Fall 2020 - ARCH 131 D900

Human Origins (3)

Class Number: 4653

Delivery Method: Distance Education


  • Course Times + Location:


  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 9, 2020
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM

  • Instructor:

    Dennis Sandgathe
    1 778 782-4817



A non-technical survey of the primate background of humans, fossil primates, and fossil humans, and the associated evidence of cultural development. An introduction to physical anthropology. Breadth-Social Sci/Science.


We modern humans are the only surviving species in a very old evolutionary tree: a tree we share with the living apes and monkeys, but also with many extinct species. We can trace our ancestry, and the things that make us humans unique, millions of years into the past. Over this long period we evolved from small, furry apes living in the forests of Africa to large, hairless, big-brained, socially-complex humans that spread across the whole globe. Human Origins is designed to be an introduction to this human story. It includes 6 major sections:

  1. an introduction to the history of the science of human origins;
  2. a review of the fundamentals of natural selection and evolution;
  3. an introduction to our primate cousins: their characteristics and adaptations;
  4. an examination of the fossil record: from earliest primates to the emergence of modern-looking humans (along with a look at the earliest technologies);
  5. a closer look at when, where, and how we fully modern humans appeared
  6. and, a look at the variability among living humans and the concept of ‘race’ 


  • Midterm 45%
  • Final Exam 55%


This course will be delivered entirely online. Students will access the course materials (powerpoint lectures with audio, links to videos, questions and discussions with the instructor) via Canvas. Students will also take the two exams at home (on set days and times) via Canvas.



Available in electronic form: Stanford, Allen and Anton. 2016. Exploring Biological Anthropology: Premium Website with eText for SFU. Pearson Learning Solutions.
ISBN: 978-1-3236-3222-2

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need classroom or exam accommodations are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Students with Disabilities (1250 Maggie Benston Centre) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.

Deferred grades will be given only on the basis of authenticated medical disability.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).