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Chapter 1

Chapter 1 Summary and Defs Understanding Humans

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Anthropology 1026F/G
Andrew Nelson

Chapter OneIntroduction to Anthropology Physical anthropology studies aspects of human biology emphasizing evolutionary perspectives nonhuman primates and the hominin fossil record Physical anthropologists are interested in how hominins came to possess culture and how this process influenced the direction of human evolutionPhysical anthropologists especially regarding the study of early hominins work closely with many specialists from archaeology geology chemistry and other disciplines that form the interdisciplinary field of paleoanthropologyArchaeology provides time depth for our understanding of humans as biocultural organismsSystematic examination of the archaeological record provides the basis for archaeologists interpretations of extinct lifeways as well as the construction of cultural chronologies explanations for observable cultural changes and interpretations of the cognitive and symbolic patterns that mark our past As with paleoanthropology of which prehistoric archaeology is a key component archaeological research involves input from many related disciplinesThis collaborative examination of the archaeological record yields nearly all we know if not all we are likely to ever know about prehistoric human behaviour and activities Definitions Evolution a change in the genetic structure of a population from one generation to the next the term is also frequently used to refer to the appearance of a new speciesAnthropology a field of inquiry that studies human culture and evolutionary aspects of human biology includes cultural anthropology archaeology linguistics and physical anthropology Scientific Method an approach to research whereby a problem is identified a hypothesis is stated and that hypothesis is tested through the collection and analysis of data Biocultural Evolution the mutual interactive evolution of human biology and culture the concept that biology makes culture possible and that developing culture further influences the direction of biological evolution a basic concept in understanding the unique components of human evolutionC
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