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STUDY GUIDE 1 FOR “ALMOST HUMAN”, PROLOGUE AND PART 1 (PAGES 11-104)
What is the name of the main author of the book?
In what country does he live and work?
Who found the fossils that would go on to change the author’s life?
What did the author find on his farm when he was a child that first sparked his interest in the past?
The author’s first attempt at college ended in failure. What was his initial major?
What job did the author land at a local TV station?
What were a couple of things that the author did or encountered that
made him decide on a career in searching for and analyzing fossils?
What opportunity gave him his first real experience in paleoanthropology? What did he find that had him “hooked”?
What did Raymond Dart find embedded in limestone rocks that would
eventually shift the belief in the minds of paleoanthropologists that
hominin origins were from Africa? What did Dart name this species?
How did the finds from Sterkfontein aid Dart’s and his colleague
Robert Broom’s claims? What were they, and how did the anatomy of these
specimens’ reveal their ties to the hominin line of evolution?
In which country did all of this take place?
Who were the Leakeys and where did they work? What did they find there? What was the age of these discoveries?
What was found at the Lake Turkana site?
What was found by Donald Johanson in Ethiopia (specifically Hadar)?
What did all of these finds mean for where the search for more hominin fossils should take place?
Approximately when did the hominin and ape line split? How is this known?
What did Ardipithecus look like?
How are Australopithecus and Paranthropus similar to modern humans? How do they differ?
How did Homo erectus differ from Australopithecus?
When and from which continent did modern humans evolve?
How does the author think his generation’s approach to science differs from that of the previous generation’s approach?
What was the Atlas project? How has this technique been made obsolete by Google Earth? What results did the project yield?
What was Tim White’s prediction about the field of paleoanthropology?
Why did the author have a falling out with Ron Clarke? How was this dispute settled by the university’s administrators?
What was the scientific name given to the hominin that was discovered
on Flores Island, Indonesia? What was so unique about this species?
What was the controversy that developed concerning access to the bones?
What did the author see on his vacation that prompted him to put
together a team to investigate it further? Where was this located? How did the author’s eventual publication of his finds lead to yet more controversy?
When he initially examined the rock with the fossil hominin remains
back at his university (Wits), Berger was able to tell that is was a
young individual when it died. How did he know this?
What is the process known as ‘preparation’? What is an ‘air scribe’ used for?
What did Berger find upon his return to the pit where the original specimens were discovered?
What does “Malapa” mean?
What mistake did the author realize that he had made when Charlton
began work on the block of breccia with the humerus and skeleton?
What was the emerging trend in paleoanthropology concerning the time
between when a fossil hominin specimen was discovered and when the
analyses were published?
After he realized the full scope of his findings, what actions did Berger take to continue the project and begin the analyses?
So did the author and his colleagues determine that the fossils were from the genus Homo or Australopithecus? What portion of the skeleton was missing at this point that would help them make this determination?
In addition to the section of the juvenile humerus, what else was
recovered from the limestone block that Berger found on his last visit
to the Malapa site?
How did Berger’s wife contribute to this determination?
Why was it difficult to decide if it was Homo or Australopithecus?
Approximately how old were the remains determined to be?
Why did Berger and his colleagues decide that the new Malapa species belonged to Australopithecus and not Homo? In other words, which traits proved convincing to them?
What does “sediba” mean?
What does Berger mean when he says that “… we don’t know how old sediba might be; we only knew how old the Malapa skeletons were.”?
What is Berger’s attitude when it comes to allowing other scientists access to the fossils under his care?