Back-to-School: Human Prehistory 101 Test Results

Correction: Ouch! We mistakenly listed the wrong answer to the last question in the quiz. It has been corrected. Populations are more similar now than they were 500 years ago due to migration and intermixing. The correction did not change the results for the winner.

Okay students, pencils down!

Last Friday we posted the first of a three-part series of educational courses in celebration of the Back-to-School season (see above). The entries are now in. You can see how you did by comparing with correct answers below. Also, a special congratulations goes out to James Gamble for being selected among all the entries. For the rest of you, you’ll have more chances to win an Amazon gift card as we post the remaining two quizzes in our series. For those who love learning for the sake of learning, the course is still available here.

Prologue
Question: When do scientists think the last common ancestor between the human and the chimpanzee lived?
Correct Answer: 6.5 million years ago
Despite any suspicions fostered by your last family reunion, scientists think that the last common ancestor between you and the chimp lived 6.5 million years ago.

Part 1: Out of (Eastern) Africa
Question: The first humans reached Europe and Australia at approximately the same time.
Correct Answer: True
Around 45,000 years ago, humans, who had originated in Africa, were venturing into both Europe and Australia. Although the trip to Australia was longer, in some ways it was easier. The traveling to Australia meant coastal beaches and warm weather, whereas traveling to Europe meant harsh terrain and cold climates. Thus, our ancestors migrated along these two paths — paths of very different lengths — in approximately the same amount of time.

Part 2: Weathering the Storm
Question: How much cooler (on average) was it during the ice age?
Correct Answer: 15° F
During the ice age, the thermometer (had thermometers been invented) would have stayed 15 F lower than it reads today. These cold temperatures meant that mile-thick glaciers covered much of Europe, North America, and Asia.

Part 3: Agriculture Rocks Our World
Question: Which was not one of the principal food stables of Papua New Guinea?
Correct Answer: guinea pigs
Despite their name, guinea pigs were eaten in South America, not Papua New Guinea.

Epilogue
Question: True or False: Ethnic groups are more distinct from each other than they were 500 years ago?
Correct Answer: False
Due to modern travel, more individuals are coming into contact with (and having children with) partners with ancestry different than their own.