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Lecture 1 - Biological Anthropology and Evolution

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Esteban Parra

Biological Anthropology and Evolution So, What is Science?  Characteristics of science o Based on Facts (observations)  Verifiable truth  Understand facts based on hypothese o Understood through Hypotheses  Explanations of observed facts o Which must be Testable  A potential must expect for a hypotheses to be rejected or accepted o Explained with Theories  If the hypotheses has been tested a number of times and haven’t been rejected, it is then a theory  Science is a critical effort to understand Quote From a Great Critical Thinker  “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” o Sherlock Holmes What is Anthropology?  “The science of human cultural and biological variation and evolution.” o Joint emphasis on biology and culture  Biology and Culture o Biocultural Approach  Always a biocultural approach  Looks at the biological and cultural influence, and how they influence each other o Holistic  Consider all other aspect of human existence o Natural and Social Science  Equal importance for biology and culture Subfields of Anthropology  Cultural Anthropology o Social, political, economic, ideological (holistic approach) o Study cultural behavior of present and recent past of human populations o Marriage systems, religious beliefs etc.  Archaeology o Prehistoric cultural behavior o Studies cultural behavior of historic and prehistoric populations o Uses artifacts and cultural remains (help reconstruct cultural values as a whole)  Linguistics o Language o Involves the study of language and the relationship between language and culture  Biological Anthropology o Physical anthropology (known in the 20 century)  with the event of molecular techniques, it re-coined to be known as biological anthro o Biological evolution and variation o Present and past human populations o Is an evolutionary science What is Evolution?  Evolution is change in living organisms through time.  Evolution is a central unifying theme in biology.  Evolution is a lens through which we can observe many aspects of our species. Pre-Darwinian Thought  Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778) o First person to provide a formal classification of all organisms into meaningful groups – taxonomy o Based on Genus, species classification  Species – group of populations that can interbreed  Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) o Catastrophism o Was analyzing fossil remains o Main idea: not all individuals survived, many died and some survived and reproduced  Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829) o Inheritance of acquired traits o Any characteristics that was acquired due to environmental pressure or change, was later inherited o Explained this through the long and short necks of giraffes Malthus’ Work  “An essay on the principle of population” 1798 o Food is necessary for human existence o Human populations can grow geometrically while resources grow additively o Since humans don’t voluntarily choose to not reproduce, famines, disease, poverty, and war result  This writing influenced both Darwin and Wallace Evolutionary Theory  Charles Darwin (1809-1882) o Variation in traits and environments o Differential survival and reproduction o Evolutio
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