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Option D.3 - Human Evolution

Option D.3 - Human Evolution

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Published by IB Screwed
IB Biology option topic D - Evolution.
Includes methods for dating rocks and fossils, half-life, major anatomical features that define humans as primates, trends illustrated by the fossils of hominids, incompleteness of the fossil record, correlation between the change in diet and increase in brain size, genetic and cultural evolution.
IB Biology option topic D - Evolution.
Includes methods for dating rocks and fossils, half-life, major anatomical features that define humans as primates, trends illustrated by the fossils of hominids, incompleteness of the fossil record, correlation between the change in diet and increase in brain size, genetic and cultural evolution.

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Published by: IB Screwed on Aug 17, 2014
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Option D.3
 –
 Human Evolution
D.3.1
 –
 Outline the method for dating rocks and fossils using radioisotopes, with reference to
14
C and
40
K
Radioisotopes are used to determine the age of rocks containing fossils. The age is determined by analysing how much the isotope has decayed. Carbon-14 (
14
C) and Potassium-40 (
40
K) dating, the age in half-lives can be deduced from the decay curve.
14
C has a half-life of 5730 years, so it can only give accurate measurements for samples that are 1000-100,000 years old. The percentage of
14
C isotopes remaining is measured.
40
K has a half-life of 1250 million years, so it is used for dating samples older than 100,000 years. The proportion of parent isotope
40
K is compared to the daughter isotope
40
Ar.
D.3.2
 –
 Define half-life
The time taken for the radioactivity to fall to half of its original level.
D.3.3
 –
 Deduce the approximate age of materials based on a simple decay curve for a radioisotope
See D.3.1
 
D.3.4
 –
 Describe the major anatomical features that define humans as primates
Primates include apes, lemurs, tarsiers and monkeys. The anatomical features include:
 
Grasping limbs
 
 –
 long fingers and separate opposable thumbs.
 
Mobile arms
 –
 shoulder joints allowing movement in three planes, bones of the shoulder joint girdle allowing weight to be transferred via the arms.
 
Stereoscopic vision
 –
 forward facing eyes on a flattened face, giving overlapping fields of view
 
Skull modified for upright posture
 The similarities make it clear that humans evolved from other primate species.
D.3.5
 –
 Outline the trends illustrated by the fossils of
 Ardipithecus ramidus
,
 Australopithecus
 including
 A. afarensis
 and
 A. africanus
, and
Homo
 including
H. habilis
,
H. erectus
,
H. neanderthalensis
 and
H. sapiens
.
The Hominidae family includes humans and other bipedal species. All other species in the Hominidae family are now extinct. In the past, several Hominidae species coexisted, including
Homo sapiens
 and
 neanderthalensis
. Fossils of hominids show very clear trends: increasing adaptation to bipedalism and increasing brain size in relation to body size.
 Ardipithecus
 fossils were found in Ethiopia.
 Australopithecus
 and
Homo habilis
 fossils were found in Southern or Eastern Africa.
Homo erectus
 fossils were found in Eastern Africa and Asia.
Homo neanderthalensis
fossils were found in Europe and
Homo sapiens
 fossils in many parts of the world.
 
The
 Ardipithecus ramidus
 from 4.4 million years ago only has fragments of skull that have been found. They seem to be an intermediate species between chimpanzees and
 Australopithecus
. This is due to:
 
Smaller incisors than chimps
 
Blunt canines that project less than chimps
 
Small numbers of large molars
 
Foramen magnum further forward than in apes, suggesting that it was partially bipedal
D.3.6
 –
 State that, at various stages in hominid evolution, several species may have coexisted
An example is
H. neanderthalensis
 and
H. sapiens
, which seemed to coexist in Europe for a time.
D.3.7
 –
 Discuss the incompleteness of the fossil record and the resulting uncertainties about human evolution
The fossil record provides much of our understanding of human evolution. However, there are many gaps in the record, which is normal for all organisms. Decomposition is much more likely to occur than fossilisation. The gaps in the record mean that we cannot fully clarify the relationships between different hominid species. Sometimes, the discovery of new fossils can lead to major changes in the theories of human evolution and origin. For example, a new
 Australopithecus
 species was discovered which has characteristics between
 Australopithecus ramidus
 and
 Australopithecus afarensis
, yet dating shows that the three species did not coexist but form an evolutionary lineage. Of course, the details of the theory are still disputed.

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