Chapter 1, Introduction Key Terms
HominidaeThe taxonomic family to which humans belong; also includes other, now extinct, bipedal relatives. HominidsMembers of the family Hominidae.
BipedallyOn two feet. Walking habitually on two legs is the single most distinctive feature of the family Hominidae. SpeciesA 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.
PrimateA member of the order of mammals Primates which includes prosimians, monkeys, apes, and humans. CultureAll 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.
EvolutionA change in the genetic structure of a population. The term is also frequently used to refer to the appearance of a new species. World viewGeneral cultural orientation or perspective shared by members of a society.
Biocultural evolutionThe mutual, interactive evolution of human biology and culture; the concept that biology makes culture possible and that developing culture influences the direction of biological evolution. AdaptationFunctional response of organisms or populations to the environment. Adaptation results from evolutionary change, specifically as a result of natural selection.
AnthropologyThe field of inquiry that studies human culture and evolutionary aspects of human biology; includes cultural anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, and physical (or biological) anthropology. EthnographiesDetailed descriptive studies of human societies. In cultural anthropology, an ethnography is traditionally the study of a non-Western society.
ArtifactsObjects 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.
PaleoanthropologyThe interdisciplinary approach to the study of earlier hominids—their chronology, physical structure, archaeological remains, habitats, etc. AnthropometryMeasurement of human body parts. When osteologists measure skeletal elements, the term osteometry is often used.
GeneticsThe 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. PrimatologyThe study of the biology and behavior of nonhuman primates (prosimians, monkeys, and apes).
OsteologyThe study of skeletal material. Human osteology focuses on the interpretation of the skeletal remains of past groups. Forensic anthropologyAn applied anthropological approach dealing with legal matters. Physical anthropologists work with coroners and others in the identification and analysis of human remains.
PaleopathologyThe branch of osteology that studies the evidence of disease and injury in human skeletal (or, occasionally, mummified) remains. ScienceA body of knowledge gained through observation and experimentation; from the Latin scientia, meaning “knowledge.”
EmpiricalRelying on experiment or observation; from the Latin empiricus, meaning “experienced.” Scientific methodA 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.
DataFacts 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. HypothesisA provisional explanation of a phenomenon. Hypotheses require verification.
Scientific testingThe 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. TheoryA broad statement of scientific relationships or underlying principles that has been at least partially verified.
EthnocentricViewing 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. ContinuumA set of relationships in which all components fall along a single integrated spectrum. All life respects a single biological continuum.