Academic year
Subject Area
Área Científica do Menor
Language of Instruction
Mode of Delivery
ECTS Credits
1st Cycle Studies

Recommended Prerequisites

There are no recommended prerequesites.

Teaching Methods

Power point presentations are used in theoretical and practical classes.. Some of the theoretical classes include the critical analysis of documentaries on human evolution. In the practical classes the students have the opportunity to apply the acquired knowledge on human bones. We have at our disposal an excellent collection of endocasts of human fossils that is used as support both in theoretical and practical classes.

Learning Outcomes

This curricular unit aims to provide to students the knowledge on the natural history of man in order to be able to understand their evolutionary course, an essential tool to interpret the humans’ relation to environment in nowadays and in the future. 


Generic skills:

Analysis and synthesis;

Resolution of problems;

Use of the internet as a mean f communication and source of information;

Critic reasoning;

Independent learning;

Adaptability to different situations;

To have initiative;

Worries about quality;

Practical application of the theoretical knowledge;

Ability to do research.

Work Placement(s)



Paleoanthropology as a science Brief reference to systematic and taxonomy. The problematic of the Hominidae family. The divergence of the great apes: orang utan, gorilla and chimpanzee. Bipedalism, encephalization and language. Africa as the cradle of the humankind. The fossil environment of east, South and Central Africa. Anatomical and morphological traits of the first hominins. The Miocene and Pliocene fossils. The Australopithecus and the first Homo.The first exit of Africa. The first colonization of Europe. The human fossils from the Middle Pleistocene: the importance of Atapuerca. The Neanderthal. The origins of the modern humans. The colonization of the different continents.                    

Practical lessons: Notions of anatomy: the human skeleton; Sex diagnosis and age estimations of human remains; Morphological analysis: determination of robustness, stature and cranial capacity; Analysis of fossil endocasts; Synthesis work on human evolution and its oral presentation.

Head Lecturer(s)

Cláudia Isabel Soares Umbelino

Assessment Methods

Mini Tests: 5.0%
Synthesis work: 20.0%
Exam: 75.0%


Boyd, R.; Silk, J. 2011. How humans evolved. 6th Ed.. New York, W. W. Norton & Company.

Cunha, E. 2005. Dos primeiros habitantes ao homem moderno: breve viagem à nossa história natural. In: Carvalho, S. (Coord.). Exposição Habitantes e Habitats: Pré e Proto-História na Bacia do Lis. Leiria, Oficina de Arqueologia.

Cunha, E. 2010. Como nos tornámos humanos. Coimbra, Imprensa da UC.

Figueiredo, S.; Cardoso, H. 2010. A Aurora dos tempos modernos: do desaparecimento dos Dinossauros à génese do Homem. Lisboa, Edições Cosmos.

Jurmain, R. ; Kilgore, L.; Trevathan, W.; Ciochon, R. 2011. Intr. to Physical Anthropology. 13th Edition. Wadsworth, Cencage Learning.

Larsen, C. 2011. Our Origins: discovering Physical Anthropology. 2nd Edition. New York, W. W. Norton & Company.

Lewin, R.; Foley, R. 2004. Principles of Human Evolution. 2nd Edition. Malden, Blackwell Publishing.

Santos, A. L.  1996. Questões sobre a ancestralidade humana: o género Australopithecus e formas afins. Ethnologia, 5: 29-56.