Showing posts from November, 2016

Otzi the Iceman: Murder Mystery!

Here's the PBS NOVA episode of the Iceman Murder Mystery we started in class. A few things to look for:

How did Iceman die?
What was prehistoric life like?
Why was the axe so special?

One day about 5,300 years ago a man left a small village in the Italian Alps. He might have been selling flint to other Neolithic settlements on the northern side of the mountains, in what is Austria today. However, his journey took a tragic turn when he got caught in a nasty snow drift and died. In 1991 a couple of hikers came across the body sticking out of a melting glacier and called for help. A group of archaeologists took the body back to the University of Innsbruck in Austria, and "Otzi" became an instant celebrity.

After some intensive studies and examination of the Iceman and his belongings, archaeologists have learned a great deal about the Chalcolithic period of European history. Just try busting that word out at a party: Chalcolithic! It's just a smart word to describe the p…

Paleolithic Art: Lascaux, France

In 1940, in southwestern France, a group of school boys stumbled upon an amazing sight--a huge cave complex housing over 600 paintings and over 1500 engravings. The images showed several kinds of animals--birds, as well as cattle, bison, deer, and horses--and hundreds of "signs," shapes, dots, and other patterns. After archaeologists had a chance to study the cave art, they determined that the imagines were left by hunter-gatherers more than 15,000 years ago.

The caves at Lascaux contain some of the earliest known art in human history, dating back to somewhere between 15,000 and as far back as 27,000 years ago. The Paleolithic cave paintings consist mostly of realistic images of large animals. The other common theme of the paintings is a number of human hand prints. Pigments (paints) are made from ingredients such as plants, berries, rust, charcoal and dirt. The paintings demonstrate the advancement of Cro-Magnon humans and their way of life, and actually show the quality …

Hunters and Gatherers

You've read the passage from A Message of Ancient Days about the development of early humans from the time of Homo erectus until the group of people known as Cro-Magnons who lived in what is modern France and made phenomenal cave art. One of the first things you may notice is that the reading talks about Homo heidelbergensis.

The important point to know is that Homo heidelbergensis is just a type of Homo erectus that lived in Europe about 500,000 years ago in what is today Germany, France, and Spain. This type of human ancestor exhibited the first aspects of culture in the human species: living together, making and using tools, making and controlling fire, adapting to colder climates, and hunting in coordinated groups.

A few interesting points of information came out of the reading.

1. First, human culture became more complex from the time of Homo heidelbergensis to the time of Cro Magnons:
 Homo heidelbergensis lived in small groups of 20-30 people who traveled over a wide area hu…

PBS NOVA: Dawn of Humanity

Check out this cool new episode of Nova that details the latest developments of Lee Berger and his crew in tracing the origins of the human species.

Uncovering Clues to Our Past

In class, we are reading about the development of humans from a small ape-like creature that lived in eastern Africa called Australopithecus afarensis to the Homo sapiens hunter-gatherers who survived the Ice Ages.

Remember to put your NAME, BLOCK, the DATE and TITLE on the top in a proper heading!

In the blue book, A Message of Ancient Days, students read pages 90-95 and completed questions 1, 2, 3, and 4 on page 95. Put a mini-check next to correct answers, but add any details that you might have missed...

The questions and notes from class:

1. What have scientists learned about our earliest ancestors?
That the earliest humans lived between 1 and 4 million years agoEarly humans used simple tools at first, but more complicated ones as time went onHumans walked on two feet (were bipedal), which is different from modern apesHumans had smaller brains than modern humans (an australopithecus's brain was 1/3 the size of us)Humans' appearance (bone structure) changed over time"L…

PBS Nova: Becoming Human

In class we started watching a PBS video of the show NOVA. The episode is called "Becoming Human," and it traces the earliest human ancestors to our present day species. The entire video is quite long, but in case you were interested in more than we got to in class, here is the entire show.

Also, here are a couple of websites that might be interesting to explore:

NOVA's official website for the "Becoming Human" show

Also, check out this really cool website of a journalist from National Geographic that is walking the same route taken by human ancestors from East Africa to the rest of the populated areas of the world. Here's a description from the website:

A JOURNEY THROUGH TIME Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek is retracing on foot the global migration of our ancestors in a 21,000-mile, seven-year odyssey that begins in Ethiopia and ends in Tierra del Fuego.…

Early Human Evolution: Book Creator Project

In class this week we are working on our Early Humans Word Cards on the Book Creator app for iPad. Be sure yours are legible, neat, and all the information is accurate. You will be able to use them on our quiz.

Human Origins Study Cards

Objective: To show the progression of human evolution from Ardipithecus ramidus to Homo sapiens.

After reading the instructions for creating a set of Early Human word cards, use the following information to fill out each page of your Book Creator Book. Copy accurately and neatly. Check with me BEFORE looking for any images!

Ardipithecus ramidus ("Ardi") is one of the latest human species found. National Geographic magazine featured an interesting article last year that is worth checking out.

There are five major stages of human development:

Ardipithecus ramidus ("Ardi") Lived about 4.4 million years agoWalked upright on two feet (bipedal)Had a grasping toe (for climbing)About 4 feet tallHuman…

In Search of Human Origins: Lucy

At the beginning of our Human Origins unit, we'll watch the first part of the NOVA special called In Search of Human Originsfrom 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." For classwork and homework this week, you will need to fill in the chart about Lucy's Bones. The notes for the chart are below. In class we only watch 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 you received 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…

Early Humans Vocabulary

A glacier is a huge sheet of ice that moves slowly across earth’s surface.

FOSSIL A fossil is the  imprint of a plant or animal from long ago.
A hominid is any modern or extinct species of human or ape.

Evolution is the development of a species over time.

The Paleolithic Age, also known as the Old Stone Age, was a time when humans were hunter-gatherers and used stone tools.

The Neolithic Age, also known as the New Stone Age, was a time when humans invented farming, settled into villages, but still used stone tools.

A hunter-gatherer was any human that lived by hunting animals and gathering plants to eat.

Neanderthals were a species of human that died out about 30,000 years ago. They had thicker skulls and other small differences from modern humans.

Any just for fun--The Simpson's take on evolution...

The Skull in the Rock by Lee Berger

In class, we were using the PORST reading strategy while looking at the bookThe Skull in the Rock by paleoanthropologist Lee Berger and writer Marc Aronson and published by National Geographic.

We've been taking notes in the "boxes and bullets" format with a summary of each chapter using a main idea "box" at the top of the page and bullets for the supporting details.

The PQRST method includes the following steps:

PREVIEW - Preview the text, look at the pictures, read captions, titles and subtitles

QUESTION - Think of a question that gets to the main point of the chapter you're about to read

READ - Read the chapter a paragraph or two at a time, and stop to reread parts that might be difficult

SUMMARIZE - Write a single bullet for each paragraph or two to tell the main points you read

TEST YOURSELF/TALK ABOUT IT - Be sure you understand and respond to what you read

Also, here's a video from National Geographic of Lee Berger talking about how he used Googl…