hypothesis: Chimps and humans eat similar foods. What do you think could explain
the differences between the maxillary angle, teeth, and palate of these two species?
_ 5. Infer: What is the relationship between the evolution of bipedalism, the increase in cranial
capacity, and the decrease in tooth and mouth size of hominins? (Hint: As cranial capacity
increased, the use of sophisticated stone tools became more common.)
_ 6. Summarize: On a separate sheet of paper, record the age of each fossil. Then, look over all
the data you collected. Summarize how hominins changed as they evolved. _____________
_ 7. Evaluate: Of the fossils presented in this Gizmo, Homo floresiensis is the youngest. In what
ways does this species NOT follow the pattern of human evolution you described above? ___________________________________________________________________
_ 2019 ...
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- Spring '17
- Mrs. Hinkley
- Hominidae, cranial capacity, Chimpanzee, cranium