Establish Prior Knowledge
Have students think about and respond to this question: What can fossil remains tell us about what ancient humans were like and how they lived? Discuss students’ responses. Tell students that hundreds of homonid fossils have been found in caves near Atapuerca Spain. Scientists estimate the fossils to be about 500,000 years old. Tell students that in the snapshot they are about to see, scientists investigate whether the pre-humans that once lived in the caves could have heard human speech.
Have students read the synopsis and view the snapshot. Use the following questions to guide a class discussion.
1. How are scientists determining the capacity of these early humans to hear sounds?
2. What did the findings suggest about the groups ability to speak and understand human speech?
3. What does this finding tell us about when the ability to hear human speech evolved?
4. What does the team hope to learn by studying the ear bones of older, extinct relatives?
Students who want to learn more about these ancient humans can visit these sites: