Human evolution, at first, seems extraordinary. How could the process that gave rise to slugs and oak trees and fish produce a creature that can fly to the moon and invent the Internet and cross the ocean in boats?

Steven Pinker

Learning Path 1

Learning Path 2

Documentary Film

The story of human evolution is a story of the gradual accumulation of physical and mental characteristics that make us the species that we are today. To complete this activity, watch, and be ready to discuss, one of the following documentaries.

Your Inner Fish
Nat Geo: The Evolution of Humans
Discovery Channel: Human Evolution
Your Inner Monkey
Crash Course Big History: Human Evolution

For Review Only!

Podcast

Would rather learn about human evolution on the go? Some of my favourite forms of media are audiobooks and podcasts. Listen to one (optionally take notes) and be prepared to talk about it!

Human Evolution - In Our Time

Melvyn Bragg discusses the story of human evolution, a tale not of one species, but of many – some of whom walked the Earth at the same time.

Listen to it here
Origin Stories Episode 01: On Two Feet with Carol Ward

Every good story starts at the beginning. In the first episode of Origin Stories we talk with Carol Ward about one of the first things that distinguished our ancestors from the other primates, the weird way we walk around.

Listen to it here
The Origin of Our Species

Professor Chris Stringer, Research Leader in Human Origins at the Natural History Museum, London, gave the 2015 Haldane Lecture at Wolfson College, Oxford. He discusses how we are mostly, but not entirely, ‘Out of Africa’.

Listen to it here
Podcast: The Science of Human Evolution

How have humans evolved and what drives this evolution? Evolutionary biologist Scott Solomon, author of Future Humans, discusses the science of human evolution. Listen in iTunes.

Listen to it here
Poster / Illustration

Create a visual aid which will help you discuss one of the following topics:

  • early origins of humans in Africa and the migration of early humans out of Africa to the rest of the world
  • interactions between early humans and Neanderthals
  • technological developments of early humans and the increasingly sophisticated use of stone tools and early metalworking
  • the shift of many early humans from a nomadic hunter-gatherer way of life to more settled agricultural communities
Example Forthcoming
Creative Writing

Write a historically-inspired short story from the perspective a hominid species other than Homo sapiens!

Inspired by ``the Ugly Little Boy`` by Isaac Asimov
PowerPoint Presentation

Create a PowerPoint presentation that effectively addresses one aspect of the anthropological origins of humans

  • early origins of humans in Africa and the migration of early humans out of Africa to the rest of the world
  • interactions between early humans and Neanderthals
  • technological developments of early humans and the increasingly sophisticated use of stone tools and early metalworking
  • the shift of many early humans from a nomadic hunter-gatherer way of life to more settled agricultural communities
Sample PowerPoint on the First Agricultural Revolution
Comparing Theories

Describe the two principal theories of early human migration: the Out of Africa and Multiregional theories. Demonstrate which you believe is most likely accurate.

Multiregional vs. Out-of-Africa Theories

Essay

Research and form a thesis on a chosen topic on the theme of early human evolution, human migration, or the First Agricultural Revolution. Write an essay with a clear introduction, body and conclusion.

Thesis Statements: Four Steps to a Great Essay
Sample Rubric, ie. the kinds of things I'm looking for
Question: What advantages did agriculture have over the hunter-gather way of life?

Present a well-developed argument (visually, essay or paragraph form, PowerPoint) as to the advantages that agriculture had over the hunter-gather way of life?

Why shift to agriculture?
Notes and reflections: your choice of text

Take notes, or reflect upon an journal or magazine article or text chapter which deals with early human evolution up to and including the first agricultural revolution.

Reflection: Eurocentric History

Define and share your thoughts on the idea of eurocentrism. Consider these prompts:

  • What is bias? Is my learning biased?
  • Have I learned about history from a eurocentric perspective?
  • What different perspectives would I like to learn about?
  • What are oral histories?
  • Why are oral histories important?
  • Is the separation of prehistory and history ~4000 BCE with the arrival of fully-formed written scripts biased, eurocentric or neither?

Why learn about tenses anyway?