What Is Biological Anthropology?
What Is Biological Anthropology? Biological or Physical Anthropology is human biological diversity in time and space (Kottak, 1994). Biological Anthropology is the study of human potential from both the physiological and psychological perspective (Royal Anthropological Institute, 2010) Forensic Anthropology, Evolutionary Anthropology and Primates are all a part of the central organizing concepts of Biological Anthropology (Royal Anthropological Institute, 2010). Much of the potential for variation in Biological Anthropology is a result of genetic and environmental features. The focus on human variation unites five special interests within Biological Anthropology: Hominid evolution as revealed by the fossil record (paleoanthropology) Human genetics Human growth and development Human biological plasticity (the body’s ability to cope with stresses, such as heat, cold, and altitude) The biology, evolution, behavior, and social life of monkeys, apes, and other nonhuman primates (Kottak, 1994). Biological Anthropology’s research interests link it to other fields including biology, zoology, geology, anatomy, physiology, medicine and public health. Osteology, the study of... read more ❯
Race - TMSE
By Olivia Davis Today in class, we discussed the concept of race as defined by anthropologists. I began our lesson with a review of the four fields of anthropology and tried to tie in some of the other topics that we've covered that are related to each of the fields. As expected, they read the four topics that I had written on the slide instead of coming up with answers on their own, but since we haven't covered all of them in our lessons yet, I cut them some slack. For this week's lesson on race, I started with the definition of the concept that is most commonly understood in our society– as a category of people generally based on a geographic location, and that are sometimes identified by similar physical attributes such as skin color, height, or hair type/color. After letting that definition soak in for a moment, I asked the class... read more ❯
Museums at Arcadia
Week 7: Museums Lecture A museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and artistic, cultural, historical, or scientifically important items. They make these items available for public viewing through exhibits. Some of the most attended museums include the Louvre in Paris, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. There are many types of museums, including art museums, natural history museums, science museums, war museums, and children's museums. Museums have many different things on display, including paintings, photographs, sculptures, clothing, historical documents, and fossils. Anthropologists are interested the preservation of artifacts and the ability for them to be displayed for public viewing. Activity Each clan received one supply box in which to create their own exhibit. The art was created out colored paper, glue, tape, costumes, and other craft supplies. They named... read more ❯
Evolution - TMSE
By Melinda Carr When I was a high school student taking Advanced Placement Biology in small-town Alabama, I was taught creationism, with evolution as a cursory side note. On the exit exam and during my first few semesters of college, I felt as if I was very much behind concerning a cornerstone scientific theory. Therefore, I was very excited when I was given the opportunity to teach the students of the Tuscaloosa Magnet School about evolution so they would be better prepared than I ever was. For my lecture, I wanted to make sure that the students had a simple phrase that they could easily remember about evolution. I thought that “change over time” was an appropriate way of explaining what evolution is and all of the natural processes it can represent, not just necessarily species. Also, I feel like small-scale evolution doesn’t get much attention compared to large-scale, so I explained... read more ❯
Primates - TMSE
By Molly Jaworski This week at the Tuscaloosa Magnet School we discussed Primates. We started the class reviewing key concepts from our previous lectures. I asked the class a series of 4 questions to test their knowledge on what we have learned up until this point. What are the four subfields of Anthropology? What is ethnography? What is Archeology And why are museums important? The students seem to grasp the main idea of each of these questions and as one student would answer it would jog the memory of another who wished to contribute to the answer as well. After our review session I started this week’s discussion on Primates. My main goal was to make sure that the students could properly identify the definition of a primate and the differences in types of primates. After explaining what a primate is to the class I asked the students to identify the differences in Apes and Monkeys! Everyone in... read more ❯
Homo antiquus: Ferguson's "Find" or "Folly"?
(Pictured above: A skull of Australopithecus africanus) Walter W. Ferguson (1984) argues that the discovery of several hominoid fossils in Hadar, Ethopia is a part of a new species, Homo antiquus. Hadar or the Hadar Research Project Area is the widely accepted name for the archaeological site approximately 300 Km (180 Miles) northeast of Addis Ababa in the Afar Rift System of the Rift Valley of Africa. The Hadar ecology is one of mountain building, faults and volcanoes. The Hadar Formation is a major region of physical geography in Africa and is approximately 3.4 million to 3 million years old (Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Human Evolution, 2011). The vast majority of the hominins found at Hadar have been attributed to Australopithecus afarensis on the basis of their dental and gnathic similarities to specimens from Laetoli. A small number of the hominin fossils found at Hadar have been attributed to Homo habilis (Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of... read more ❯
Is Homo gautengensis a valid species?
Homo gautengensis is a hominin species whose remains were discovered in the South African paleocaves of Sterkfontain, Drimolen, Kromdraai, and Gondolin. First described by Curnoe in 2010, it was suggested to have lived 2.00-0.82 million years ago (based on multi-method chronological seriation) in South, and possibly East, Africa. Bivariate analysis comparing cranial and mandibular measurements between cases Stw 53 and SK 847 and means and ranges of cranial, mandibular, and dental measurements from H. habilis and H. erectus suggest that Stw 53 is significantly different from H. habilis and H. erectus, may represent a novel species. According to Curnoe (2010), size of remains and timeline together suggest that Stw 53 represents H. gautengensis, a novel hominin species that pre-dates H. habilis, making it the earliest recognized species of Homo at the time of publication. A Web of Science search of articles citing Curnoe (2010) turned up fifteen sources, none of... read more ❯
Dispatches From the Field #4
Sibö (the Bribrí god) made the first indigenous people from seeds of corn. He brought the seeds from a place called suLa’kaska, which means the Place of Destiny. At the time the earth was only rock, and Sibö knew he had to create soil in order to plant his corn seeds. On another planet there lived a tapir family. Sibö asked a bat to fly to that place and suck the blood of a little girl tapir. The bat did as he was told and when he returned to the earth he defecated on the rocks. A few days later the first trees began to sprout from that place. Sibö realized that his experiment to make soil was working, so he sent the bat again to suck the blood of the little girl tapir. The bat returned and again defecated upon the rocks and more trees grew. Sibö then made... read more ❯
Family Matters: We Talk the Talk, but Do We Walk the Walk?
Diversity is Our Business1: We Talk the Talk, but do we Walk the Walk?,2 As academic anthropologists, my colleagues and I talk diversity all the time, but it refers to more than heritage, socioeconomic status, or gender. Jo Weaver and I have convened a session at the upcoming AAA conference about "Problems and Priorities in Biocultural Research" (see Jo's summary in last month's AN column), but our session is really as much about diversity as it is bringing non-research design-related issues to the fore. What other biases influence who can become an anthropologist? What if I am reliant on medication to stabilize my mood and that medication is poorly understood and my dose-response is sensitive... read more ❯
Dispatches From the Field #3
It was a Friday afternoon and we were putting the finishing touches on the new office building we were constructing for the community. We were listening to the local Talamancan radio station, which was broadcasting on site in Amubri where there was a festival going on. I discovered that the next day there would be an activity called “Jala de Piedra” which involves a bunch of men carrying a big rock somewhere, some kind of Bribrí ritual. I also discovered there is a cantina in Amubri which serves cold beer. Technically, there is no alcohol sold on the reserve but there are two cantinas which existed before the law and they were grandfathered in. I decided, hell yeah, I gotta see this. The journey to Amubri first involves the 2 to 2 ½ hour walk from Yorkín to Bambu, crossing the Telire River in a canoe to get to Bambu. From... read more ❯