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In Search of Human Origins, Part III

Viewing Ideas

Before Watching

  1. Write the word Neanderthal on the board and ask students to brainstorm a list of words that describe Neanderthals. How did they develop these images of Neanderthals? What evidence exists to support these descriptions? Point out that the Neanderthals existed for more than 200,000 years, while modern humans have only existed for the last 50,000 years. What does this say about the Neanderthals' ability to survive? What do students know about the changes in Earth's climate that occurred during the last 300,000 years? While watching this episode of NOVA, ask the class to look for clues about life during the Neanderthal period and how the species managed to survive for such a long time.

  2. Early in the series, Johanson explains that a change in the environment prompts a change in an organism's physiology and/or behavior. Ask students to give an example of how we respond to changes in our environment. In what ways do you think our responses differ from those of early humans?

After Watching

  1. Many Native American groups are attempting to block excavation of early burial sites and to force museums to give them the remains of Native Americans. Imagine that a local museum is planning to exhibit the bones of early colonists, including the remains of an ancestor of someone in your class. Have volunteers role-play an interaction between the great-grandchild and the museum director.

  2. Federal law dictates that no public works project can begin excavation without an archeologist on site. Contact your state archeologist's office to find out if students can visit the next dig or view the fossils and artifacts from previous excavations.

Teacher's Guide
In Search of Human Origins, Part III

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