Anthropology 209 Study Notes
Lecture One - Introduction
Anthropologists work from a holistic perspective.
Biological anthropology uses a biocultural approach, which looks at adaptation and variation.
Primatology studies non-human primates.
Paleoanthropology studies our fossil ancestors.
Primate paleontology studies the fossil ancestors of non-human primates.
Humans adapt both physically and culturally to our environment.
Analogy - used to reconstruct aspects of biology, appearance & behavior of past organisms. We use our
observations of modern organisms to make inferences about the past
Variation – it is important in understanding current adaptations, evolutionary history, and in reconstructing
Lecture Two – Origins of Evolutionary Theory
Fixity of species – the idea that the world is unchanging. The concept of “fixity of species” is prevalent. God
creates all life; therefore, it is perfect.
Great Chain of Being – organisms are ranked from simple to complex. Predictably, humans were placed at the
top underneath God and Angels. This system had the inadvertent effect of ranking according to worth.
The renaissance showed a marked shift from valuing faith/tradition to valuing observations. Roman
naturalists, with growing interest in observing the natural world promoted the break down of the
John Ray – concept of genus and species.
Linnaeus – developed the modern system of taxonomy. He used physical similarity. He was the first to put
humans with non-human primates (put in the same order).
Both Ray and Linnaeus believed that organisms were static.
James Hutton showed that landforms such as mountains and rivers had changed over time.
Robert Hooke – looked at fossils and provided evidence that the natural world had changed over time
o Some people argued that fossils were miracles.
o Organizing psychic energy caused growth. This energy has occurred in stone.
Catastrophism – the idea that periodic catastrophes caused drastic changes to landforms. The model is
compatible with the fixity of species model. Georges Cuvier supported it. This model was highly compatible
with religion and science, so it was advocated for.
Uniformitarianism – the idea that processes still seen today develop all landforms. This is incompatible with
the idea that the world is young. Proponents tried to reconcile this theory with the Bible.
Buffon suggested that each region has a typical influence on the organisms living on it.
Lamarck – presented the idea that animals change over their lifetimes to adapt to demands of their particular
environment. These changes are passed to their offspring. Thus, he presents the idea of adaptation.
Darwin and Wallace propose the theory of natural selection
o Malthus – resources place a limit on population growth
Individuals with traits best suited to habitat compete most successfully.
Macroevolution – new species
Fitness – reproductive success
Selection requires variation
Selection operates on individuals and evolution occurs in populations.
1 Lecture Three – Basic Mendelian Genetics
Blended Inheritance – mixing of phenotypes
Mendel – challenged blended inheritance model using controlled breeding experiments.
o Traits are controlled by discrete ‘factors’ in the plant.
o Plant carries two factors for each trait
o First Law – Law of Segregation
o Second Law – Law of Independent Assortment
o Transmit genetic information during reproduction
o Template for protein synthesis
o Code is formed from series of nucleotides
Mitosis – chromosomes are duplicated and cell divides
Meiosis – chromosomes are duplicated, crossover occurs, and cell divides twice to yield four cells. New cells
are not identical.
Short Tandem Repeats are used to determine paternity, as well as within bioarchaeology. Each person has
their own unique combination of STR and is inherited from both parents.
Mitochondria have their own DNA and are only inherited from their mother. Modern mitochondrial DNA
suggest a common ancestor around 200 000 years ago.
Lecture Four – Mendelian Genetics
The modern explanation of Mendel’s model:
o Genes are DNA sequences that code for a protein or polypeptide.
o Each gene occupies a locus on a chromosome.
o Alleles are difference DNA sequences at the same locus.
o These can code for different products, producing difference traits.
o Chromosomes are paired
o Genes are passed on as intact units
Albinism – most common type caused by mutation in gene coding for protein involved in melanin.
Mendelian / Discrete traits – traits determined at a single locus.
ABO blood system has more than two alleles of a gene at a single locus.
Sex linked genes
Polygenic traits are controlled by more than two genes, so there are many possible combinations
o Example: human stature, hair, and skin colour.
Melanocortin gene contributes to red hair. It is possible Neanderthals were redheads.
Lecture Five – Genetics and Evolution
Mutations occur constantly. If the mutation occurs in somatic cells, then there is no effect on the gene pool. If
it occurs in gametes, then new alleles are created.
Modern Synthesis of Evolution – evolution is defined as changes in the frequency of alleles between
generations. As long as frequency is changing, then evolution is occurring.
Biological Species Concept –a species is a group of interbreeding organisms that is reproductively isolated.
Species are divided into breeding populations.
Human populations are/were divided by:
o Geographical barriers – ex. Easter Island.
o Customs and Attitudes – ex. Particular faiths.
Gene flow – movement of genes into a population.
Genetic Drift – all allele becomes more or less common due to chance. It includes both the founder effect and
bottleneck effect. Genetic drift does not occur if the frequency of allele is changed due to selective value.
Cultural responses buffer natural selection in humans
As complexity increases, learning limits the degree with which genes influence behavior.
2 Lecture Six – Evolution, Adaptation and Acclimatization in Modern Humans
Humans are evolving because of allele frequency changes.
Culture as extrasomatic means of adaptation.
Sickle-Cell Anemia – complex malaria life cycle is disrupted when in the human blood stream.
o Illustrates biocultural nature of human evolution.
o Balanced polymorphism – heterozygotes have the advantage and both alleles are maintained in the
o Cultural buffering was not effective because people didn’t know that mosquitos were involved.
Skin colour – correlation between proximity to equator and darker skin. Correlation is weaker in New World,
where population has spent less time in the area.
o High UV results in cancer, folate loss, and sunburn.
Acclimatization – short-term physical changes in an individual that reduces the impact of environmental
stress. Example: altitude results in more RBC production.
Adaptability – the ability of the body to make long-term changes during growth. Example: high altitude
children have larger lung volume. These changes are not reversible, because they occur during growth.
Acclimatization and Adaptability do not change the population’s allele frequencies, but they are the result of
past natural selection favoring this plasticity.
Lecture Seven – Taxonomy; Reconstructing Fossil Species
Homology – sharing of physical traits due to ancestry.
Analogy – sharing of physical traits due to common adaptation.
Derived traits are changed from an ancestral condition.
Ancestral traits are unchanged from ancestral condition; they’re inherited from ancestor.
Clade – group of species sharing a common ancestor. Small clades can be grouped into wider clades.
Ancestral traits do not help define a clade.
The terms ancestral and derived are RELATIVE.
Grade – group of organisms with a common adaptation or biological organization.
o Example: due to bipedalism, tool use, etc., humans are put into a separate grade.
Fossilization is a result of minerals replacing organic compounds in bones. Original bone still present can be
subjected to stable isotope analysis.
Bias in the fossil record comes from habitat, geology, and modern history. Fossils don’t know political
boundaries, but archaeologists do.
Is variation between fossils interspecific or intraspecific?
Is the researcher a splitter or a lumper?
Example: Homo habilus.
Lecture Eight – Reconstructing Past Lives I: Activity, Illness, and Stress
Bones are living organs. They have both bone tissue and soft tissue.
Bones grow and mature, as well as respond to stress, activity, and diet.
Three things that make up bone tissue:
1. Collagen – tensile strength (bending) 30%
2. Apatite – compression strength 70%
3. Bone Cells – deposit and maintain matrix << 1%
Sex, age, and stature influence the skeleton.
Wolff’s Law – bone is laid down where it is needed and reabsorbed where it is not.
o Heavily used muscle will have thicker attachment points
o Atrophy – shrinking of bone
Lesions on bones can say a lot about trauma and disease.
Tuberculosis has a collapsed spine with a sharp angle.
Malnutrition and illness can profoundly affect growth rate. This can be chronic.
3 Secular trend – people have increased in height based on improved diet. This increase has leveled off in the
late 20 century.
Linear Enamel Hypoplasia – marks in the tooth where growth rate was slow. It develops in forming tooth.
LEH and reduced stature are non-specific stress indicators.
Difficult to match lesions to a cause and to determine cause of death.
Lecture Nine – Reconstructing Past Lives II: Reconstructing Diet
Teeth can be indicative of diet.
Size and limb proportions reflect energy needs.
Archaeological sites show food remains, faunal bones, seeds, tools, and images depicting food.
Dental disease can show microwear, which can indicate which foods were eaten. As well, a high level of caries
may indicate a high-carbohydrate diet.
Stable Isotope Analysis
o Stable isotopes do not decay.
o Proportions of isotopes vary and are passed on to our tissues.
o Carbon-12 and Carbon-13 are stable. They are present in high proportions in grasses, especially
grains, maize, and millet. They are also high in marine organisms.
o Nitrogen-15 is also stable. An organism’s tissue is higher than its food. Thus, it can be used as an
indicator of trophic levels. Marine organisms also have high N-15 values.
To differentiate between a high meat diet and a high marine animal diet, C-13 can be used. A
high C-13 indicates marine fish diet.
o N-15 can also be used to show when weaning took place, as infants are one trophic level above the
Lecture Ten – The Modern Primates
Key Primate Traits
o Grasping hands and feet – opposable thumb, nails instead of claws, tactile pads on fingers and toes,
and five digits.
o Visually oriented – stereoscopic vision with overlapping fields of vision, decreased sense of smell, and
colour vision (present in most primates).
o Flexible, generalized limbs – versatile locomotion, capable of various forms of locomotion, even
swimming, climbing, running, and leaping.
o Generalize dentition – reflects ability to
eat many foods.
o Reliance on learned behaviors – large
and complex brain, extension of juvenile
period, and single offspring.
o Strepsirhine – have moist rhinarium and are
found in Old World tropics.
o Haplorhine – have dry nose and full orbital
o Prosimians – primates that aren’t
monkeys or apes a grade.
o Anthropoids – “higher primates”.
o Have grasping hands and feet,
stereoscopic vision, a moist rhinarium, good sense of smell, nocturnal, small brain, and short juvenile
o Have a dental comb, which is used for grooming.
4 o Have full orbital enclosure, Haplorhine nose, no central suture, weaker sense of smell, larger brain,
longer life cycle, and complex social systems.
o Have both Haplorhine (no tooth comb, Haplorhine nose) and Strepsirhine (strong sense of smell,
nocturnal, simple behavior) traits.
o New World Monkeys – nose points laterally (Platyrrhine nose), 220.127.116.11 dental formula, some have
prehensile tails, and they are small.
o Old World Monkeys, Apes, and Humans (Infraorder Catarrhini) – nostrils point down (Catarrhine
nose), 18.104.22.168 dental formula.
Cercopithecoidea – Old World Monkeys: have ischial callosities (pads on butt), move
quadrupedally, and have bilophodont molars.
Hominoidea – Apes and Humans: are generally larger in size, have no tail, dependence on
learned behavior, and anatomy is adapted for hanging and swinging.
Hylobatidae – lesser apes: gibbons and siamangs – brachiators.
Pongidae – great apes: large bodied and highly intelligent.
Hominidae – humans: bipedalism, culture, and language.
Lecture Eleven – Paleocene and Eocene Fossil Primates
Primates diverged from other mammals in the Cretaceous period 90 mya.
Earliest definite primate is 54 mya
40-year gap in fossil record. Perhaps because not all primate skeletal traits are present.
Models predict the general traits of first primates to be grasping and binocular vision.
Angiosperm hypothesis predicts that primates developed as a response to flowering plants and fruits, which
would be located in trees. Grasping aids in climbing on small branches and vision allows them to see bright
Visual predation hypothesis predicts that 3D vision developed in order to find prey and grasping hands were
used to catch it.
These two theories predict different first primates. Angiosperm primates would be arboreal frugivores, while
visual predation primates would be insectivores and not necessarily arboreal.
Recent model combines the two theories.
Plesiadapiforms appear in the Paleocene (65-55 mya) and are a group of small mammals found mostly in
Eurasia and North America. Teeth suggest a mixed diet of fruit and insects.
Carpolestes simpsoni is a particular Plesiadapiform, which has specialized adaptations for grasping.
o N. America ~ 55 mya
o Grasping hand with one nail on first digit
o Teeth suggest fruit. Teeth are unlike modern primates
Plesiadapiforms were once accepted as the first primates. Now, that is argued against. Bioch et al proposed
that plesiadapiforms are broadly defined. A branch of primates (euprimates) had grasping hands and
stereoscopic vision. The rest went extinct.
First definite primates appear in Eocene 54.8 to 33.7 mya. They have larger brains, shorter snouts,
postorbital bar, grasping hands, and nails on most digits.
o Adapoids – primitive, generalized dentition. Likely arboreal, diet of fruit and leaves, and likely
ancestor to Strepsirhines
Lemurs, lorises, and galagos are likely descended from Adapoids. Nocturnal features may be
due to competition with monkeys. Lemurs arrive at Madagascar via rafting?
o Omomyoids have variable dentition. They are ancestral to some Haplorhines. Some people argue that
they are ancestral to all Haplorhines.
Fossil Relationships One:
o Basal Primate (perhaps Plesiadapiforms) branches into Adapoids and Omomyoids. Perhaps it also
branches into Early Anthropoids. Or, Early Anthropoids are derived from Omomyoids.
5 Lecture Twelve – Oligocene and Miocene Fossil Primates
Oligocene – 40 – 23 mya.
o Fayum – area in Egypt with many anthropoid species. At the time, the Fayum was a swampy tropical
o Large extinction event as a result of climate change. The climate becomes cooler and drier.
o Primates vanish in Europe and North America. Modern New World monkeys arrived in South America
o Selective pressure as a result of climate change increases competition and results in the development
and radiation of monkeys. Nocturnality arises to avoid direct competition with monkeys.
o Fused mandibular symphysis
o Postorbital septum
o Details of ear anatomy
o 2133 and 2123 dental formula common.
Apidium – a small diurnal arboreal anthropoid with 2133 dental formula. Ate fruit and seeds.
Aegyptopitecus – large arboreal with 2123 dental formula. It is diurnal and eats fruit and leaves.
Early New World Monkeys are descended from early African anthropoids.
Earliest primate fossils in South America appear in Oligocene ~27 mya.
o Primates got here on large floating rafts of vegetation.
Miocene fossil record shows diversification of Fayum-type anthropoids and radiation of these species into
the rest of the Old World.
Gap exists between the Fayum period (~35 mya) and the Early Miocene (23-16 mya).
Early Miocene Apes are referred to as dental apes.
o Proconsul is the most famous of these apes. It has adaptations for quadrupedal locomotion: long back,
shoulder, hip, and curved digits. It has a Y-5 dental pattern.
o Adaptations include a small body size, forested habitat, arboreal quadrupeds, and eat mostly fruits
o Catarrhines are a common ancestor to OWM and Apes?
Middle Miocene Apes
o Look like modern apes
o Spread into Europe and Asia
o Silvapithecus may be related to orangutans
o There are many species know.
o OWM, M. Miocene Apes, and Apes share a common ancestor, the Catarrhines.
o M. Miocene Apes and Apes share a common ancestor, the Hominoids.
Monkeys are better able to adapt to changing climate conditions, and we see diversification of monkeys.
Morotopithecus bishopi was discovered in the 1960’s. It is a dental ape and has mobile hip and shoulder
joints. It has a stiff back, large round vertebral bodies, and transverse processes that come off the pedicle. It is
very old, over 20.6 mya.
Fossil Relationships Two:
Geologic Time Scale
o Paleocene – 65.5 to 56 million years ago.
o Eocene – 56 to 34 million years ago.
o Oligocene – 34 to 23 million years ago.
o Miocene – 23 to 5.3 million years ago.
o Pliocene – 5.3 to 2.6 million years ago.
o Pleistocene – 2.6 mya to 11 700 years ago.
o Holocene – 11 700 years ago to present.
6 Lithiostratigraphy – the study of strata or rock layers.
Biostratigraphy – the study of strata or rock layers using the fossils within them.