Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In Search of Human Origins: The Lucy Video

At the beginning of our Human Origins unit, we watched the first part of the NOVA special called In Search of Human Origins from PBS. The video is narrated by famous paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson and recalls the discovery of the oldest, most complete human skeleton found.

The creature was an australopithecus afarensis, and nicknamed "Lucy." In our Archaeology packets, we took notes on the video on page 27. If you missed the video, or want to refresh your memory, here it is (in class, we only watched the first 34 minutes):

From the fragments of Lucy’s skeleton, scientists were able to find out a number of facts about her. In class we used a grid to record which skeletal fragments give us certain information. Make sure you have listed each fragment and what anthropologists were able to learn from it.

Pelvic Bones Show…
That Lucy was female
Pelvic bones show the gender of the once living hominid

Leg Bones Show…
That Lucy was about 3.5 feet tall (height)
That she was about 25 years old (age)
An upright walker - (from her knee joint)
She was bipedal

Skull Shows…
Her brain was 1/3 the size of a modern human’s brain (Brain Size)

The Teeth and Jaw Show…
Lucy’s  jaw showed that she was an omnivore
(She ate plants AND insects.)
Jaw shows what a certain human or animal ate

Finally, here a couple of cool websites if you're interested in finding out more about our earliest human ancestors:

A Biography of Donald Johanson
ASU Institute of Human Origins

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