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Biological anthropology

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Majir
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« on: December 08, 2010, 01:09:27 pm »

Biological anthropology

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.

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Majir
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« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2010, 01:10:15 pm »



Primate skulls: Human, Chimpanzee, Orangutan, Macaque.
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Majir
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« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2010, 01:10:26 pm »

Physical anthropology began primarily with studies of 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.

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Majir
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« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2010, 01:10:41 pm »

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.

Practitioners began calling their science "biological anthropology" when the rise of genetics, and successful attempts to study non-human primates in their natural habitat, allowed anthropologists to rely on evidence other than bones.

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