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Sunday, 03 December 2023, 11:35 (11:35 AM) CST, day 337 of 2023

Prehistoric Cultures

Fall 2012 Calendar -- DAY  [archive]

Fall 2012 Calendar  -- EVENING [archive]

Dates and Times to Remember 

class slides on-line 

Sunday, 03 December 2023, 17:35 (05:35 PM) GMT, day 337 of 2023
. . . in History 
  . . . in Headlines

      Babel Fish Translation 
~ translate this page

OWL logo, Online Writing Lab, Purdue University.


!Kung San Hunters
!Kung San Hunters

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-- a historical look at "Eve"
and other important finds

58 min., 1987, CC, VC 961

"Mitochondrial Eve"

"An artist's impression of Mitochondrial Eve
who probably lived in Africa,
about 150,000 years ago."

a Nova video

See also The First Family

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"Structure of a generalized eukaryotic cell, illustrating the cell's three-dimensional nature."

"Structure of a
generalized eukaryotic cell,
the cell's
three-dimensional nature."

Abstract Terms / Concepts Notes
Cultures Sites Individuals Bibliography / Resources Questions



This video discusses the origin of the human species and natural selection with development in antibody research by Vincent Sarich and Allen Wilson, muscle and skeletal study, skin pigment study, and genetic study of humans and apes.

Wilson and Sarich, using blood protein analysis, suggests a chimpanzee-human split about 5 mya. Charles Sibley and Jon Ahlquist of Yale conducted experiments with two separate strands of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid, the complex organic molecule that encodes the genetic information in the chromosomes) and allowed strands of different species to hook up, then measure the strength of the new bond. Their research suggests a chimpanzee-human split about 7 mya.

Douglas Wallace, noting that mitochondrial DNA is inherited exclusively through the female (rather than through mothers and fathers as is the case with more familiar DNA), looked for human populations with mitochondrial DNA most similar to modern nonhuman primates and found this in Asia. Rebecca Cann, looked for the greatest amount of variation in the mitochondrial DNA from placentas and found the most difference to be among the !King San people of Africa. Scientists suggest that about 200,00 ybp (years before present), a population in Africa contained a woman who was our ancestor and gave us our mitochondrial DNA.

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Did we all originate from the same man and woman? By studying the genetic maps of human beings past and present, genetic determinations are challenging the theory of evolution as we understand it. Fossils of ape and humans lend support to the discovery that organic evolution is rapid and episodic.

  • The first part of this video is a good review for the Final Exam.

  • Dates change rapidly in Prehistoric Cultures; ignore the dates in this video. The latest dates are included in "Times to Remember."

    • Homo erectus moved out of Africa ca. 1.8 mya, not ca. 1.0 mya

    • preliminary information on "Millennium Man " [sic.] (04 December 2000) suggests a ca. 6 mya hominid, which fits into Sarich's 5 - 7 mya divergence model

  • Cf, Week 13 for presentation of opposing argument, the "Regional Continuity," or the "Multiregional Hypothesis," concerning the development from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens. Was "Mitochondrial Eve" here at 200,000 ybp?

Terms / Concepts / Features

  • antibodies

  • locomotion behavior

  • DNA

    • mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA)

      • organelles inherited exclusively through the mother

      • "Mitochondrial Eve"

      • comparing human mtDNA with that of the apes suggests that Asia, not Africa, is the home of modern humans

      • the people with the greatest degree of variation in their mtDNA are the !Kung San people of Africa

    • nuclear DNA

    • DNA "fingerprinting"
  • autoradiograph

  • molecular clocks

    • "constancy of rates test" (Vincent Sarich)

    • divergent rates

    • ape - human divergence point (pongid / hominid divergence point)

      • 5 - 7

  • natural selection

  • "Out of Africa"
    "Regional-Continuity Model"

    aka "Rapid-Replacement Model"

    aka "Total Replacement Model"


    aka "Multiregional Hypothesis"



  • Use the dates on the "Times to Remember" WebPage

    • Homo erectus moved out of Africa ca. 1.8 mya, or even earlier, not ca. 1.0 mya

  • Human genes are 98% the same as chimpanzees

  • Human genes are 97% the same as gorillas

  • Bipedality is the crucial adaptation that separates hominids from apes (pongids and hylobates)

  • Shanidar finds (northern Iraq) include an individual

    • ca. 40 years old

    • with a withered right arm, from a childhood injury that would have made that arm useless

    • who had a blow to the outside of his eye sockets, and therefore was blind in that eye

    • had arthritis

    • had a fractured foot, and other fractures

    • This implied that he had been taken care of by members of his group. He had trouble walking, seeing. . . .

  • There is flower pollen found at Shanidar, and from this data it is assumed that the Neandertal buried their dead
  • There are two reasons to keep someone alive: (1) because of something emotional, and, (2) a person is a source of information

  • Cro-magnons apparently planned their hunts more than Neandertals

    • i.e., they were "strategic hunters" that planned ahead.

  • Neandertals, on the other hand, were "opportunistic hunters."

    • They were not very organized about hunting.

    • They were not very efficient

  • Note relationship between sunlight and synthesis of vitamin D in the skin, and skin color. Skin color is response to the intensity of UV light in different geographic regions and the extent of clothing required. A darker pigment protects in the hot equatorial sun. A light skin aids in the synthesis of vitamin D in areas of weaker sun rays and where people may wear clothing with less skin exposed. This helps prevent rickets.

  • Your "average Neandertal" would be considerably stronger than your average modern trained weight lifter.

  • Homo erectus was not the "first toolmaker," or even the first stone toolmaker.

  • "Bone Tools Suggest Hominids [A. robustus] Ate Termites" -- ABC News




  • Neander Valley, Germany
  • Shanidar, Northern Iraq
  • Laetoli footprints (3.5 - 3.7 mya)
  • Afar, Site 333
  • Laetoli (Tanzania; ca. 3.3 mya hominid footprints)



Publications / Bibliography

  • Shreeve, J. “Argument Over a Woman.” In Discover, v.11, no. 8 (Aug. 1990): 52-59.

  • Gould, S.J. “Where We First Stood.” In Discover, v.7, no. 5 (May 1986): 52.

  • Lewin, Roger. 1984. "DNA Reveals Surprises in Human Family Tree." Science, 226: 1179-1182.

  • Pfeiffer, J. “Cro-Magnon Hunters Were Really Us, Working out Strategies for Survival.” In Smithsonian (Oct. 1986): 75.

  • “The Search for Adam and Eve.” In Newsweek, (Jan. 11, 1988): 46-52.

  • Wilson, Allan C. 1985. "The Molecular Basis of Evolution." Scientific American, 253:4:164-173.



  • Are Neandertals our ancestors?

    • Were they redheads?

    • Did Neandertals survive until ca. 25,000 ybp (rather than only until ca. 30,000 ybp)?

  • Did Neandertals interbreed with Homo Sapiens Sapiens?

  • Is there a half-Homo erectus half-Homo sapiens sapiens in Java? (2001)

Homo sapiens

| Primates -- Contemporary | Primates -- Prehistoric | Hominids | Australopithecus |

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Alternative Name







Heidelberg, Steinheim, Swanscombe, Kabwe . . .





"Early Moderns"

Cro-Magnon, Border Cave, Qafzeh, etc.



UMD Students

Special Case: Piltdown

Adapted from Intoduction to Physical Anthropology, 8th ed, Jurmain, Nelson, Kilgore, and Trevathan
(Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2000, pp. 285 - 290).

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