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Lecture 5

ANP202 Lecture 5-1

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ANP 201
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Lecture 5-1 Human Variation: Life History, Plasticity & Adaptations Ch. 5 Big Questions 1. Is race a valid, biologically meaningful concept? 2. What do growth & development tell us about human variation? What are the benefits of our life history pattern? 3. How do people adapt to environmental extremes and other circumstances? 1. Is race a valid, biologically meaningful concept? *No. Rather, it is a socially defined concept *It is the culturally prescribed categorization of people *Race is NOT a biologically meaningful categorization of people *Richard Lewontin (1972) showed that humans vary more within-group than between groups *Ehrlich & Holm (1964) demonstrated so-called racial traits vary discordantly The Concept of Race in Western Science *In the 18th century, Linnaeus classified human races *In 1885, Blumenbach suggested five races as mutually exclusive distinct groups, based on skull shapes -Mongoloids, Malays, Ethiopians (Africans), American Indians, Caucasoids *Yet no study conducted in a satisfactory scientific manner since 20th century support the notion of exclusiveness or distinctness of these or other racial groups (e.g. Lewontin) Human Biological Diversity *How do humans vary? *Why do humans vary? *Levels of comparison -Individual -Group -Population Causes of Human Variation *Variation exists often because it is adaptive *Human biological variation can be traced back to the environments in which people live,or environments in which people’s ancestors lived *Biological traits tend to follow a geographical gradient or cline, usually associated with environmental or geographic transition *Cline: a gradual change in some phenotypic characteristic from one population to the next 2. What do growth & development tell us about human variation? What are the benefits of our life history pattern? General Patterns of Human Life History *Three life history stages: 1. Prenatal 2. Postnatal 3. Adult *Each stage includes periods with a series of biological changes *Both genetic and environmental factors influence human life history patterns *Stressors: factors that can cause stress in an organism, potentially affecting the body’s proper functioning and its homeostasis *Phenotype of an organism can respond to environmental influences (stressors). This responsiveness is referred to as phenotypic plasticity (malleability, flexibility, adaptability) -Plasticity is an important contributor to human variation -During the early life (prenatal-infancy-childhood) human biology is highly plastic Prenatal Stage *Involves rapid intrauterine growth and development. Includes 3 trimesters 1. From the egg to embryo- organ development 2. Growth in length 2. Organ development and weight gain *Sensitive to environmental stressors *Prenatal stressors can influence the health/diseases of the individual later in life Postnatal Stage *Six periods with different growth velocities 1. Neonatal 2. Infancy 3. Childhood 4. Juvenile 5. Puberty 6. Adolescence *Development of brain, dentition, motor skills, cognitive skills, sexual dimorphism, skeletal structure, and lungs *Environmental influences important in these stages, especially in neonatal and infancy periods *Neonates 1mo. *Infancy 2-36mos. -Most rapid growth -Deciduous dentition erupts- by weaning time ~20 teeth -Immature digestive & immune system dependent on mother’s milk for nutrients and immune protection, then weaning food -Motor skills and cognitive abilities develop *Childhood 3-7yrs -Rapid growth in brain- learning -Normal food consumption -At about 6yrs permanent teeth replace deciduous teeth *Juvenile 7-10/12yrs -Formal and social learning with the full-size brain -The period of slow growth *Adolescence (years b/w puberty and adulthood)
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