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The setting for this case study is a paleontological dig in East Africa, where an undergraduate student has unearthed part of what appears to be an ancestral human skull. Students read the story and then examine a number of primate skulls. They are asked to build a phylogeny based on their observations.
Strasser, M. Elizabeth
The case study includes teaching notes. It was originally designed for a lower division laboratory course that accompanies a lecture course in physical (biological) anthropology. Also, note that the lesson is titled “The missing link.” This phrase can reinforce misconceptions. For clarification, see our page on common teaching pitfalls.
- Present-day species evolved from earlier species; the relatedness of organisms is the result of common ancestry.
- An organism’s features reflect its evolutionary history.
- There is a fit between the form of a trait and its function, though not always a perfect fit.
- The fossil record provides evidence for evolution.