Sociology Index


Human Ecology, Cultural Anthropology

Physical anthropology is the science of human zoology, evolution, and ecology. It is centred on the scientific study of the origins and development of human beings through analysis of fossil and skeletal remains.

Physical anthropology is a specialisation within the discipline of anthropology. Physical anthropology developed prior to the rise of Alfred Wallace and Charles Darwin's theory 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."

History of Physical Anthropology

As scientists began organizing species into genera and speculating on evolution, some turned their attention to humanity's relationship with other animals, especially the primates. Investigation of the anatomical differences between apes and humans began in 1699, when Edward Tyson, dissected both human beings and chimpanzees and pointed out their points of divergence in Orang-Outang, sive Homo sylvestris: or the anatomy of a pygmy compared to that of a monkey, an ape, and a man.

The founder of physical anthropology, is Johann Friedrich Blumenbach. Early physical anthropology is often marked by the tendency to conflate cultural and biological characteristics. Eighteenth and nineteenth century research into physical anthropology made unsupportable generalizations about human races, falling into two camps: monogenists like Blumenbach, who argued that all human beings shared a single origin in Adam and Eve; and polygenists, who argued for a different Adam and Eve for each race. The scala naturae is evident in the physical anthropology of Carl Linnaeus.

American Journal of Physical Anthropology
EDITOR: Clark Spencer Larsen, Ohio State University
The American Journal of Physical Anthropology is designed for the prompt publication of original and significant articles of human evolution and variation, including primate morphology, physiology, genetics, adaptation, growth, development, and behavior, present and past. It also publishes book reviews, technical reports, brief communications, and the abstracts and proceedings of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.
READERSHIP: Physical anthropologists paleontologists evolutionary biologists anatomists.
EDITOR’S NOTE The year 2000 marks the onset of the 21st century. In this transitional year, prominent physical anthropologists will provide brief reflections on our discipline, including what attracted them to it, and their views on the directions our discipline may pursue as we enter, in January 2001, the third millennium. Am J Phys Anthropol 113:287–292, 2000.
A View on the Science: Physical Anthropology at the Millennium
Tim D. White, Department of Integrative Biology and Laboratory for Human Evolutionary Studies, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, The University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720
A View on the Science: Physical Anthropology at the Millennium
MATT CARTMILL, Department of Biological Anthropology and Anatomy, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710
A View on the Science: Physical Anthropology at the Millennium
ALAN C. SWEDLUND, Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003-4805
A View on the Science: Physical Anthropology at the Millennium
ELWYN L. SIMONS, Duke Primate Center, Durham, NC 27705-5000

Canadian Association for Physical Anthropology: This web site is designed to represent our Association, as well as to provide information relevant to the discipline of Physical Anthropology, particularly as it is practiced in Canada. We have a large and dynamic membership that includes students, young scholars, and world leaders in this exciting field of research. I hope you will find here the information that you are looking for. If you are just visiting or if you have a serious interest in Physical Anthropology.