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ANT - L02 [Sept 23 2010]

Course Code
Christopher Watts

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What is Evolutionary Anthropology?
x Application of modern evolutionary theory to studies of the morphology, ecology,
and behaviour of human and non human primates
x What defines us as species and how does this relate to all aspects of evolution??
5 Research Disciplines
x Primatology
o Scientific study of non human primates
o Primate anatomy, field studies of wild animals, primate psychology
o Primatologists seek to conserve primates in vanishing tropical ecosystems
x Paleoanthropology
o Multidisciplinary study of:
o Biological evolution of humans and non human primates
o Advent of and changes in human and cultural activities
o Evolutionary history of behaviour in human and non human primates
x Human Variation
o Spatial and temporal variations in human features
o For example, geographic and climatic variations in body size, skin colour,
and eye colour
o Some related to climate, some related to geography
x Medical Anthro
o How social, environment, and biological factors influence health and
illness of individuals at the community, regional, national, and global
o How does this work at each level?
x Forensic Anthropology
o Skeletal, dental
o Focuses only on skeletal remains of humans
o Forensic anthropologists seek to determine the age, sex, stature, ancestry,
and any trauma or disease of the deceased
Major Questions about Humans and our Biology
x How does evolution work and how does it apply to us
o It is effecting everybody, right here and now
o Everything surrounding us has
o Short-term/long-term
o We are adapting from one generation to next
x What are biological characteristics of our species?
x What is physical record of through time?
The Scientific Method
The basic steps in the scientific method are:
1. State the problem
2. Gather the info
3. Form a hypothesis
4. Test the hypothesis
5. Record and analyze data
6. State the conclusion
7. Repeat
All scientific experiments need to be repeated to ensure accurate results.
Work of Early Naturalists
x Carolus Linnaeus (Karl von Linne, 1707-1778)
o 1st comprehensive classification system for living things
o Each living thing named separate species
o On basis of physical resemblances, species grouped ionto broader
categories callened genera (singular genus)
o He was a botanist that realized that nothing was named
o Binomial Nomenclature
First letter of genus is capitalized, like so: Homo
Species designations always lower case, like so: sapiens
Off-set text: underline if hand-writing, otherwise italisize
x Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707-1788)
o (DUWK¶VKLVWRU\!\HDUVFD\HDUV
He thought the Earth was around 75000 years old
Major issue with contemporary religious authorities
o Founded biogeography: despite similar environments, different regions
have distinct plants and animals
o Predicted that the Earth was older than 6000 years which defied religious
x Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829)
o Inheritance of Acquired Characteristics
Ie. If an animal is starving and needs to reach a higher tree to get
food to survive then it would develop the ability to reach that tree
and that ability would be passed on from generation to generation
Revolutionary concept
o Acquired traits: developed through use or disuse, passed on to future
o Among first to formulate method for origination of new species through
x Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
o Naturalist on HMS Beagle, scientific expedition to Pacific coast of S.
There is so much diversity
He saw diversity in things that are extinct (fossils)
He concluded that things must have been more diverse in the past
He came to realize that contrary to the Church, there was no such
thing as fixity of species (animals unchanged since beginning of
o Observed incredible variety of living and especially fossilized creatures
o Conclusion: NO fixity of species and notion on short, catastrophic
geological history for earth must be incorrect
Variation Important in Evolution
x Physical variety in any population of organisms
x If variety provides advantage to certain individuals, then they may produce more
o Advantages may result in better offspring survival
x These offspring inherit beneficial variation, so they produce more offspring;
variation norm of population
x Population may change, perhaps completely new & different species
If enough changes happen maybe one species will become two. But how could that
How does Adaptive Change occur?
x Key came from Essay on the Principle of Populations (1799) by economist
Thomas Malthus (1766-1834)
o Many more organisms are born than can possibly survive.
o Population growth = exponential
o Food growth = linear
x Darwin: individuals in a species adapt to environments & long-term adaption
means evolutionary shift in entire population in response to environmental
o Maybe a population would change in some way in order to adapt to the
environment whether the outcome was good or bad.
Very radical idea; scared to tell others his ideas
Theory on Natural Selection
x Every living thing in the past MUST share some common ancestry
x All extant and extinct species share common ancestry
x Species evolve by natural selection
o Ie. Dog breeding is forced natural selection
x Natural Selection: A process in nature resulting in survival and perpetuation of
only those forms of life having certain favourable characteristics that enable them
to adapt best to their environment.
Alfred Russell Wallace (1823-1913)