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IGNOU BANC 104 Solved Assignment 2022-23
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Submission Date :
- 31st March 2033 (if enrolled in the July 2033 Session)
- 30th Sept, 2033 (if enrolled in the January 2033 session).
There are three Sections in the Assignment. Answer all the questions in all the three sections.
Answer any two of the following questions in about 500 words each. Each question carries 20 marks in Assignment one.
Answer the following questions in the about 250 words. Each question carries 10 marks in Assignment three.
Answer any two of the following questions in about 500 words each. 20×2
a. Discuss fossils and their preservation.
Taphonomy is the branch of paleontology that focuses on the fossilization process. Fossils are preserved by three main methods: unaltered soft or hard parts, altered hard parts, and trace fossils. You already learned about trace fossils in Chapter 4.
Unaltered fossils are rare except as captured in amber, trapped in tar, dried out, or frozen as a preserved wooly mammoth. Amber is the fossilized tree resin that can trap flowers, worms, insects, and small amphibians and mammals. The father of one of the authors was part of a gold mining operation that discovered a wooly mammoth calf (nicknamed Effie) in Alaska. This was the first mummified mammoth remains found in North America. Even though it was buried about 21,300 years ago, it still consists of tissue and hair. Sometimes, only organic residue is left behind and is detected by molecular, biochemical techniques. Earth’s oldest fossils are only preserved as complex organic molecules.
Soft tissue is hard to preserve because it needs to be buried before bacterial decay can occur. This preservation occurs when remains are buried rapidly in an oxygen-free, low-energy sedimentary environment. Since these conditions are uncommon, the preservation of soft tissue rarely happens. Instead, typical examples of unaltered fossils are skeletal material that has been preserved with little or no change. Many marine invertebrate fossils and microfossils were preserved in this manner. However, paleontologists are now looking closer at fossils and recognizing thin carbon layers in the rock around fossils as soft tissue. Recently, a team led by Mark Norell, a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, identified a layer of carbon around dinosaur embryos formed over 200 million years ago that they think was a soft eggshell!
Unaltered fossils contain minerals that were biologically produced; these include apatite (in bones and teeth and rarely in exoskeletons, hardness = 5), calcite (calcium carbonate found in many organisms such as shells, hardness = 3, fizzes in acid), aragonite (similar to calcite, but an unstable polymorph) and opal (a type of silica found in marine animals and plants, hardness = 7). In addition, the hard parts (exoskeleton) of some insects and arthropods are made of chitin, a polysaccharide related to cellulose. If you can identify the minerals present in a fossil, you can distinguish if it is original material or altered.
Trace fossils, which we discussed in Chapter 4, are not really fossils but the evidence that organisms affected the sediment by burrowing, walking, or even leaving behind excrement or vomit. No kidding, there is fossil poop; this kind of trace fossil is called a “coprolite,” from the Greek word kopros, meaning dung. One last rare type of trace fossil is gastroliths, extremely smooth polished stones that aided digestion in dinosaurs and crocodilia. These are more highly polished than stream-worn gravels. Gastroliths found in Jurassic sediments in Wyoming may have been carried by sauropods over 1600 kilometers from their source in Wisconsin.
Handling of Fossils
Some fossils are incredibly fragile. Some delicate samples are prepared by air abrasion with talcum powder to remove the matrix. For some trilobite specimens, this takes thousands of hours to expose their delicate features. Some fossils you will use may be easy to replace and others impossible. Others may be part of a faculty member’s personal collection. Only handle the specimens that your instructor says you can. If you are taking this lab when teaching is face-to-face in a lab setting, you will handle both real and replica specimens of fossils. While these may have been around for millions or billions of years and seem like they are now rocks, they need to be treated with respect. Some of the fossils that you may handle may be the only specimen of their kind in the collection. Some of the larger specimens may be heavy, especially those that are molds filled with sediment. Never try to scratch the specimens for hardness. Also, never use acid as a mineral test. Finally, if you break or steal a specimen, you will be charged for its replacement.
You are free to make sketches or photograph the specimens. If you do this, you may want to put a scale in the image, such as a coin or ruler. This will help you remember the size of the object. Some specimens will have labels or numbers written on them, and others will not because they may be too fragile to even be written on. You must put each specimen back in its appropriate box or location in a lab tray. Also, do not move any of the paper labels from the boxes. This will prevent confusion for other lab students.
If you’ve wondered how to start your own fossil collection, you can either find them on your own or buy them. The price of fossils for sale ranges from cheap to outrageously expensive. For example, in 2020, an anonymous collector bought a fossil Tyrannosaurus rex, nicknamed Stan, for $31.85 million. This specimen only had 188 bones and was one of the most complete of its species. If this is beyond your budget, you can find inexpensive fossils such as fossilized snails from Morocco for only $0.30 each.
IGNOU BANC 104 Solved Assignment 2022-23
b. Discuss in brief Miocene hominoids.
The Miocene Epoch (23 million to 5.3 million years ago) is probably the most fruitful for paleoprimatology. During this time, dramatic changes in geomorphology, climate, and vegetation took place. The Miocene was a period of volcanism and mountain building, during which the topography of the modern world was becoming established. Of particular relevance to the story of primate evolution are the vegetational changes resulting from the formation of mountain ranges. Grasses, known only since the Paleogene Period (66 million to 23 million years ago), flourished in the new conditions and in many areas that had previously been forested. Grasslands are known regionally by such names as savanna, Llanos, and prairies. A new type of primate—the ground inhabitant—came into being during this period. The generalized nature of the bodily form of primates, combined with their specialized brain, made this critical step possible.
In the last few decades, considerable additions to the knowledge of ape and human evolution have accrued from Miocene fossil beds in East Africa and Europe. In East Africa, as long ago as the 1930s, the excavations of the inshore islands and Kenyan shores of Lake Victoria by Louis Leakey and a number of colleagues began to illuminate knowledge of human and ape evolution. Renewed excavations at these sites, 17 million to 19 million years old, and exploration of new sites (one of them as much as 24 million years old) in northern Kenya have modified the older conclusions. The genus Proconsul is known from a nearly complete skeleton and several other postcranial bones, a large number of jaw and facial fragments, and several partial skulls—only one of them complete, and it had been distorted by pressure of the surrounding rocks during fossilization. Subsequent reconstruction reveals a skull more monkeylike than apelike in its contours; this, along with the forelimb skeleton, which is known in great detail for this species, indicates a body form that most closely resembles that of living monkeys. Leakey concluded that Proconsul diverged from the modern ape/human lineage before any of the living members of this group began to diverge from each other, and this led him to classify it in a separate family, Proconsulidae. Since the 1980s a number of other genera (Limnopithecus, Dendropithecus, Afropithecus, Kamoypithecus, and others) have been added to the family. The location of the actual ancestors of living hominoids remained mysterious until previously known specimens from the Moroto District, in eastern Uganda, were reexamined and fresh material was discovered. In 1997 the description of a new genus and species, Morotopithecus bishopi, was announced, and this 20-million-year-old fossil is claimed to show the earliest traces of modern hominoid skeletal features. As, at the same time, traces of the earliest Old World monkeys are known, it appears that, while the Proconsulidae flourished with many genera and species, the hominoids (apes) and cercopithecoids (monkeys) were emerging and beginning to specialize. When, in the Middle Miocene, the proconsulids finally disappeared, it was the Old World monkeys that immediately diversified and took their place; the hominoids, until the rise of the human line, tended to remain mostly an inconspicuous group, remaining rather scarce in the fossil record. The separation of the gibbons (Hylobatidae) from the great ape/human stock (Hominidae) is at present not documented by fossils; indeed, whether there are any fossil gibbons known at all before the Pleistocene is still disputed.
In Europe, an archaic family, Pliopithecidae, was widespread. Remains of the best-known genus, Pliopithecus, from the Czech Republic have provided a remarkably complete picture of the habits of this group, which, on this evidence, appears to have possessed bodily forms of a tailed quadruped retaining numerous characteristics of New World monkeys. Long considered to be ancestral gibbons, the pliopithecids are now known to be far removed from gibbons, or indeed any other living primates. Their ancestors diverged from primitive catarrhines before even the Proconsulidae became separate. Alongside them in Spain, France, and Hungary occur remains of Dryopithecus, which are now classified in the Hominidae; they are close to living human/ape ancestry and show further advances over Morotopithecus in the development of the skeletal features characterizing modern hominoids.
In the Siwālik Hills of northern India and Pakistan, remains of several species of the Middle–Late Miocene Sivapithecus have been known since the 1870s. It was long suspected that this genus was related to the living orangutan, and this hypothesis was splendidly corroborated in the 1970s with the discovery of the first facial skeleton, which exquisitely combines primitive hominid features with derived orangutan-like states. If the orangutan lineage was now separate, it would be expected that ancestors of the human/gorilla/chimpanzee line would be found at contemporary sites farther west, and this turns out probably to be the case with the discoveries of two additional genera: the poorly known eight-million-year-old Samburupithecus, from northern Kenya, and the increasingly complete craniodental discoveries of Graecopithecus, from several sites of about the same age in Greece.
One of the most famous of the Late Miocene fossils was the “abominable coalman,” so called because the best-preserved remains, a complete skeleton, were found during the 1950s in a lignite mine in northern Italy. Oreopithecus possessed a number of dental and bony characters that are typically hominid. The canines were relatively short and stout; the face was abbreviated; and the pelvis was broad and even showed characteristics associated with bipedal walking, as did the vertebral column. The arms were long (the intermembral index being well above 100) and the fingers long and curved. The limb proportions are those of a brachiator. An early argument was that it was a special human ancestor; reanalysis suggested that it might be an Old World monkey that had developed brachiating features convergently with gibbons; new studies have placed Oreopithecus firmly in the Hominidae, but, within this family, its exact position is still unclear. The human line is not thought to have separated from that of the chimpanzee by this period, yet the Oreopithecus pelvis undeniably shows biomechanical stress patterns expected of a partial biped. That the end of the Oreopithecus story has not yet been heard is certain. A final twist is that the sites at which it is found seem to have formed an isolated swampy region, probably an island, on which the (somewhat impoverished) fauna had been evolving in isolation for some considerable time, perhaps even a million years or more.
The Pliocene Epoch (5.3 million to 2.6 million years ago) was very similar to the present in terms of its geomorphology and climate. Discounting the effects of recent human influence on the distribution of forest and savanna in the tropics, the face of the land cannot have differed much from today. Thus, one would expect that, during the Pliocene (given the effectiveness of environmental selection), essentially modern forms of primates would have made their appearance. Yet no fossils referable to modern ape lineages are known during the Pliocene, and monkey families are scarcely better known. Libypithecus and Dolichopithecus, both monkeys, were probably ancestral colobines, but neither genus can be placed in a precise ancestral relationship with modern members of this subfamily. What did characterize the Pliocene was the rise in Africa of the human line, with Ardipithecus ramidus at 4.4 million years ago in Ethiopia.
The Pleistocene Epoch (2.6 million to 11,700 years ago) is the epoch of hominin (protohuman) expansion. Knowledge of nonhuman primates, except for some selected Old World monkeys, is surprisingly sketchy. No ape fossils are known until relatively recent times, and monkeys have been identified in only a few regions in Africa and even fewer in Asia—e.g., Cercopithecoides, Paracolobus, and Rhinocolobus (members of the subfamily Colobinae) and Gorgopithecus and Dinopithecus (related to the living genus Papio), from South African deposits. Simopithecus, a giant ancestral forerunner, according to most authorities, of the present-day genus, Theropithecus (gelada), was unearthed from Olduvai Gorge and South Africa and was recently discovered also in India. It is possible that the Papio-Theropithecus divergence can be pushed well back into the Pliocene.
c. Describe the craniofacial features of Neanderthals.
Groups of H. heidelbergensis who left Africa became isolated from one another more than 300,000 years ago. One group that migrated into western Asia and Europe are now known as Neanderthals.Proto-Neanderthal traits are believed to have existed in Eurasia as early as 600,000-350,000 years ago, with the first “true Neanderthals” appearing between 200,000 and 250,000 years ago.
They were formidable, with brawny bodies built to conserve heat. They had comparatively short limbs, with a very distinctive craniofacial morphology relative to modern human populations: a large middle area of the face, and a big nose, which they needed for humidifying and warming the cold, dry air of the harsh, glacial conditions that existed then in Europe.
They were experienced hunters and foragers and knew how to develop weapons, such as stone-tipped thrusting spears. They also used wooden tools: two digging sticks 15 cm long have been found at Aranbaltza in the Basque Country coast of Northern Spain. These were made about 90,000 years ago from a yew trunk, cut longitudinally into two halves. One half was scraped with a stone-tool, then treated with fire to harden it and to facilitate scraping with a pointed tip. Analysis reveals that it was used for digging in search of food, flint, or simply to make holes in the ground.
Periods of favorable climate are thought to have drawn the Neanderthals down to the Levant.
About 100,000 years ago, at this southern edge of their European domain they met our ancestors, Homo sapiens, and prevented them from penetrating further into Europe, which Neanderthals had controlled for hundreds of millennia.
By the time the first H. sapiens arrived in Europe around 45,000 years ago, the Neanderthals had already established their own culture, Mousterian, which lasted some 200,000 years. Numerous flint tools, such as axes and spear points, have been associated with the Mousterian. These artifacts are typically found in rock shelters, such as the Riparo di Mezzena in Verona, Italy, and caves throughout Europe.
Most anthropologists now agree, based on evidence uncovered at 20 or so grave sites throughout Western Europe, that our closest evolutionary relatives intentionally buried their dead and cared for their sick and elderly at least some of the time. Evidence suggests that they decorated themselves with pigments and wore jewelry of shells and feathers. Most recently, a raven bone fragment found in Crimea appears to have been modified by Neanderthals intentionally to display a visually consistent pattern suggesting ornamental or symbolic use rather than mere butchery; and findings 336 meters deep in Bruniquel Cave indicate Neanderthals adequately mastered fire in order to construct an underground space which must have been for cultural or symbolic reasons, behaviors previously associated exclusively with modern humans.
Arriving H. sapiens found a landscape of forests and grasslands. Temperatures were cooler than they are today, and the northernmost regions were frigid, but overall the habitat was hospitable and game was plentiful. Around 40,000 years ago, temperatures fell, glaciers spread south, and the winter snow cover increased. The once-forested landscape became a cold, arid plain.
Both H. sapiens and H. neanderthalensis moved south, following mammoths, red deer, and other game, which were the staples of their meat-based diet.
Neanderthals were accustomed to hunting these large, dangerous animals from cover, dispatching them with hand-held weapons. This method of hunting was treacherous. The remains of almost every Neanderthal adult found so far show evidence of multiple broken bones and other serious injuries. They rarely lived beyond their 30s. Meanwhile, evidence indicates that their H. sapiens contemporaries, Cro-Magnons, initially weren’t doing any better.
But year by year, the territory of the modern humans expanded and that of the Neanderthals shrank. By 30,000 years ago, Neanderthals had disappeared from their last holdouts in the Iberian peninsula, from caves around Gibraltar, where they sought shelter from the worsening climate.
Both Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons could make fire, both made flaked stone tools, and both made clothing from fur and animal skins. These skills alone did not enable either to cope with the increasingly stressful environment, but the Cro-Magnons survived, and the Neanderthals did not.
Answer the following questions in about 250 words each. 10×2
a. Write short notes on the following
i. Potassium/Argon Dating Method
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IGNOU BANC 104 Solved Assignment 2022-23
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Answer any two of the following questions in about 150 words each. 5×2
i. Cultural behaviour of Archaic Homo sapiens
ii. Tool usage by the Australopithecus
iii. Morphological features of Homo erectus.
Answer the following questions in the about 250 words 10×3=30
a. Discuss Norma basalis
b. Define osteometry. Describe in brief Ulna.
c. Discuss in brief different measurements on humerus and femur.
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IGNOU BANC 104 Solved Assignment 2022-23
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