This edition: Origin & Dispersal of Modern Humans
The main question of physical anthropology since its origins in the 1770s has been the origin of modern humans. At that time the question referred to the different populations of humans. Today it refers to our origins as a species in evolutionary time. This lesson begins by introducing you to the three current models for human origins. Then a physical comparison is made between modern humans and Neandertals, in which it is clear that the brain case is where we differ the most. You will journey to southern Ethiopia to see one of the earliest modern humans, discovered in 1967, but forgotten until recently. Associated with modern humans is a great advancement in technology that marks the Upper Paleolithic. The lesson ends with researchers discussing the advent of art and personal adornment and what this might have meant to the people of the Upper Paleolithic.