Only occurs under precise set of conditions: Step One: Bones buried in sediment (sand, mud, silt, gravel) Step Two: Minerals from water & soils replace protein material in the bones & transform the bone into stone, preserving its form
Step One: Bones buried in sediment (sand, mud, silt, gravel)
Step Two: Minerals from water & soils replace protein material in the bones & transform the bone into stone, preserving its form
Step Three: Erosion, natural movement of land exposes fossils
Step Four: DiscoveryFossilization
What kind of bones are they? (Part of the skull or part of the post-cranial skeleton?)
Human or some other primate?
Male or female?
Age at time of death? (age of individual)
Age of bones themselves
Context in which bones were foundQuestions about Fossil Remains
First trait to have developed that distinguishes humans from other primates is BIPEDALISMHuman or non-human remains
Scientists look for specific clues in the skeleton which spine enters)
Focus is on pelvis & skullMALE OR FEMALE?
Male pelvis is narrower; illia are not as splayed; arch in front is V shaped
Female pelvis is wider, more robust, illia splay outward, arch in front U shapedDifferences in the pelvis
Male cranium is generally bigger Female cranium: front is V shaped
has a square chin; rounded chin;
less angle to jaw; sharper angle to jaw;
larger mastoid bone; smaller mastoid bone;
small bump at back; no bump at back;
more sloping forehead; more bulging forehead;
heavier browridges fainter browridgesDifferences in the skull
For example, the patterns of wear on the teeth suggest a diet of hard food items such as nuts, seeds and roots requiring lots of chewing and grinding