Physical Anthropology / The multiple fields:
Osteology (Osteo = bone, ology = study of)
- Study of the structure and function of the human skeleton
- This is the foundation for the basis of understanding fossils
Central to physical anthropology
Changes in fossils
How we lived in the past
Adaptation in living populations
o Example: How do we know if an organism is bipedal (walks on two feet)?
o Different areas on the skeleton can determine this
Eg. Humans have a hole on the bottom of our skulls where our spinal columns go up our
brains > great apes have this hole at the back of the skull
Humans have a double S shaped curved spine > great apes have a variation
Humans have an open, broad pelvis (we have a broad centre of balance to walk bipedal
because of our pelvis) > apes have a narrow and tall pelvis
Humans are knock-kneed > great apes have straight legs
Paleontology – study of fossil animals and plants
- Study of the human fossil record
- When and where do we see the first evidence for humans?
- What are human characteristics?
o What makes a specific fossil, human?
o This is an ongoing debate
- Focused at looking at non-human primates
o Non-human is because we are primates as well, we are just a specialized species
- Social behaviour, communication, infant care, reproduction
- Understand natural forces that have shaped human evolution and aspects of human behaviour (=context)
- Human growth and development
o Studying differences in populations and explaining variations in biology
- Adaptation to environmental extremes
- Human variation in modern populations (some biological, maybe cultural) January 10/2012
- Application + understanding of anthropology in a legal context
- When human remains are actually recove