How far has genetics revolutionised out understanding of human evolution?


This is a 30 mark question which has 5 marks for skills and methods and 25 marks for knowledge and understanding.

It must be a critical essay which shows:

  • a clear grasp of relevant key material
  • use the evidence which is taken from key case studies or scientific knowledge
  • must be analytical and critical
  • must draw out the strengths and weaknesses of a position as well as understand the limitations of evidence.



Key themes to try and include in your essay: ‘Out of Africa’. Mitochondrial DNA, African Eve, Neanderthal DNA, Work of Chris Stringer, Work of Stoneking et al, Fossil remains, General theories of human evolution and how it evolved.


Introduction part 1: (1-2 sentences): what is human evolution and why is it some important?

Introduction part 2: what areas are you intending to cover to answer the question?

suggestions to include:

  1. out of Africa hypothesis including theory and early genetic development
  2. Use of fossils for initial genetics
  3. MtDNA and African Eve hypothesis
  4. Y Chromosome ideas
  5. Neanderthal DNA


You may want to include that you intend to answer the question as to why fossil are not the most effective way to understand human evolution or whether genetic analysis may still be too flawed to be of any more use than fossil analysis for understanding the human evolutionary process.


Paragraph 1 (AO1): What were the original methods of analysing human evolution?

Discuss the ideas of fossil analysis and the different methods that were used-what were the limitations of these methods when trying to show human evolution? Give a case study in depth or two smaller case studies to back up your point.


Paragraph 2/ 3 (A02): What is the ‘Out of Africa’ hypothesis and how does it link, if at all to genetics? What does it tell us about human evolution?

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