Introduction to Physical Anthropology
Hominins- members of the evolutionary lineage that includes ourselves, modern Homo
sapiens, and extinct bipedal relatives
Bipedally- walked on two feet
Savanna- a large flat grassland with scattered trees and shrubs. Savannas are found in
many regions of the world with dry and warm-to-hot climates.
Species- a group of organisms that can interbreed to produce fertile offspring; Members
of one species are reproductively isolated from members of all other species (That is,
they can’t mate with them to produce fertile offspring).
Primates- members of the order of mammals Primates, which includes lemurs, lorises,
tarsiers, monkeys, apes, and humans
Evolution- a change in the genetic structure of a population (Macroevolution); The term
is also sometimes used to refer to the appearance of a new species (Microevolution).
Adaption- an anatomical, physiological, or behavioral response of organisms or
populations to the environment; Adaptions result from evolutionary change (specifically,
as a result of natural selection).
Genetic- pertaining to genetics, the study of gene structure and action and the patterns
of transmission of traits from parent to offspring. Genetic mechanisms are the
foundation for evolutionary change.
Culture- behavioral aspects of human adaption, including technology, traditions,
language, religion, marriage patterns, and social roles; Culture is a set of learned
behaviors transmitted from one generation to the next by non-biological (non-genetic)
Worldview- general cultural orientation or perspective shared by members of a society.
Behavior- anything organisms do that involves action in response to internal or external
stimuli. The response of an individual, group, or species to its environment; Such
responses may or may not be deliberate, and they aren’t necessarily the results of
conscious decision making.
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 evolution. 2
Anthropology- the field of inquiry that studies human culture and evolutionary aspects
of human biology; includes cultural anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, and physical,
or biological, anthropology.
Applied Anthropology- the practical application of anthropological and archeological
theories and techniques. For example, many biological anthropologists work in the
public health sector.
Ethnographies- detailed descriptive studies of human societies. In cultural
anthropology, an ethnography is traditionally the study of a non-Western society.
Cultural Anthropology – also called social anthropology, is the study of the global
patterns of belief and behavior found in modern and historical cultures.
Medical Anthropology – an applied subfield of cultural anthropology that explores the
relationship between various cultural attributes and health and disease.
Archaeology – the study of cultures and lifeways by anthropologists who specialize in
the scientific recovery, analysis, and interpretations of the material remains of past
Artifacts- objects or materials made or modi