“To make the strange familiar, and the familiar strange ” Strangeness, the unfamiliar is scary and can lead to misguided feelings of anger and hate, which may eventually lead to warfare and death. – Most interpersonal or inter-group conflicts are caused by a lack of understanding. – Discovering similarities between one’s own culture and that of others leads to more harmonious relationships.
Anthropology The study of humanity – Greek: Anthropos (“Man”) logy (“study of”) Also, an integrated study of humanity – Holism: Integrating as many different aspects of human society (like psychology, politics, religion, customs, institutions like marriage, funerary rituals, gender, subsistence economy, etc.) to create the most complete picture possible. Goal of Anthropology? – Why do we study other people? What can be gained?
Anthropology’s Traditional Fields Physical (Biological) – This class! – Human Biology and Evolution Genetics, DNA studies, evolutionary theory, primate behavior, paleontology, fossil record. Archaeology – Physical and Cultural remains Linguistics – Origins and distribution of language Cultural – Social organization, economics, technology, political organization, marriage, family life. These 4 fields are rarely mutually exclusive & today’s anthropology scene is very fluid, often incorporating techniques from outside disciplines like psychology (study of the human psyche/mind) and sociology (study of human society).
Main goal of Physical Anthropology? Why is physical anthropology a scientific discipline, and what is its importance to the general public?
To understand why we are the way we are, we need to know… How evolution works in other primates How evolution works The history of the human lineage How natural selection shapes human minds, bodies, and behavior
Physical Anthropology Challenges Evolution – A change in the genetic structure of a population from one generation to the next. Adaptation – An anatomical, physiological, or behavioral response of organisms or populations to the environment. – Adaptations result from evolutionary change.
Evolution Microevolution – Small genetic changes that occur within a species. Macroevolution – Changes that occur only after many generations, such as the appearance of a new species (speciation).
Species A group of organisms that can interbreed to produce fertile offspring. Members of one species are reproductively isolated from members of all other species (that is, they can’t mate with them to produce fertile offspring).
Hominins A grouping of similar human-ish species that includes we Humans!…and extinct bipedal relatives Hominins are members of the evolutionary lineage that includes ourselves, modern Homo sapiens. (used to be called Hominids) – Reduced canine teeth – Non-prehensile big toes – Pelvis and legs reflect habitual bipedalism – Extreme brain enlargement and elaboration Habitually walking bipedally (on two feet) is a critical feature of the hominins.
Primates The only living Primate that is also a Hominin is…we Humans! Humans are members of the Order Primates, the group of mammals that includes apes, monkeys, tarsiers, lemurs and lorises. *Note: Physical Anthropologists who study the living non- human Primates are called Primatologists
Culture Culture is learned, and the process of learning one’s culture begins at birth. Some aspects of Culture: – technologies – subsistence patterns – housing types – clothing – religion – marriage and family – values – gender roles The human predisposition to assimilate culture and function within it is profoundly influenced by biological factors. Over time, culture and biology interacted in such a way that humans are said to be the result of biocultural evolution.
Biocultural Evolution The mutual, interactive evolution of human biology and culture. The concept that biology makes culture possible and that developing culture further influences the direction of biological evolution. Australopithecine skull Human skull Macroevolution example
Behavior Anything organisms do that involves action in response to internal or external stimuli. The response of an individual, group, or species to its environment. Responses may or may not be deliberate, and aren’t necessarily the result of conscious decision making.
Predisposition The capacity or inclination to do something. An organism’s capacity for behavioral or anatomical modification is related to the presence of preexisting traits. The Story…
Anthropometry Measurement of human body – Identifying human variation due to possible adaptive significance – Identify genetic and other evolutionary factors that produced variation
Osteology The study of the human skeleton Bioarchaeology – the study of skeletal remains from archaeological sites
Forensic Anthropology Application of anthropological techniques to legal issues Forensic anthropologists worked with identifying remains of victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.
Paleopathology The study of disease and trauma in archaeologically-derived skeletons Investigates the prevalence of trauma, certain infectious diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and conditions that may leave evidence in bone