Biological Anthropology

Biological anthropology is the study of human biological variation and evolution. Biological anthropologists seek to document and explain the patterning of biological variation among contemporary human populations, trace the evolution of our lineage through time in the fossil record, and provide a comparative perspective on human uniqueness by placing our species in the context of other living primates. Students concentrating in biological anthropology are advised to take a course in statistics, as well as one or more advanced courses in biological sciences.

Under special circumstances, students may petition the Anthropology faculty to substitute a course from another department or program to count for the Anthropology major. The petition should be submitted to the Chair, along with a copy of the syllabus for the substitute course and a list of the student's major courses. The petition must be approved by a vote of the Anthropology Department faculty.

ANTH 06

Introduction to Biological Anthropology

The origin of our species has long been a topic of deep curiosity for humans. In this course, we will look at the scientific evidence for the origin and evolution of Homo sapiens. This course will use data from evolutionary theory, primatology, comparative anatomy, genetics, and paleontology to understand the latest hypotheses regarding human evolution and modern human behavioral biology.

(BIOL) Dist: SCI.

ANTH 12.04

Your Inner Chimpanzee

Chimpanzees and bonobos are the nearest living relatives to humans and provide a critical counterpoint for understanding the potential uniqueness of human behaviors. This course will address the history of using chimpanzees and bonobos as models of human evolution, examine landmark case studies in primate language, violence, reproduction, and tool use, and discuss the socio-political role of chimpanzees and bonobos in medicine, conservation, and art.

(BIOL) Dist: SCI.

ANTH 12.18

Anthropology and the Forensic Sciences

Forensic anthropology is the application of the science of anthropology and its subfields, including Biological (physical) Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology (Ethnology), and Archeology, in a legal setting. Traditionally the forensic anthropologist will assist law enforcement agencies in the retrieval and identification of unidentified human remains. This course will introduce the student to various anthropological sub-disciplines used in the fields of forensics, including: (1) search for clandestine burials; (2) excavation and retrieval of human remains; (3) identification of human remains (sex, age, race, cause of death, and pathology); (4) handling of evidence; (5) interaction with law enforcement agencies; (6) presentation of data, results and evidence; (7) review of forensic and anthropological case studies; and (8) guest lectures.

(ARCH, BIOL) Dist: SCI

ANTH 20

Primate Evolution and Ecology

Humans are primates. The biology of our species cannot be fully understood outside of this context. This course offers a broad survey of living nonhuman primate diversity. The physical, behavioral, and ecological attributes of each of the major groups of primates will be discussed. Emphasis will be placed on traits relating to diet, locomotion, growth, mating, and social systems. Students will gain a comparative perspective on humankind.

(BIOL) Dist: SCI.

ANTH 25

Primate Biomechanics

This course is an introduction to the physical principles and musculoskeletal anatomies that underlie primate behavior, including especially primate locomotion and diet. We will study basic mechanics, bone biology, soft tissue and skeletal anatomy, primate behavioral diversity, and the primate fossil record in order to address why bones are shaped the way they are, and how scientists reconstruct behavior from fossils.  Emphasis will be on primate locomotion, including the origins and evolution of human bipedalism.

(BIOL)

ANTH 30

Hunters and Gatherers

Foraging peoples are often portrayed as ecological relicts and therefore instructive models for understanding the selective pressures that gave rise to the human condition. Such a premise has distinct strengths and weaknesses, and a central goal of this class is to explore the evolution of this view in the popular media and the social and biological sciences. This course will focus on populations in tropical habitats and emphasize cross-cultural variation in diet, foraging practices, technology, residence patterns, reproduction, and cooperation.

(BIOL) Dist: SOC; WCult: NW

ANTH 38

Human Behavioral Ecology

The human condition is characterized by immense biological and behavioral variation. The extent to which such variation is adaptive is topic a great importance and controversy. Current research in the field of human behavioral ecology reflects a growing interaction between the social and biological sciences. The objectives of this course are to critically examine the origin and development of this discipline and to survey the physiological and behavioral ways that humans interact with their environment.

(BIOL) Dist: SCI.

ANTH 40

Human Functional Anatomy

Anatomy is a science of nomenclature; it provides a universal language for understanding how and why form supports function. Such a biomechanical conceptual framework can inform our understanding of human biology. Yet the anatomical novelties that characterize modern humans are best appreciated when contextualized against living nonhuman primates and the hominin fossil record. Student grades will be based on a mastery of concepts from lectures and labs featuring cadavers, skeletal materials, models, and casts.

(BIOL) Dist: SLA.

ANTH 41

Human Evolution

The fossil record demonstrates that humans evolved from an extinct ape that lived in Africa more than 5 million years ago. Paleoanthropology is the branch of biological anthropology that seeks to document and explain the evolution of our lineage using paleontological and archaeological data. This course provides a survey of human evolution in light of current scientific debates in paleoanthropology. Emphasis will be placed on the use of bones and teeth to infer the biology and behavior of prehistoric species. Prerequisite: Anthropology 6 or permission of the instructor.

(BIOL) Dist: SCI.

ANTH 42

Gross Anatomy: Scars of Medical Evolution

Human anatomy is important for medical professionals, artists, and anthropologists. This dissection-based course will explore the human body and its many imperfections. The deficiencies of our bodies —clumsy compromises in our teeth, feet, backs, bottoms, and birthings— are chronic clinical concerns that reflect our evolutionary history. Taking a cue from Wilton Krogman’s 1951 classic, Scars of Human Evolution, this course will demonstrate how and how far the human body fails by the standards of intelligent design.

(BIOL) Dist: SLA

ANTH 43

Human Osteology

Human osteology is an important component of biological anthropology, with applications in archaeology, paleontology, forensics, and medicine. This course is designed to acquaint students with the normal anatomy of the human skeleton. Our focus is the identification of isolated and fragmentary skeletal remains. Students are introduced to principles of bone growth and remodeling, biomechanics, morphological variation within and between populations, pathology, ancient DNA, taphonomy, and forensics. Practical techniques are developed in regular laboratory sessions. Prerequisite: Anthropology 6 or permission of the instructor.

(BIOL) Dist: SLA.

ANTH 62

Health and Disease in Evolutionary Perspective

This course explores how principles from biological anthropology can provide insight into human health and disease. This course also asks students to critically analyze prevailing medical concepts of 'normal' physiology and illness. We adopt a comparative approach to consider the evolutionary, physiological, and cultural bases of human health and disease by examining case studies in the following areas:

  • i) human diet and nutrition
  • ii) demography, life history, and reproduction
  • iii) pathogens, parasites, and immunity.

(BIOL) Dist: SCI.

ANTH 63

Biocultural Dimensions of Child Development

What is childhood? Is it a social construct or a distinct biological stage in human development? This course explores cross-cultural patterns of child development using the theoretical frameworks of human evolutionary ecology and biocultural anthropology.  Students will learn how nutritional, epidemiologic and social conditions shape developmental processes in infancy, childhood and adolescence. Students will also analyze children’s roles and economic contributions in a cross-cultural context, and examine contemporary global patterns of child health and disease.

(BIOL) Dist: INT or SCI; WCult: NW.

ANTH 64

Evolution of Pregnancy, Birth, and Babies

This course examines human universals and cross-cultural variation in pregnancy, birth, and infant development. In the first section, principles of life history theory and human reproductive ecology are introduced, and students will learn how assisted birth evolved in humans. In the second section, students will analyze expectations and systems of pregnancy, birth, and infant care in a cross-cultural context. Throughout the course, students will evaluate current controversies surrounding medical models of childbirth, breastfeeding, and co-sleeping.

(BIOL) Dist: INT or SCI.

ANTH 66

Human Biological Variation

How do human populations adapt to their local environments? What is more important for influencing human variation—genes or the environment? In this course you will learn about patterns of modern human biological variation as well as research methods employed by biological anthropologists to study these patterns. You will also learn important skills for all anthropologists, including hypothesis generation, study design, how to write a grant, and how to be an effective reviewer.

(BIOL) Dist: SCI.

ANTH 70

Experiencing Human Origins and Evolution

This course will examine current evidence for human origins and evolution, with a particular emphasis on South Africa. Students will learn and experience firsthand how fossils, archaeological sites, and living model systems are used collectively to reconstruct and interpret the path and circumstances by which we became human. A course extension in South Africa will be offered to enable direct experience with the sites, organisms, and challenges discussed in class. (Pending approval)

ANTH 74

The Human Spectrum

Contemporary foraging peoples are often viewed as ecological relicts and therefore instructive models for understanding the selective pressures that gave rise to the human condition. The objective of this course is to critically evaluate this enduring concept by examining the spectrum of human interactions with tropical habitats. We will also evaluate the basis of recent popular trends – the paleo diet, raw foodism, barefoot running, parent-child co-sleeping – that emphasize the advantages of a “natural” pre-agricultural lifestyle.

(BIOL) Dist: SOC; WCult: NW.

ANTH 76

The Evolution of Upright Walking

Culminating experience.

This is an advanced course designed to explore in-depth both the historical and current understandings of human bipedalism. This course is reading-intensive, with an average of 5 primary journal papers assigned per meeting. We will investigate hypotheses for why bipedalism evolved, the form of locomotion bipedalism evolved from, and the fossil evidence for early hominin bipedality in the ardipithecines and australopithecines.

(BIOL) Dist: SCI.