Using the information [osteological data, paleoenvironmental data, stable isotope data and cultural data] presented above, you will analyze and discuss the following five behaviors/factors:

  1. Locomotion: H ow did they move about their environment?
  2. Diet: W hat kind of food did they eat? Territoriality over food?
  3. Tool Use: D id they use tools? If so, what kind of tools and what were they used for?
  4. Social Structure/Mating Pattern: Noyau, pair-bonded, polyandry, s-m polygyny, m-m polygyny? How many males/females mated and other possible behaviors (choice, mate-defense, promiscuity, dominance hierarchy, alpha-males regulating other male mating behavior, sneaker males etc…); Territoriality?
  5. Taxonomy: Are your fossils hominins? If so, assign them to a taxonomic group (genus, species). You can assume all of the skeletons belong to the same genus and species. Use popper binomial nomenclature (i.e. yoursis Homo sapiens)

* Please analyze each behavior/factor independently of all others! Please head each section of your analysis with the behavior you are analyzing. NOTE: There will be overlap and repetition in your analysis, it is okay.


When discussing the possible anatomical and social behaviors of these fossils, please consult your book and past lectures in the Primate and Hominin sections of the course. It is here that you will find the information you need in order to explain the possible “behaviors” of your fossils.

Remember to support your discussion with evidence from the readings as well as the described skeletal characteristics above. Do not just list or briefly discuss possible anatomical/social behaviors. For example, if you think the rocks are tools, why do think so, how do you know? If you think these fossils are hominins how do you know this, what evidence (physical, environmental, cultural etc.) indicate this?

Please take the perspective that YOU are the teacher and I am your student. When you write to your audience (me) you can assume I am an educated individual but I do not have any knowledge of this topic. Therefore, in your report you will need to educate your reader as to why the skeletal anatomy and rocks, suggest certain behaviors. Providing evidence for your discussion is the difference between an A/B  and a C (or lower)!

Useful readings/videos include:

  • Primate Social Systems/Communication
  • Primate Mating Systems
  • Primates as Models for Early Human Behavior
  • Comparative Anatomy
  • Reconstructing Ancient Environments, Locomotion and Diet
  • Australopithecine and Early homo lectures


You will be graded on how effectively you analyze your fossils and address the topics (1-5) mentioned in the assignment.

  • Your description and analysis is worth 90 points (18 points for each area)
  • Your analysis should be
    • Backed with evidence
      • from primate behavior, known hominin finds, paleoenvironmental, stable isotope and cultural data
    • Areas of analysis:
      • locomotion
      • diet
      • social structure, mating patterns
      • tool use
      • taxonomy
  • Grammar/Mechanics: 10 points
  • Spelling errors?
  • Mechanical errors?
  • Sentence structure errors?
  • Has report been proofread?
  •  reports must use an easy to read font like Ariel or Times New Roman, size 11-12 and be double spaced.
  • Successful  report will be between 6-10 pages double
  • The fossil that you will be analyzing will be as followed:

You Found A Fossil!

The year is 2021. You are a paleoanthropological graduate student working in east Africa.While excavating the Kibish Formation near the Omo Riveryou and your team discover over two-hundred fossilized bonesrepresenting as many as 20 individuals. The fossil remainsincludeboth adult males, females and juveniles. The sedimentsdate to between2.8-3million years old. Your first assessment suggests they could be possible human ancestors (hominins).

Osteological Data:


• Centralized foramen magnum

• Brain size is around 600cubic centimeters

• Face is prognathic (compared to humans but much less when compared to apes)

Dentition (Teeth):

• Mandible and maxilla

o teeth showapical and occlusal (grinding) wear

o jaws lack diastemas

o jaws show medium-small canines

o large flat molars with rounded cusps but only 50% larger than a modern humans

o thick enamel

• The teeth show

o a microscopic wear pattern of light scratching

Post-cranial (below the skull) characteristics:

o The skeletons show

o arms slightly longer than their legs

o hands have small slightly curvedphalanges

o Pelvis is bowl-like

▪ It has a short robust ilium that curves front to back

▪ It has a short robust ischium

o Femur with

▪ a long femoral neck

▪ bicondylar angle

▪ obturator externus groove

o It has a robust tibia

o Foot with

▪ a convergent toe

• The male skeletons areapproximately20 percent larger thanthe female skeletons.

Paleo-environmental Data

• Analysis of the fossilized pollen you collected from your site suggests the environment these fossils lived in consisted of pockets of wooded areas, interspersed throughout a very large, open grassy landscape. There are many predators including lions, hyenas, snakes, birds and even large bodied primates. The wooded areas offered a variety of trees and shrubs that appeal to a range of insects, birds and small mammals as well as fruits, grasses leaves and roots.

Stable Isotope Data

• Stable isotope data from the teeth shows a C4 signature.

Cultural Data

• Located at the same site, you also found some rocks

o Some are thick, pebble-like with battered, sharp edges

o Some are thinner, with sharp edges

o Others are round stones that fit in the hand but have evidence of percussion marks (small scars on the rock)

o The rocks are not uniform. They vary in size and shape.

• Near the rocks you found some highly fracturedanimal bones. You find a lot of

o legbones

o skulls

• Under a microscope you see that the animal leg and skull bones show

o long abrasions

o some of the abrasions have a V-shaped shape to them

o on top of many of the V-shaped abrasions, there are abrasions with sides that are parallel to each other.

Requirements: 6

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