Human Evolution: A Comparison of the Genus Australopithecus and Homo

Explore these interactive timelines to

// Team A: compare characteristics of the genus Australopithecus and the genus Homo. In doing so, define criteria for your comparison by yourselves.

// Team B: Sum up the development from early hominins to Homo Sapiens based on the interactive timelines.

Timeline 1: Origins of Humankind

Timeline 2: Human Evolution Timeline

If you have time, you can also explore this interactive documentation for further independent learning: Becoming Human: an Interactive Documentary


Human Evolution: Making Sense of Ancient DNA

In May 2008, a pinky bone was found in a cave in Siberia (Wikipedia: Denisova Cave) and soon news reports enthusiastically claimed to have found a new human. Soon scientists had to revise their hypothesis and thinking due to new modern state-of-the-art molecular analysis, which lead to updates in the evidence for events in human history twice: in 2010 and 2015.

Team A:

Briefly sum up the significance of the discovery in the Denison Cave and explain the difference between the initial and recent classification of the discovery.

Team B:

You do not need a summary of the discovery, as you’ve already dealt with the topic in your  last exam and prepared to present the topic in class.

Your tasks are:

Explain the difference between the initial and recent classification of the discovery and outline how the method of PCR (Polymerase Chain reaction) can be useful in the investigation.

Here are the links to today’s resources:

Human evolution (Evolution 101, University of Berkeley).

Making sense of hominin DNA.

PCR animation I (Team B only)

PCR animation II (Team B only)

PCR information III (Team B only)


Bio Q2: What is Evolution? What is NOT Evolution?

These three podcasts are taken from a series Evolution 101 by Zachary Moore, available on iTunes.

Listen to one of the podcasts and sum up the essential information on the questions. Then, get together in teams of three and discuss the biological dimensions of evolution. You make notes and can sum up your discussion in class.

What is Evolution?

What is not Evolution?

What is evidence against evolution?

Coevolution- An Evolutionary Arms Race

One passage in Lewis Carrol’s „Through the Looking Glass, and what Alice Found There“ (1871, sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland“) has been picked up and used as an analogy for evolutionary processes:

Well, in our country,‘ said Alice, still panting a little, ‚you’d generally get to somewhere else—if you ran very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.‘

‚A slow sort of country!‘ said the Queen. ‚Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!‘

The Red Queen Hypothesis suggests a constant evolutionary arms race: there are constant interactive selection pressures on  involved organisms leading to evolutionary change: coevolution.

Here are the links to the materials we used in class:

Evolutionary arms race (film)

Evolutionary arms race (materials and exercises)


Modern Evolutionary Synthesis – Evolution Before our Eyes

As we have combined the ideas of many biological disciplines to a theory of modern evolutionary synthesis, we can apply this theory to evolutionary events that occur right before our eyes:  for example, the evolution of antibiotic resistance.

Watch this animation: Mutation- Selection: The Bacteria Resist

Furthermore, read „The Evolution of Antibiotic resistance“ on page 115 in your workbook.

Then evaluate in detail to what extend parts of the modern synthetic theory of evolution can be applied. Also explain why this example displays „evolution before our eyes“.


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