Anthropology | Bioanthropology
B200 | 5212 | Wiley


B200 is an introductory course in biological anthropology. Biological
anthropology is concerned with biological variation among contemporary
humans, the place of humans in the natural world, and the evolutionary
history of our species, Homo sapie. It broadly considers the question
of what it means to be a human from a biological and scientific
perspective. This large endeavor requires diverse approaches:
biological anthropologists study genetics, the fossil record of human
evolution, non-human primates (the order of mammals to which humans
are most closely related), and the biology of contemporary human
populations. All of these are linked by evolutionary theory, which
provides us with a way of understanding why and how human populations
vary and why and how our species and its ancestors have changed over
time. Evolutionary theory stresses the importance of the environment
as the driving force that leads to biological change, and thus we will
focus on human adaptations  both those that characterize Homo
sapiens, and those that contribute to human biological variation.

First we will do an overview of evolutionary theory and basic
genetics, leading up to the modern synthesis of Darwin's ideas and
Mendelian genetics. We will then turn to an examination of human
biological variation, including the concept of race, genetic
adaptations and variation that derives from physiological plasticity.
Next we will consider humans in relation to members of the primate
order. We will finish with a review of the fossil record that
documents the natural history of our species. The focus will be on the
emergence of the key adaptations that characterize Homo sapiens:
bipedalism and the large brain.

Requirements: Two in-class midterm examinations (25% each) and a
non-cumulative final examination, (25%). No early exams will be given;
make-up exams will only be given with an official written excuse
indicating a dire emergency. Emergencies MUST be communicated to the
instructor BEFORE the scheduled exam. In addition there will be 5 out
of class assignments that will include essays on the readings and
hands-on laboratory exercises. Each is worth 5% of your grade.