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Introduction to

Time: T/Th, 1:00-2:15
Location: TBD
Instructor: Zoe Rawski
Email: Zoe.Rawski@utsa.edu
Office: MH 3.04.17
Office Hours: By appointment

Course Description:

As one of the four sub-disciplines of anthropology, physical (or biological)

anthropology focuses on the biological characteristics and variation of humans, human
ancestors, and our primate relatives. In this introductory course, we will study the
evolution, ecology and genetic variability of our species as well as these close relatives,
both living and extinct.

Course Goals and Objectives:

This course will cover three main areas: (1) evolution and genetics; (2) biological
and behavioral variation in non-human primates; and (3) human evolution and ancestral
In the first section of this course, we will cover basic biological concepts such as
genetics, inheritance, and evolution in order to provide a foundational understanding of
these principles. This section will include discussion of Linnaeus, Mendel, Darwin and other
major scholars who have contributed to our current understanding of evolution and
inheritance, as well as more recent advances in genetic research and their impact on these
interpretations. We will also apply these concepts to modern human populations.
As humans are biologically classified under the Order Primates, a comparative
understanding of the behavior and ecology of non-human primates is critical to
understanding ourselves as a species. During the second segment of the course, we will
gain a basic understanding of our closest living relatives within the Order Primates.
In the third and final section of this course, we will focus on the human lineage, both
past and present. This section will include evidence for major ancestral species in the
hominid lineage, our origins on the African continent and later diaspora, and adaptations of
the various species in this lineage.
By the end of this course, students will be able to:
1. Describe the major principles and mechanisms of evolution and inheritance

2. Identify our evolutionary and ecological place in nature and understand how
biological anthropologists collect and use data to understand our biology and
3. Understand and articulate the ways biological anthropologists investigate human
evolution through morphological and molecular data.
4. Demonstrate an awareness of the cumulative and collaborative nature of biological
anthropology and work effectively towards a shared scientific goal.
5. Recognize that humans are a product of both biological and cultural processes

Required Materials:

For this course, we will be using the textbook Essentials of

Physical Anthropology by Clark Spencer Larsen. We will use
the 3rd edition, released in 2015 (ISBN: 978-0393938661).
The book may be purchased online as a hard copy or ebook or through the campus bookstore. A copy will also be
placed on reserve in the library for student use. NOTE: You
may not check out reserve books, as they are for in-library
use only.
Additional readings will be provided on Blackboard Learn.

Course Requirements:
Exams (3 exams, 10% each)
Weekly Reading Quizzes (13x)
Weekly Muddiest Point
Lab Assignments (3 labs, 10% each)
In Class Participation (5%
attendance and 3 in-class
assignments 5% each)



Exams (30%): At the end of each of the three

sections, we will take an in-class exam to test
for understanding and comprehension. Exams will be primarily multiple choice and
true/false, with some short answer and longer written components. These exams
are not cumulative, but rather pertain directly to the course topics covered in that
particular segment. Each exam will be worth 10% of the final grade. NOTE: Missed
exams can only be made up in the case of an excused (i.e. documented) absence.

Weekly reading quizzes (15%): Each THURSDAY (unless noted) you will be
required to complete a brief reading quiz on Blackboard Learn. These quizzes are
DUE BY 12 PM ON THE DAY THEY ARE ASSIGNED. Quizzes will typically consist of
8-10 questions, which will primarily be multiple choice and true/false. These
quizzes are intended to test for comprehension and completion of the weekly
assigned readings. You will have 13 quizzes in total, and your lowest two may be
dropped. NOTE: Reading quizzes will NOT be accepted late.

Weekly muddiest point discussion (5%): Each TUESDAY (unless noted) you
will be required to submit a brief discussion to the discussion thread on Blackboard
Learn. These discussions are DUE BY 12 PM ON THE DAY THEY ARE ASSIGNED. In
2-3 sentences, please describe any issues or questions that may have come up
during the weeks reading. These muddy points will be graded only for
completion, and will help me to identify what points need extra clarification each
Lab assignments (30%): Throughout the semester, you will have a total of three
major assignments due. These assignments correlate directly to our three major
sections, and will consist of the following:
o Part 1: Evolution and Genetics Lab (10%)
This lab will require you to critically analyze population data from
Peppered Moths in order to explore how environmental changes can
influence natural selection.
o Part 2: Non-human Primates Lab (10%)
This lab will require you to observe primate behavior using live
webcam feeds from the Houston Zoo. You will be required to observe
the gorillas and chimpanzees and compare behavioral observations
between the two species.
o Part 3: Hominin Evolution Lab (10%)
This lab will require you to utilize the librarys skull cast resources to
compare cranial capacities and other morphological traits of hominin
skulls. NOTE: You must go to the library during regularly scheduled
hours to complete this assignment, so plan ahead!
In class participation (20%): This component of your grade includes both daily
attendance and participation in in-class activities. It is important that you attend all
classes in order to better understand the material and additional material not
presented in the course readings. Please note that in class activities can only be
made up in the case of an excused (i.e. documented) absence. There will be three
major in class activities correlating to our three major sections. Participation grades
will consist of the following components:
o Part 1: M&M Genetics (5%)
o Part 2: Debating Primate Culture (5%)
o Part 3: Becoming Human (5%)
o Attendance: (5%)

Course Policies:

Use of technology in the classroom: During our class, I will refrain from using my
cell phone for texting, checking emails, or any other purposes. I ask that you show
me the same courtesy and do not use your cell phone during class. If you have to
take a call in case of an emergency, please exit the classroom to do so in order to
minimize the distraction to the rest of the class. In this same vein, I ask that all
laptop use be restricted to class purposes such as taking notes. If either of these
agreements are violated, and you are found using your laptop inappropriately or
using your cellphone in any capacity, you will receive a warning. If I have to ask
again, you will be referred to student conduct.

Late work: In this class, the policy better late than never always applies. Even an
extremely low grade on an assignment will do less damage to your course grade
than a zero will. Late assignments will be docked 10% per class period that they are
late, up to a maximum of six class periods.

Exam make-ups: As discussed above, exams can only be made up in the event of a
documented emergency, mandatory university function, or religious observance. In
any case, documentation must be provided before a make-up exam will be
scheduled. You MUST contact me within 24 hours of the missed exam to notify me of
any situations that arrive. In the case of planned religious observances or university
functions, advance notice is required.
Extra credit: Extra credit assignments may be assigned at the discretion of the
instructor. If an extra credit opportunity is given to any student, it will be made
available for all students.

Academic integrity and classroom behavior: All students are required to adhere
to the standards put forth by the UTSA Student Code of Conduct. This document
covers all issues of student conduct, including academic dishonesty, plagiarism, and
other inappropriate activities in the classroom. If any student is caught cheating on
an exam or assignment, they will receive an automatic zero on that grade. If the
offense is repeated, a zero will be assigned for the course grade. In order to avoid
any unintentional violations of this code, I encourage you to review the document in
its entirety, as your continued enrollment in this course will serve as your
agreement to the rules included therein. The entire document can be found here:

Course Schedule:

*NOTE: This schedule is subject to change at the instructors discretion*


Class Day

Class Topic
Tuesday Syllabus/Introduction -DO: Review syllabus after
Thursday What is physical (or
-READ: Larsen, Ch. 1
-DO: Reading quiz on BBL
Tuesday History of
-READ: Larsen, Ch. 2
evolutionary theory
-DO: Muddiest point on BBL
Thursday Darwins theory of
-READ: Larsen, Ch. 2
-DO: Reading quiz on BBL
Tuesday The cell and DNA
-READ: Larsen, Ch. 3
-DO: Muddiest point on BBL
Thursday Mendelian genetics
-READ: Larsen, Ch. 3
and inheritance
-DO: Reading quiz on BBL
Tuesday Population genetics
-READ: Larsen, Ch. 4
In Class Activity:
-DO: Muddiest point on BBL
M&M Genetics
Thursday The four forces of
-READ: Larsen, Ch. 4
-DO: Reading quiz on BBL
Tuesday Modern human
-READ: Larsen, Ch. 5
biology and the race
-DO: Muddiest point on BBL
Thursday Human adaptation
-READ: Larsen, Ch. 5
and variability
-DO: Reading quiz on BBL
Tuesday In class review for
-READ: Exam review on BBL
Exam 1
-DO: Prepare review
questions for class
-DO: Study for Exam 1
-DONT: Panic
Tuesday What is a primate?
-READ: Larsen, Ch. 6
-DO: Muddiest point on BBL
Thursday Primate anatomy
-READ: Larsen, Ch. 6
-DO: Reading quiz on BBL
Tuesday Primate behavior
-READ: Larsen, Ch. 7

-DO: Muddiest point on BBL

Thursday Primate behavior and -READ: Larsen, Ch. 7
-DO: Reading quiz on BBL
Tuesday In Class Film: The
New Chimpanzees
Thursday In Class Activity:
-DO: Video quiz on BBL AND
Debating Primate
review evidence for and
against culture in primates
Tuesday In class review for
-READ: Exam review on BBL
Exam 2
-DO: Prepare review
questions for class
-DO: Study for Exam 2
-DONT: Panic
Tuesday Fossils and
-READ: Larsen, Ch. 8 AND 9
-DO: Muddiest point on BBL
Thursday Primate origins and
-READ: Larsen, Ch. 9
-DO: Reading quiz on BBL
Tuesday Early hominins
-READ: Larsen, Ch. 10
-DO: Muddiest point on BBL
Thursday Early hominins, part
-READ: Larsen, Ch. 10
-DO: Reading quiz on BBL
Tuesday Early Homo
-READ: Larsen, Ch. 11
-DO: Muddiest point on BBL
Thursday Early Homo part 2;
-READ: Larsen, Ch. 11
In Class Activity:
-DO: Reading quiz on BBL
Becoming Human
Tuesday Dispersal of Homo
-READ: Larsen, Ch. 12
-DO: Muddiest point on BBL
Thursday Modern Homo sapiens -READ: Larsen, Ch. 12
-DO: Reading quiz on BBL
Tuesday The last 10,000 years -READ: Larsen, Ch. 13
-DO: Muddiest point on BBL
Thursday The last 10,000 years -READ: Larsen, Ch. 13
-DO: Reading quiz on BBL
Final Exam Period
Exam 3
-DO: Study for Exam 3 and
enjoy your summer vacation!