Historically, evolution used to be defined as the supposed changes that a sure species was predetermined to experience with time. It can also also be referred to the net cumulative or directional exchange in the characteristics of populations or organisms over a long length of time. It may also be termed as an necessary and irreversible process that takes place in time giving upward thrust to increased variety of organisms.
Definition of bodily anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity or humankind. Physical anthropology also recognized as biological anthropology refers to the scientific study of evolutionary adjustments in humankind as well as biological variations between different groups of human beings including their genetic differences (Peregrine, 2002). This study focuses on all aspects of humanity that is both past and present human biology. The key concept in this branch of anthropology is the basic fact that any human being has an individual evolutionary history that has influenced their present being both genetically and environmentally.
Some of the general ways physical anthropologists investigate evolution
Physical anthropologists have different research methods of evolution including the forensic anthropology , systematic observation, scientific methods of study that involve identifying problems, gathering evidence, testing hypothesis and developing theories that explain the study (Peregrine, 2002). They study organisms by examining their past survival mechanism through the examination of organs, bones, reproduction, primatology, genetics, paleoanthropology, bioarcheology among others. Other concepts studied in this field include evolutionary theories, human biological variations, human’s place in nature and their adaptation which eventually shapes behavior, growth and development.
Describe the research project and its significance in our understanding of evolution
The author in the research project undertook a research involving small groups of human with an aim of studying microevolution (RICE, 1985). It targeted students as a platform where they could learn the skills of physical anthropologists more precisely collection and analysis of data. The research findings are based on simulated data representing ancestral populations. The importance of this study in understanding evolution is that enables a student comprehend the contemporary human conditions from a biological perspective, which is the main aim of the research project. The study simplifies the concept of population genetics in an integrated fashion (RICE, 1985). Most importantly, it allows students in this specialty the opportunity to carry out laboratory experiments at low costs with an aim of understanding contemporary human evolution.
Definition of cultural anthropology
Sociocultural anthropology also known as cultural anthropology is a branch of anthropology that is concerned with the study of history, origins and development of culture which includes ethnology, archeology and ethnography (Monaghan, 2010). Anthropologists in this field examine and investigate social practices and patterns across the diverse human cultures with an aim of identifying how people organize themselves, live and create meaning mainly through the study of sexuality, race, gender, class and nationality.
Some of the general ways cultural anthropologists investigate evolution
Some of the general methods employed in this field of anthropology are ethnography which is a modern method of research at entails keeping accurate records of cultures and lifestyles of different people (Monaghan, 2010). Fieldwork methods such as observation, interviews, questionnaires, participant and non-participant observation, life histories, reflexivity, comparative methods, life histories among others are also employed in the study of human cultures.
Describe the research project and its significance in our understanding of evolution.
The research project by Elliot Spiro is a major contribution to the long going debate on cultural relativism (Spiro, 2012). The debate mainly concerns whether cultural relativism is cultural diversity and whether contemporary anthropology has only one kind of cultural relativism. Based on the study of cultural anthropology the study concentrates on the three different types of cultural relativism as understood by a cultural anthropologist with an aim of distinguishing them (Spiro, 2012). The importance of this study in the understanding of evolution is the fact that it helps students understand the connection between cultural anthropological theories and cultural relativism. It enables a student avoid the fallacy caused by controversies and confusion of cultural relativism with the concept of cultural diversity or variability.
Comparison between physical anthropology and cultural anthropology
Physical anthropology and cultural anthropology are distinct study specialties in the broader discipline of anthropology. They however aim at advancing studies and findings that are focused on human kind. More precisely, they emphasize and focus on different aspects of human evolution and development (Wright, 1969). Cultural anthropology examines cultures of different societies and people and an anthropologist in this field focuses on aspects of family units, economic systems, political systems, religious beliefs and any other aspects inclined to the structure of the human society. Physical anthropology on the other hand, focuses on the biological development and evolution of the biology of human beings over a period of time. It is aimed at understanding the human evolution trough the study of adaptations of mankind to different environments and how it shapes and influences human development.
Another distinction between cultural and physical anthropology is the research methods employed in the two fields. Cultural anthropologists mainly employ participant observation in their research whereby they immerse and integrate themselves with a certain target group for an extended period of time with an aim of gaining first-hand information and knowledge of the specific aspects of culture in that particular group. Physical anthropologists on the other hand mainly employ research methods similar to those employed by paleontologists and biologists. They usually study fossil records, pre-historic evidence, genetics, and other primates in order to comprehend human evolution and physical development, in fact, it mostly takes place in laboratories.
In conclusion, the study of anthropology has proven to be of great important in understanding different aspects of human evolution. One of the most important and interesting concepts learnt and acquired from this study is the ability to use anthropology as a tool for analyzing contemporary challenges and issues in society today such as environmental racism, global health among others. Anthropological research is useful and valuable as it shapes individuals to become analytical when trying to understand current societal problems with an aim of providing viable solutions.
Monaghan, J., & Just, P. (2010). Social & cultural anthropology. New York: Sterling.
Peregrine, P. N., Ember, C. R., & Ember, M. (2002). Physical anthropology: Original readings in method and practice. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
RICE, P. C. (1985). The Study of Small Groups and Microevolution: A Project for Physical Anthropology. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 16(4), 294-301. doi:10.1525/aeq.1985.16.4.04x0403m
Spiro, M. E. (2012). Cultural Relativism and the Future of Anthropology. Rereading Cultural Anthropology, 124-151. doi:10.1215/9780822397861-011
Wright, H., & Rapport, S. B. (1969). Anthropology. New York: University Press.