Undergraduate Courses

at the University of Toronto (St. George campus)

The following are courses taught by Dr. Begun, with a short description succeeding. For more information, click on the course number to see a syllabus from a previous year.

» ANT335Y
Human Evolution

Ever wonder where you came from, in essence, how to make a human? This course will take you on a wide-ranging survey of the fossil evidence of human evolution from our ape ancestors through to the appearance of modern humans. The only way to understand the many facets of human uniqueness is to study the fossil apes and humans that came before us. In this course we will learn how paleoanthropologists reconstruct the events of our past, like forensic scientists reconstruct the scene of a crime. First, we will learn how to identify bones and how to distinguish among the different kinds of living apes, including humans (yes, we are apes!)Then we will explore the fossil evidence through hands-on use of our collection of primate skeletons and fossil ape and human casts, one of the most extensive in the world. As we travel through time, we will explore the origins of the apes and then reconstruct the major events of human evolution. How and why did we begin to walk on two legs? Why does it take us so long to grow up? Why do we have long legs and short arms, stand straight up and are so good with our hands? Why are our brains so ridiculously large? Can we say what is in store for us in our evolutionary future? The course is divided into lectures and labs. The lectures provide background information, context, and guidance for the labs. In the labs students will have a great deal of hands-on exposure to fossil casts and the opportunity to observe the features on casts that are described in the lectures and readings. You will also become a paleoanthropologist for a semester, with a mystery fossil that you will have to describe and analyse.
» ANT431H
The Real Planet of the Apes
Through fossil labs and lectures, we look back over 30 to 5 million years ago when apes roamed from Spain to China and Germany to Southern Africa. The fossil record of these apes, our ancestors, reveals how we evolved our large brains, dexterous hands, extended growth period and incredible intelligence. We encounter many surprises along the way, such as apes living with pandas in Hungary, animals with a mix of monkey, ape and pig traits and apes the size of polar bears. Of the more than 100 species of fossil apes known, only one gave rise to us.
» ANT330Y
Paleoanthropology Field School
This course provides background in the practical and theoretical aspects of fieldwork in Paleoanthropology. Students are trained in the treatment and analysis of fossil vertebrates, plant macro- and micro-fossils and sediments. Excursions to paleoanthropological localities of Homo erectus and Homo sapiens, and excavation at a hominoid site. (Joint undergraduate-graduate)

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dept of anthropology