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Chapter 1, Introduction
Key Terms
The taxonomic family to which humans belong;
also includes other, now extinct, bipedal
Members of the family Hominidae.
On two feet. Walking habitually on two legs is
the single most distinctive feature of the family
A group of organisms that can interbreed to
produce fertile offspring. Members of one
species cannot mate with members of other
species to produce fertile offspring.
A member of the order of mammals Primates
which includes prosimians, monkeys, apes,
and humans.
All aspects of human adaptation, including
technology, traditions, language, religion,
marriage patterns, and social roles. A set of
learned behaviors transmitted from one
generation to the next by nonbiological means.
A change in the genetic structure of a
population. The term is also frequently used to
refer to the appearance of a new species.
World view
General cultural orientation or perspective
shared by members of a society.
Biocultural evolution
The mutual, interactive evolution of human
biology and culture; the concept that biology
makes culture possible and that developing
culture influences the direction of biological
Functional response of organisms or
populations to the environment. Adaptation
results from evolutionary change, specifically
as a result of natural selection.
The field of inquiry that studies human culture
and evolutionary aspects of human biology;
includes cultural anthropology, archaeology,
linguistics, and physical (or biological)
Detailed descriptive studies of human
societies. In cultural anthropology, an
ethnography is traditionally the study of a nonWestern society.
Objects or materials made or modified for use
by hominids. The earliest artifacts tend to be
tools made of stone or, occasionally, bone.
Material culture
The physical manifestations of human
activities; includes tools, art, and structures.
The interdisciplinary approach to the study of
earlier hominids—their chronology, physical
structure, archaeological remains, habitats, etc.
Measurement of human body parts. When
osteologists measure skeletal elements, the
term osteometry is often used.
The study of gene structure and action and the
patterns of inheritance of traits from parent to
offspring. Genetic mechanisms are the
underlying foundation for evolutionary change.
The study of the biology and behavior of
nonhuman primates (prosimians, monkeys,
and apes).
The study of skeletal material. Human
osteology focuses on the interpretation of the
skeletal remains of past groups.
Forensic anthropology
An applied anthropological approach dealing
with legal matters. Physical anthropologists
work with coroners and others in the
identification and analysis of human remains.
The branch of osteology that studies the
evidence of disease and injury in human
skeletal (or, occasionally, mummified) remains.
A body of knowledge gained through
observation and experimentation; from the
Latin scientia, meaning “knowledge.”
Relying on experiment or observation; from the
Latin empiricus, meaning “experienced.”
Scientific method
A research method whereby a problem is
identified, a hypothesis is stated, and that
hypothesis is tested through collection and
analysis of data. If the hypothesis is verified, it
becomes a theory.
Facts from which conclusions can be drawn;
scientific information. Quantitatively In a
manner involving measurements of quantity
and including such properties as size, number,
and capacity.
A provisional explanation of a phenomenon.
Hypotheses require verification.
Scientific testing
The precise repetition of an experiment or
expansion of observed data to provide
verification; the procedure by which
hypotheses and theories are verified, modified,
or discarded.
A broad statement of scientific relationships or
underlying principles that has been at least
partially verified.
Viewing other cultures from the inherently
biased perspective of one’s own culture.
Ethnocentrism often results in cultures being
seen as inferior to one’s own.
A set of relationships in which all components
fall along a single integrated spectrum. All life
respects a single biological continuum.