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1. What does it mean to be human from the perspective of paleoanthropology? What traits do paleoanthropologists look to in order to identify whether a specimen is an ape or a hominin?
2. What are some of the similarities between the different species of hominins (modern and extinct humans) and apes?
3. What trends have paleoanthropologists identified in our hominin ancestors in terms of skeletal and skull features and in terms of behavior? In other words, how did these species change over time and what types of culture and skills did they have?
4. How did biology and environment interact to promote change?
5. What is the evidence paleoanthropologists look to in order to reconstruct the lives and stories of our extinct hominin ancestors?
6. What are the most important features paleoanthropologists use to decide whether a species should be included in the genus Homo?

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1. What does it mean to be human from the perspective of paleoanthropology? What traits do paleoanthropologists look to in order to identify whether a specimen is an ape or a hominin?
There are morphological and concomitant behavioral characteristics which are distinctive of hominins in relation to apes; these include the speech and language of living humans, essential dependence on complex material culture, and advanced cognition (Larsen, 2013, p. 247). However, because these characteristics evolved long after the inception of hominins, these merely distinctive characteristics are not considered definitional of hominins. Instead, “two obligate behaviors” (p. 247), which long preceded speech and material culture, are considered definitional: bipedal locomotion and nonhoning chewing, where each behavior entails physical characteristics which made the behaviors possible....

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