Chapter Learning Objectives

Fossils: Memories of the Biological Past

  • Explain how and under what conditions fossils are created.
  • Be aware of the limitations of the fossil record and how those limitations affect our understanding of human evolution.

Just How Old Is the Past?

  • Define “eon,” “era,” “period,” and “epoch.” Know modern humans’ place in geologic time.
  • Compare relative age and relative dating methods with numerical age and absolute dating methods.
  • List examples of relative methods of dating.
  • List examples of absolute methods of dating and understand the date range that each method can measure.
  • Define the “molecular clock” and understand its importance for human evolution.

Reconstruction of Ancient Environments and Landscapes

  • Explain why temperature is the most important feature of climate and understand how to measure temperature in the past.
  • Explain how carbon isotopes can tell us about not just how long ago an organism lived but also what it ate.