Biological anthropology, or physical anthropology is a branch of anthropology that studies the mechanisms of biological evolution, genetic inheritance, human adaptability and variation, primatology, primate morphology, and the fossil record of human evolution. See also: Race.
Physical anthropology developed in the 19th century, prior to the rise of Alfred Russel Wallace's and Charles Darwin's theories of natural selection and Gregor Mendel's work on genetics. Physical anthropology was so called because all of its data was physical (fossils, especially human bones). With the rise of Darwinian theory and the modern synthesis, anthropologists had access to new forms of data, and many began to call themselves "biological anthropologists."
Some of the early branches of physical anthropology, such as early anthropometry, are now rejected as pseudoscience. Metrics such as the cephalic index were used to derive behavioral characteristics. Two of the earliest founders of scientific physical anthropology were Paul Broca and Franz Boas.
- Primatology, the study of primates,
- Population genetics, the study of biological human variability and diversity (related to evolutionary biology)
- Human adaptation, the study of human adaptive responses (physiological, developmental, and genetic) to environmental stress and variation (see also biomedical anthropology, human biology).
- Human anatomy the study of the anatomy and physiology of humans and their ancestors.
- Human evolution including:
- Neuroanthropology, the study of the evolution of the human brain, and of culture as a neurological adaptation of the species to its environment.
The study of human evolution often involves other specializations:
- Human osteology, the study of skeletal material. Experts in osteology are able to apply their skills and knowledge to other areas:
Renowned Biological Anthropologists
- Lee Berger(1965- )
- Davidson Black )
- C. Loring Brace (1930- )
- Bob Brain (1931- )
- Robert Broom )
- Ron Clarke
- Carleton S. Coon )
- Raymond Dart )
- Eugene Dubois )
- William Curtis Farabee )
- Sir George Duncan Gibb )
- Ralph L. Holloway (1935- )
- Earnest Hooton )
- F. Clark Howell )
- Donald C. Johanson (1943- )
- Louis Leakey )
- Mary Leakey (1913-1996)
- Richard Leakey (1944- )
- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin )
- Phillip V. Tobias (1925-)
- Alan C. Walker (1938- )
- Sherwood Washburn )
- Milford H. Wolpoff (1942- )
- Tim White (1950- )
- American Association of Physical Anthropologists
- British Association of Biological Anthropologists and Osteoarchaeologists
- Canadian Association for Physical Anthropology
- Homo erectus and Homo neanderthalensis reconstructions - Electronic articles published by the Division of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History.
- The Internet Journal of Biological Anthropology-The Free Online Journal
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