ANT203 September 13.pdf

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18 Mar 2012
Anthropology (anthropos + logos, "the study of man")
focus: cultural and biological evolution of our species and primate relatives;
observation of adaptations
Evolution is change over time. In the biological sense, it occurs at the genetic level, and
results in the formation of new species.
Adaptation refers to biological or behavioural responses of an organism or population to
the environment
key human adaptations include:
brain size in relation to body
language use / creation
level and complexity of tool use
the fossil record tells us where and when adaptations occured
The four-field approach provides a holistic and broad ranging perspective on
anthropology by creating categories of study which all describe an aspect of humanity
1. Socio-cultural Anthropology
patterns of belief and behaviour in human cultures (extant or non-extant)
2. Linguistic Anthropology
concerned with origins and evolution of language
speech and language distinguish humans from other primates/animals
3. Archaeological Anthropology
analysis of what past populations have left behind: material culture
artifacts: objects made or modified by humans
4. Physical/Biological Anthropology
a scientific discipline; asks what it means to be human through the study of
the biology and behaviour of humans, other primates, and fossil ancestors
Physical/Biological Anthropology
originated in the 18th Century (1700s)
strong religious beliefs stated that all variation came from creation
first fossils were being found in Europe, some human -> beginning of
Paleoanthropology is the study of the evolution of humans, including their biology and
behaviour, based on data from the fossil record (using essentially the same methods as
archaology). The field includes:
attempts to reconstruct anatomy
sense of form and function of bones (for knowledge about locomotion, diet)
reconstruction of past ecosystems
ultimate goal: to understand circumstances that led to the origins of modern humans
Primate Paleontology looks at the entire fossil record for the order primates, which
originated around 65 million years ago around the extinction of the dinosaurs
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