Charles Darwin and Human Evolution

Darwin was one of the first scientist to propose that Human evolution started in Africa. He based this proposition on the fact that the closest living human relatives are the chimpanzees and the gorillas, and they both live in Africa. Which meant that their common ancestor probably also lived in Africa. In Darwin’s time, this was a controversial proposal, both the proposal that human evolved (because it meant that humans were not special and created by God, but instead were part of the natural world) and the proposal that human evolved in Africa, for those scientists who did agree with Darwin that human evolved, it was too hard to take (for Europeans) that humans had their ancestry in Africa, for social/colonial reasons. Instead, most Europeans scientists’ hypothesis was that human evolution either occurred in Europe or in Asia (lands of “civilized” men, in their colonial views). Fossils discoveries in the XX century (as well as molecular data in the late XX et XXI century) proved that they were wrong and that human evolution did start in Africa.


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You will write an essay on human evolution. You will need in your essay to compare scientific knowledge and pseudo-scientific arguments or argument based on religion. When writing your essay use as a source both the creationism cartoon and the reading “The bone of our ancestors” as well as the movie “A species odyssey”. In your essay you will need to discuss Lucy (in the creationist cartoon on human evolution, in the movie and in the reading “The bones of our ancestors”) and you will need to give some background on the discovery of “Lucy” and why it is an important fossil. You also need to discuss another important fossil, the “Taung Child”, and why it was first dismissed as a human ancestor and why it was later recognized as another important human ancestor as a “missing link”. Why has the “Taung Child” been sometimes called the “missing link”?

In your essay you will also need to discuss the Piltdown man and why Europeans in the 19th century and in the earlier part of the 20th century were so inclined to think that Human evolution occurred in Europe or Asia? Also you need to discuss why is it unsettling, for some religious groups, to think that human evolved? You need to back up all your arguments with valid research (just do not take any statement made as a proof that it is correct).
*I couldn’t upload the move referenced in the directions, it is available on youtube and is called “A Species Odyssey”**

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