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Lecture 2

ANTHROP 1AA3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Osteology, Primatology, Bipedalism

Course Code
Tracy Prowse

of 5
Anthropology 1AA3 Week1 02/14/2013
Sex, Food and Death – Dr.Prowse
Office – Chester New Hall, 514
Tuesdays 12:00-2:00pm
4 Subfields of Anthropology
Physical Anthropology
Osteology (osteo=bones, ology=study)
Study of the structure and function of the human skeleton
Central to physical anthropology
Changes in fossils
How we lived in the past
Adaptations in living populations
Example-how do we know if an organism is bipedal (walks on two feet)?
Number of areas on the skeleton
Hole right underneath the skull in humans vs. apes with the hole farther at the back
Humans have more of an upright posture and wider/broad pelvis vs. ape narrow tall pelvis
Human legs a little bit knock kneed vs. apes with straight legs
Study of the human fossil record
When and where do we see the first evidence for humans?
What are human characteristics
The study of fossil animals and plants
Study of nonhuman primates
Social behavior, communication, infant care, reproduction
Understand natural forces that have shaped human evolution & aspects of human behavior
Human Biology
Human growth & development
Adaptation to environmental extremes
Hot climates  lean, tall structure
Cold climates  broader, shorter structure
Human variation in modern populations
Forensic Anthropology
Anthropology & the law
Human remains recovered with some kind of legal context
Applied – accidental death, crime scene investigation, human rights investigations
Situations where there have been mass casualties (i.e. genocides)
Example – Mass grave in Peru
A 5th subfield of Anthropology?
Applied Anthropology
The use of data gathered from the other subfields of anthropology in an effort to offer practical
solutions to problems within modern societies
Text p.7
Example – Immigrant Health Concerns
Understanding the social, cultural, political and economic situation of immigrants can help health
care practitioners better meet their health care needs
What are some barriers for immigrants coming to Canada?
How to break down these barriers
How Do Anthropologists (& others) Do Research?
What is the Scientific Method?
Systematic observations of the world
A way of knowing the world around us through observation
Results in an ever-expanding knowledge base
Empirical, or based on observation
Text p.12
Inductive method (bottom up approach)
Observation  Pattern  Tentative Hypothesis  Theory
Deductive method (top down approach)
Theory  Hypothesis  Observation  Confirmation/Refute
What is a Theory?
Explains observations and unifies seemingly distinct phenomena
E.g., Sir Isaac Newton’s Theory of Gravity
Gravity – the fundamental force controlling the path of a falling apple & the orbit of a planet
A statement (formula) that expresses a relationship
Describes how and why things happen
Developed through the scientific method
Explains how things work it simplifies and clarifies
Hypotheses repeatedly verified eventually become theories
Theories can be modified by new evidence (data) – testable and correctable
Definition – a set of hypothesis that have been rigorously tested and validated
Becomes a generally accepted explanation of specific phenomena
Theory in Cultural Anthropology
Framework for understanding observations, idea, patterns, etc.
Examples – functionalism – understanding aspects of society in relation to the whole (viewed as
an organism)