Be an anthropologist exercise 1

Be an Anthropologist Exercise: Physical and Cultural Anthropology Due Most people, even today, find the ideas supporting evolution to be demeaning, limiting, or sacrilegious. After all, evolution reminds us all that we may be dominant, we may be smart, and we may have great potential, but we are all still animals that have evolved into the human being we are today. How we look, think, feel, believe, interact, and all of the things that make us the species that we are, studying this is the goal of anthropology. Anthropology is literally the story of us; all of mankind. As often as many people would like to think that they are the driving force behind their own existence, it is, in fact, evolution that is artist that creates the design. As much as we would like to think that we control our environment we are still subject to the influence of the natural environment upon our entire species. Evolution can be easily defined as the traits and characteristics, inside and out, that took us from our non-human ancestry to the modern beings we are today. As a matter of fact, we are, technically, still evolving.(Parker, 2009) By studying these changes anthropologists can attempt to track the history of human evolution in hopes of being able to understand our origins, in order to understand our present. Alan Mann, a physical anthropologist at Princeton University, has focused his research on the study of fossil bones, specifically teeth. He has studied the dentition of, both, australopithecines and Neanderthals as a means of better understanding human development. There has been a long accepted theory that Neanderthals were slow-witted, cavemen, that may have lived at the same time as Cro-Magnon, but went extinct and have no direct relation to modern man. By studying the teeth and comparing them he hoped to prove that theory wrong. He believed that Neanderthals were much more competent and capable than previously credited. In 2011 researchers determined, through, DNA testing, that not only did Neanderthal’s not, simply, go extinct they, in fact, mated with early man. One to 4 percent of the human genome, with no African roots, today comes from the Neanderthals.(Patel, 2011) Physical anthropology is not the only way that human beings can be studied. Under the umbrella of anthropology the disciplines include, linguistics, which studies the evolution of languages, archaeology, which studies tools, architecture, and, literally, digs into the human history, and lastly, cultural anthropology. Cultural anthropology, essentially, does exactly what its name would suggest; they study the cultures of humanity and social structures of all living peoples. The specific research topics a cultural anthropologist might explore are all of the facets of the human experience; everything from irrigation works to studying treatment of illness, holiday celebrations, and religious or spiritual beliefs. Cultural anthropologists, also called socio-cultural anthropology, do not spend a lot of time in a laboratory. They study humanity through “ participant observation,” which simply means that they may immerse themselves in the culture and participate in the traditions, ceremonies, and the day to day living of the given society as am means for understanding the culture.(” What do anthropologists,” 2013) Religion is a fantastic way to research human culture, because religion can have patterns, traditions, values, and behaviors that provide much knowledge on how they affect society.(” Religion and culture,” 2013) The major differences between physical and cultural anthropology is rather obvious by their names. Physical anthropologists rely on the information gained from the physical, while cultural anthropologists focuses on seeing man as they live, behave, and function within society. During the research for this assignment I discovered a tidbit of information that I, simply, never was aware of before. As human brains evolved to larger potentials it required the braincase to become larger as well, this caused the shortening of the “ dental arcade,” which is why there is not enough room for the wisdom teeth to grow in forcing most adults to have them removed. Mann called this occurrence a, “ scar of human evolution.” (Patel, 2011) I found discovering this new knowledge to be quite interesting and inspiring. Ultimately, anthropology has the means via its multiple disciplines, to find the answers to the questions of human origin, human evolution, and how cultures, languages, and religions, also, evolve over time. We are a part of this world, this natural environment, just as the plants and animals that have evolved along with us. Understanding our genetic evolutionary history, both, inside and out, is an ideal way for us to truly comprehend ourselves as the amazing animals that humanity represents. The beauty of evolution is that it is a continuous process, adaptation, and changes may occur, but it will never be finished. It is fascinating to think what the anthropologists of the far distant future will say of us, after all, they might be, evolutionarily speaking, quite different, in some ways, from modern mankind we are today. References Parker, M. A. (2009). Introducing anthropology. (4th ed.). McGraw Hill Companies. Patel, U. (2011, January 24). Anthropologist mann builds body of evidence with evolution studies. Retrieved from http://www. princeton. edu/main/news/archive/S29/56/19A00/index. xml? section= featured Religion and culture. (2013). Retrieved from http://web. mesacc. edu/dept/d10/asb/religion/ What do anthropologists study?. (2013). Retrieved from http://www. wm. edu/as/anthropology/undergraduate/whatwestudy/index. php