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UA / Anthropology / ANTH 1013 / What does anthropology focus on?

What does anthropology focus on?

What does anthropology focus on?


School: University of Arkansas
Department: Anthropology
Course: Introduction to Biological Anthropology
Professor: Lucas delezene
Term: Winter 2016
Cost: 25
Name: Lectures 1 and 2 (notes going towards exam 1) 1/19 & 1/21
Description: set of notes that cover material going towards exam 1 in bio anthropology
Uploaded: 01/22/2016
7 Pages 149 Views 2 Unlocks

University of Arkansas

What does anthropology focus on?

ANTH 1013 – Intro to Biological Anthropology


Bio Anthropology: Lecture 1 Notes

(notes going towards exam 1)

Broad definition: study of humans across time and space -anthropology studies the interactions between evolutionary and  cultural factors  

Subfields of anthropology: 

-cultural anthropology – study of human societies  

-linguistic anthropology – study of language, its origins & use -archaeology – study of the material culture of past people  -biological (physical anthropology) – study of human biology within an  evolutionary framework (primatology, paleoanthropology, functional  anatomy, forensics, skeletal biology, genetics)

How does bio-anthropology make use of science?



-locomotion (how a primate moves) Don't forget about the age old question of What do heterotrophs consume?

-social behavior

-comparative anatomy

What is paleoanthropology?

-fossil collection, lab research, archaeological excavation, paleoecology  

How do you know what you think you know?

-every possible idea + individual beliefs

-bio anthropology makes use of science as a way of knowing -science is a way of acquiring knowledge

-seeks natural causal explanations for observable phenomenon -searches for observable regularity

-relies on empirical observation by independent observers -requires that proposed explanations be falsifiable – able to be proven false  

How can one determine if a hypothesis is a good one?

-has nothing to say about unobservable and/or supernatural  processes or unique events

-makes claims that are always provisional – open to rejection

University of Arkansas

ANTH 1013 – Intro to Biological Anthropology We also discuss several other topics like For how many years was athens conquered?


-science begins with an observation of potential causal connection between  two events

-example: “a jar of picric acid is dropped”, “when it hits the ground, it  explodes”  

-on the basis of this observation, we might suggest that Don't forget about the age old question of What is the role of the monasteries?

when picric acid is shaken, it explodes

-the statement, “when it hits the ground, it explodes” is a hypothesis – a statement that suggests a casual relationship between the events, a proposed explanation, a guess about how something works (when “x”, then “y”)

How do we know if a hypothesis is a “good” one? Can it be  addressed using the scientific method?

-we have to think about our hypotheses first and establish that it’s possible  to prove it wrong and describe what could be observed that would prove it  wrong – this is what falsifiable means We also discuss several other topics like What are the two domains of kingdom monera?

-if it can’t be proven wrong, it has no valuable use

-example: is the hypothesis, “when picric acid is shaken, it explodes”  falsifiable? What can be conducted to prove it wrong? Don't forget about the age old question of What is the focus of intrapersonal communication?

How do we know if a hypothesis is correct?

-test it by evaluating how regular it is – seeing how many times the same  results are concluded

-test a hypothesis by looking for conditions where “x” occurs, and observe  whether “y” also occurs

-if “y” doesn’t always occur, then the hypothesis is rejected -if “y” does always occur, then the hypothesis is supported, but still gets  tested multiple times

**the real power of a test usually lies in its ability to reject a hypothesis – always the goal

-if the hypothesis undergoes rigorous testing by multiple independent  observers under careful conditions without being rejected, scientists will  begin to have increased confidence that it’s correct and may use it as an  explanation

-all explanatory statements are provisional in science – any of them could  be replaced with new data

-some hypotheses have been tested so thoroughly that scientists have very high confidence in them – these can be known as lawsIf you want to learn more check out What form of government is monarchy?

University of Arkansas

ANTH 1013 – Intro to Biological Anthropology


-an example of a well supported hypothesis is: “primates that eat leaves or  insects evolve long shearing crests on their teeth”

Theory in science

-a theory is a well-established and interrelated set of facts and hypotheses  that’s used to explain diverse events and phenomena

-examples of theories used in science: germ theory, gravitational theory,  quantum theory, evolutionary theory

Biological anthropology as a historical science

-any field that hopes to explain events that happened in the past runs into  the problem of not being able to see events directly – does this make them  “unscientific”?  

-science doesn’t rely on direct observation

-using well-established laws can explain past events

-laws allow scientists to predict future events, as long as they are regular and the conditions where they work are understood

Lecture 2 Notes

(notes going towards exam 1)

Darwin’s theories: 

-why are there groups of similar species?

-why is there a hierarchical pattern of similarity among species? -how is the diversity of life on earth explained?

-answer to these questions: populations of organisms form lineages that evolve and split into multiple daughter species

Evolutionary hypothesis explain adaptation and diversity  -if lineages diverse to create multiple daughter species that look slightly  different, then:

-individuals within populations vary

-variation is heritable (genetic basis for traits)

-if organisms adapt to their environment as a result of natural selection,  then:

-processes observed in populations today must have occurred in the past (uniformitarianism)

University of Arkansas

ANTH 1013 – Intro to Biological Anthropology


-environmental change

-competition for limited resources

-if this branching pattern explains the diversity of living organisms, then lots  of time is required (deep time)

Darwin’s hypotheses in a nutshell: 

-the earth is old and is in constant flux (or change); the environment is  constantly changing and populations adapt that change

Challenges to Darwin’s theories

-the special place of humans in nature – human biology is distinct from  everything else

-the perfect fit of organisms to their environment

-teleology: the apparent “design” of organisms

-special creation and the immutability (fixity) of species  

-age of earth

Special creation and teleology

-the apparent perfect “design” of organisms

-making reference to purpose – goal oriented (teleology)

-the Greek word telos means “in”, “goal”, or “purpose”  

-the world is in perfect harmony

-since creation is perfect, extinction is impossible

-Paley (natural theology)

-the watchmaker metaphor: “the craftsman who made the world” (Mayr)

The immutability (fixity) of species

-Plato’s essentialism: a belief that things have a set of unchanging  characteristics that make them what they are – variation among things is an  unimportant deviation from the “essence”

-variation is unimportant

-emphasis on constancy and discontinuity  

-focus is on “gaps” between species

-no change in forms is possible, since it would require a change in the “essence”

University of Arkansas

ANTH 1013 – Intro to Biological Anthropology


Essentialism is inconsistent with evolution

-prior to the 1830s, most naturalists professed the following essentialist  beliefs:

-species are composed of similar individuals sharing the same essence

-species are separated from one another by well-defined

discontinuities (species are easy to tell apart)

-species are constant through time (i.e. fixed, immutable) -there are stringent limitations to the possible variation of any one species

Archbishop Ussher (1650): young earth

-annals of the old testament, deduced from the first origin of the world -said that the earth was created in 4004 BC (approx. 6,000 years old)

Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778): cataloged essences

-published Systema Naturae in 1735

-cataloger of nature

-father of taxonomy and systematics

-created Linnaean hierarchy: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus,  species

Carolus Linnaeus hierarchical patterns in nature reveal the divine  plan of creation, not evolution

-strict essentialist, believed in the fixity of species:

-“we count as many species as different forms were created in the beginning”

-focused on the gaps between species

-the word “species” is derived from the Latin word, specere, which means, “to see”

The French revolution: Georges Cuvier (1769-1832)

-embraced extinction

-proposed catastrophism: different floods wiped out creation, followed by  newer, better creations – today’s creation (Genesis) is the latest and best -recognized that different animals occur in different strata, or layers of rock -radical – challenged idea that creation is perfect

University of Arkansas

ANTH 1013 – Intro to Biological Anthropology


Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829)

-created the term “biology”

-proposed one of the first evolutionary hypotheses:

-inheritance of acquired characteristics: “vital essences” – sense need through use, change the form and pass on to offspring -first serious theoretical attempt to explain mechanism of


-interaction between organism and environment

-Lamarck’s theory that acquired characteristics can be passed to offspring -example: short-necked giraffes stretched to reach higher into trees for food, and their necks grew longer – acquired trait passed on to offspring born with longer necks  

French influence on English thinking: Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802) -expressed ideas of evolution and transmutation of species long before  Charles Darwin

Changing perspectives: Charles Lyell (1797-1875)

-known as the ‘father of modern geology’

-composed Principles of Geology (1830-1833)

Charles Lyell: influences on Darwin

-uniformitarianism: geological processes at work today (erosion, volcanism,  uplift, etc.) were also at work in the past

-emphasizes the continuity of process throughout time

-allows you to infer the past by identifying the features produced by current processes

-to account for all of the geological changes recorded in the earth’s rocks requires a lot of time: deep time


• One explanation for the changes that 19th century naturalists saw in  the fossil record was that periodic natural disasters caused many  species in an area to go extinct. This idea is called: catastrophism

• Which of the following philosophical perspectives suggested that the  natural world was created with a purpose? (i.e. from a “template” or  “blueprint”) – teleology

University of Arkansas

ANTH 1013 – Intro to Biological Anthropology


• Which of the following types of inheritance did Lamarck argue was a  mechanism for producing evolutionary change in organisms? – inheritance of acquired characteristics  

• According to archbishop Ussher, the earth is how old? – 6,000 years  

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