Scientific Methods

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Please complete the following assignments as revision for you reading and video material. You will need to source additional information by searching the Internet

Question 1
Based on the notes you have prepared from the Videos you watched, the research papers you have read, and some Internet searches prepare short descriptions of the following Hominids (make sure your descriptions identify the unique features they have plus the feature they have inherited from their ancestors. Please provide details that are precise - saying a species is small-brained is meaningless rather give the brain size or say it is half the size of a modern human (relative size).

1. Australopithecus afarensis (Lucy)
2. Australopithecus africanus (Taung Child)
3. Australopithecus garhi
4. Australopithecus bahrelghazali
5. Homo habilis (Man with ability)
6. Homo rudolfensis
7. Homo ergaster (Turkana boy)
8. Homo erectus (Upright Man)
9. Homo antecessor
10. Homo heidelbergensis
11. Homo rhodesiensis
12. Homo neanderthalensis (Neanderthal Man)
13. Homo sapiens idaltu (elder wise man)
14.Homo sapiens sapiens (Wise Man; modern humans)
15. Homo floresiensis

[45 Marks]

Question 2
Briefly describe the controversy of Piltdown Man - describe how the fake fossil was made and the circumstances of its finding. Describe possible persons involved with perpetuating this hoax and provide your verdict on their guilt.

[10 Marks]

Question 3
Prof Raymond Dart claimed that the Taung Child skull must have been an intermediate species between ape and man, but his claim about the ancestry was rejected by the scientific community at the time. This prompted Sir Arthur Keith to suggest that the skull belonged to a young ape, most likely from an infant gorilla. Discuss this statement.

[5 marks]

Question 4
Construct a cladogram to represent the evolutionary relationships between Humans, Chimpanzees, Gorillas, Orangutans and Gibbons. Briefly describe your cladogram and describe the key features of each animal group.

[5 Marks]

Question 5

Discuss the "African Eve" hypothesis for human evolution (monophyletic origins) and why this is sometimes called "Mitochondrial Eve". While most people accept this to be the best hypothesis for our origins there are some researchers that argue for a polyphyletic origins and that the different groups interbred and became assimilated into the gene stock. Write a four-page (1200 words) essay assessing the African Eve Hypothesis and analyse the evidence for this with respective to alternative hypotheses.

[20 Marks]

Question 6

The Star News Paper Tuesday February 21 2006 carried an article called "Stone Age softies"
. Critically review the contents of this article for accuracy and contrast this "View Point" with the article entitled "A taste for meat" on the BBC website

Dr Richard Knight
Co-ordinator: National Information Society Learnerships - Ecological Informatics
Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology
University of the Western Cape
Private Bag X17
Bellville 7535

Phone 27 + 21 + 959 3940
Fax 27 + 21 + 959 1237