The research agenda of paleoanthropology involves many topics and methodologies. Fossil specimens are allocated to species, and those species are assigned to the hominin clade. After that we want to know how they are related to each other, what they ate, how much they weighed, how smart they were, etc. We also want to know about the origin of particular attributes of hominins, such as our delayed growth and development, bipedalism, and language. The data available to answer these complex questions are confounded by fragmentary fossil specimens, small sample sizes, limited opportunities for controlled experimentation, and the inherent limitations of historical data. Also, because many traits are effectively unique to hominins, even observational comparative studies are inevitably limited in what they can tell us, if not impossible to conduct. We explore how these limitations should, but often do not, constrain the questions that paleoanthropologists should attempt to answer.