Human Origins and Evolution

The Venus of Willendorf.

The Venus of Willendorf, carved between 24,000 and 22,000 BC. (Photograph courtesy of Mary Harrsch. Used with permission.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Spring 2006



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Course Features

Course Description

This course examines the dynamic interrelations among physical and behavioral traits of humans, environment, and culture to provide an integrated framework for studying human biological evolution and modern diversity. Topics include issues in morphological evolution and adaptation; fossil and cultural evidence for human evolution from earliest times through the Pleistocene; evolution of tool use and social behavior; modern human variation and concepts of race. The class also studies stone artifacts and fossil specimens.

Harry Merrick. 3.987 Human Origins and Evolution, Spring 2006. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

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