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Primate skulls: Human, Chimpanzee, Orangutan, Macaque.

Biological anthropology (also physical anthropology) is the branch of anthropology that studies, in the context of other primates the development of the human species. Biological anthropology incorporates bio-cultural studies of human diversity, in time and space; the ancestry of the human species; and the comparative anatomy, behavior, history, and ecology, of the other primates.

Contents

History

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach

Physical anthropology emerged in the 18th century as the scientific study of race;[1] the first prominent physical anthropologist was the German physician Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752–1840) of Göttingen, who amassed a large collection of human skulls, and thus could claim empirical authority on the subject of human diversity. In the 1830s and 1840s, physical anthropology was prominent in the debate about slavery, with the scientific, monogenist works of the British abolitionist James Cowles Prichard (1786–1848) opposing those of the American polygenist Samuel George Morton (1799–1851); the end of slavery rendered the central anthropological matters mostly trivial.

Pierre Paul Broca

In the latter part of the 19th century, there emerged national anthropologic traditions. The French physical anthropologists, led by Paul Broca (1824–1880), focused on cranial anatomy and its minute variations. The German tradition, led by Rudolf Virchow (1821–1902), emphasized the mutability of human form, the influence of environment and disease upon the human body, and the lack of fit among race, nation, and culture. The American tradition concentrated upon the “pacified” aboriginal (Indian) inhabitants of the North American continent, exhuming and collecting skeletons as scientific objects, along with artifacts, languages, and culture (ways of life); said investigational method became the “four-field approach” in anthropology.

The term biological anthropology incorporates the non-physical data (genetic markers, primate behavior, et cetera) that, by mid-century, scientists had recognized existed. In contemporary usage, the terms physical anthropology and biological anthropology are synonymous. The field sub-division of the American Anthropological Association is the Biological Anthropology Section, but the principal professional organization is the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.

Franz Boas

In the US, after the Civil War (1861–65), physical anthropology was an arcane medical speciality. In 1897, it was the Columbia University appointment of Franz Boas (1858–1942), that the propelled the field of anthropology into its modern academic structure. As a physical anthropologist, Boas was hired his expertise in measuring schoolchildren, and collecting of Inuit skeletons. From his German education and training, Boas emphasized the mutability of the human form; and minimize race (then a biology synonym) in favor of studying culture, (see Cultural Relativism).

Aleš Hrdlička
Cephalic index calipers: the 19th-century measure of man.

American physical anthropology was developed by Ales Hrdlicka (1869–1943), at the Smithsonian Institution, and by Earnest Hooton (1887–1954), at Harvard University. Hrdlicka, a physician, studied physical antropology in France, under Leonce Manouvrier, before working at the Smithsonian in 1902. Hooton, a Classics PhD from the University of Wisconsin, then entered anthropology as an Oxford Rhodes Scholar, under R. R. Marett, and the anatomist Arthur Keith. Harvard University hired Hooton in 1913; for the next decades, he trained most American physical anthropologists, beginning with Harry L. Shapiro and Carleton S. Coon. As the leading US student of race in the 1930s, Earnest Hooton struggled to differentiate “good” American physical anthropology from “bad” German physical anthropology. [2] Nonetheless, despite that conflict of scientific interpretation, there was much intellectual continuity between Germans and Americans, such as Eugen Fischer, Fritz Lenz, and Erwin Baur.[3]

In 1951, in an influential report, Sherwood Washburn, a Hooton alumnus, re-invented the field with a “new physical anthropology”.[4] For the post–Second World War generation of anthropologists, physical anthropology was transformed by withdrawing from the study of racial typology to concentrate upon the study of human microevolution; away from classification, and towards evolutionary process and history. Under Washburn’s lead, anthropology expanded to comprehend paleoanthropology and primatology.[5] Consequently, contemporary anthropology is methodologically diverse, comprehending the cognate fields of animal behavior, human genetics, and medical anatomy, et cetera.

  1. ^ Marks, J. (1995) Human Biodiversity: Genes, Race, and History. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.
  2. ^ Hooton, E. A. (1936) “Plain Statements About Race”. Science, 83:511-513.
  3. ^ Baur, E., Fischer, E., and Lenz, F. (1931) Human Heredity, Eden Paul and Cedar Paul, translators. New York: Macmillan,
  4. ^ Washburn, S. L. (1951) “The New Physical Anthropology”, Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences, Series II, 13:298-304.
  5. ^ Haraway, D. (1988) “Remodelling the Human Way of Life: Sherwood Washburn and the New Physical Anthropology, 1950–1980”, in Bones, Bodies, Behavior: Essays on Biological Anthropology, of the History of Anthropology, v.5, G. Stocking, ed., Madison, Wisc., University of Wisconsin Press, pp. 206-259.

Branches

Renowned biological anthropologists

See Also

External links

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skulls: Human, Chimpanzee, Orangutan, Macaque.]]

Biological anthropology (also physical anthropology) is the branch of anthropology that studies, in the context of other primates, the development of the human species. Biological anthropology incorporates bio-cultural studies of human diversity, the ancestry of the human species; and the comparative anatomy, behavior, history, and ecology, of historic and present-day primates. It mostly studies hominid fossil evidence and their evolution and studies.

Contents

Background

Physical anthropology primarily studies primate fossils in history, their comparison and contrast, why and when certain traits such as mandible and chin evolved or disappeared, nature and environment on walking (bipedal or not), how the environment and resources affected the fossil primates and did they use fire or not. It also primarily deals with primate classification in the hominid tree and inclusion or exclusion of fossil evidence to and from the hominid tree and the individual naming of the proposed species.

It also studies why a species likely disappeared or diverged from each other in evolution. Particularly what change occurred that affected the individuals to evolve similarly or differently. Therefore physical anthropology closely works with paleoanthropology and the physical evidence since you need a tangible material to prove or disapprove something. It also focuses on fossil dating.

For instance, physical anthropology will focus on Australopithecus afarensis, Paranthropus boisei, Homo erectus, bipedalism (full bipedalism or combined with arboreal), use of fire (cooking gives more nutrient and energy), teeth structure and jaw strength (sagittal crest (more the crest more they ate hard foods like nuts), did they eat hard food or soft food), relative height and brain size of the species, opposable thumb, Out of Africa theory and multiregional models, species replacement or mating between hominid species if that's the case, the time the species likely appeared and/or went extinct, physical environment the species lived in (savanna, desert), radiocarbon dating, chin (one of the differences between Homo sapiens species and Homo erectus for instance), etc. It tries to give distinct characteristics and reasons to try to understand the whole picture of human evolution.

Physical anthropology uses the scientific method with extensive cross analysis and revision if necessary.

History

File:Johann Friedrich
Johann Friedrich Blumenbach

Physical anthropology emerged in the 18th century as the scientific study of race;[1] the first prominent physical anthropologist was the German physician Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752–1840) of Göttingen, who amassed a large collection of human skulls, and thus could claim empirical authority on the subject of human diversity. In the 1830s and 1840s, physical anthropology was prominent in the debate about slavery, with the scientific, monogenist works of the British abolitionist James Cowles Prichard (1786–1848) opposing those of the American polygenist Samuel George Morton (1799–1851); the end of slavery rendered the central anthropological matters mostly trivial.

File:Paul
Pierre Paul Broca

In the latter part of the 19th century, there emerged national anthropologic traditions. The French physical anthropologists, led by Paul Broca (1824–1880), focused on cranial anatomy and its minute variations. The German tradition, led by Rudolf Virchow (1821–1902), emphasized the mutability of human form, the influence of environment and disease upon the human body, and the lack of fit among race, nation, and culture. The American tradition concentrated upon the “pacified” aboriginal (Indian) inhabitants of the North American continent, exhuming and collecting skeletons as scientific objects, along with artifacts, languages, and culture (ways of life); said investigational method became the “four-field approach” in anthropology.

The term biological anthropology incorporates the non-physical data (genetic markers, primate behavior, et cetera) that, by mid-century, scientists had recognized existed. In contemporary usage, the terms physical anthropology and biological anthropology are synonymous. The field sub-division of the American Anthropological Association is the Biological Anthropology Section, but the principal professional organization is the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.

[[File:|thumb|right|125px|Franz Boas]]

In the US, after the Civil War (1861–65), physical anthropology was an arcane medical speciality. In 1897, it was the Columbia University appointment of Franz Boas (1858–1942), that propelled the field of anthropology into its modern academic structure. As a physical anthropologist, Boas was hired for his expertise in measuring schoolchildren, and collecting of Inuit skeletons. From his German education and training, Boas emphasized the mutability of the human form; and minimize race (then a biology synonym) in favor of studying culture, (see Cultural Relativism).

File:Ales
Aleš Hrdlička

American physical anthropology was developed by Ales Hrdlicka (1869–1943), at the Smithsonian Institution, and by Earnest Hooton (1887–1954), at Harvard University. Hrdlicka, a physician, studied physical antropology in France, under Leonce Manouvrier, before working at the Smithsonian in 1902. Hooton, a Classics PhD from the University of Wisconsin, then entered anthropology as an Oxford Rhodes Scholar, under R. R. Marett, and the anatomist Arthur Keith. Harvard University hired Hooton in 1913; for the next decades, he trained most American physical anthropologists, beginning with Harry L. Shapiro and Carleton S. Coon. As the leading US student of race in the 1930s, Earnest Hooton struggled to differentiate “good” American physical anthropology from “bad” German physical anthropology.[2] Nonetheless, despite that conflict of scientific interpretation, there was much intellectual continuity between Germans and Americans, such as Eugen Fischer, Fritz Lenz, and Erwin Baur.[3]

In 1951, in an influential report, Sherwood Washburn, a Hooton alumnus, re-invented the field with a “new physical anthropology”.[4] For the post–Second World War generation of anthropologists, physical anthropology was transformed by withdrawing from the study of racial typology to concentrate upon the study of human microevolution; away from classification, and towards evolutionary process and history. Under Washburn’s lead, anthropology expanded to comprehend paleoanthropology and primatology.[5] Consequently, contemporary anthropology is methodologically diverse, comprehending the cognate fields of animal behavior, human genetics, and medical anatomy, et cetera.

Modern day physical anthropology is a scientific discipline and therefore holds no ideological positions on anything.[dubious ] Like other scientific fields, fraud and fabrication are not tolerated and will almost permanently negatively impact the person's reputation who manufactured the material.

Branches

Renowned biological anthropologists

See also

External links

Further reading

  • Michael A. Little and Kenneth A.R. Kennedy, eds. Histories of American Physical Anthropology in the Twentieth Century (Lexington Books; 2010); 259 pages; essays on the field from the late 19th to the late 20th century; topics include Sherwood L. Washburn (1911–2000) and the "new physical anthropology."

References

  1. ^ Marks, J. (1995) Human Biodiversity: Genes, Race, and History. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.
  2. ^ Hooton, E. A. (1936) “Plain Statements About Race”. Science, 83:511-513.
  3. ^ Baur, E., Fischer, E., and Lenz, F. (1931) Human Heredity, Eden Paul and Cedar Paul, translators. New York: Macmillan,
  4. ^ Washburn, S. L. (1951) “The New Physical Anthropology”, Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences, Series II, 13:298-304.
  5. ^ Haraway, D. (1988) “Remodelling the Human Way of Life: Sherwood Washburn and the New Physical Anthropology, 1950–1980”, in Bones, Bodies, Behavior: Essays on Biological Anthropology, of the History of Anthropology, v.5, G. Stocking, ed., Madison, Wisc., University of Wisconsin Press, pp. 206-259.

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