Exploring Biological Anthropology: The Essentials, 4th Edition
We are proud to introduce you to the fourth edition of Exploring Biological Anthropology. We wrote this book because we felt there was a great need for a new textbook that presents the core information, concepts, and theories of biological anthropology in a modern light. Biological anthropology was once called physical anthropology, because decades ago the field was mainly about human anatomy, human fossils, and the study of racial variation. Over the past forty years, the field has evolved into biological anthropology. Modern biological anthropology comprises the study of the fossil record and the human skeleton, the genetics of both individuals and populations, our primate relatives, human adaptation, and human behavior, among other topics.
This fourth edition of Exploring Biological Anthropology combines up-to-date coverage of the core material with a modern biological approach that includes fields that have become major areas of research by biological anthropologists over the past decade. This core-concepts version of the book is written especially for students needing to obtain a strong grounding in biological anthropology without some of the detail into which our original text delved.
We three coauthors conduct our research in the main areas of biological anthropology: the human fossil record ( Susan Antón), primate behavior and ecology (Craig Stanford), and human biology and the brain (John Allen). This has allowed us to provide a specialist approach to each of the broad divisions of the field covered by the text. We are biological anthropologists with extensive backgrounds in both biological and social sciences and are both teachers and researchers.
In a field changing as rapidly as human evolutionary science is today, we feel it is critical for active researchers to produce textbooks that serve the needs of students. In addition to the strong biological orientation of the book, we try to frame questions about humankind in light of our understanding of culture and the ways in which culture interacts with biology to create the template for human nature.
Undergraduate enrollment in introductory biological anthropology courses has increased sharply because biological anthropology has become one way to fulfill the basic natural science requirement at many colleges and universities. We believe the changing field and the new audience have created a need for a text such as this one, integrating traditional physical anthropology with a modern Darwinian framework and presented in a concise, clear format.
We have made an effort in the fourth edition to present a concise coverage of the core material of the field, while preserving a comprehensive coverage of certain traditionally important topics. For instance, we have included a feature on biomedical anthropology, a large feature (in Chapter 14) on the brain, and behavior and biology of modern people, from the study of foragers (hunter–gatherers) to that of the human psyche (evolutionary psychology). There is a discussion of the geological background for human paleontology (Chapter 9), and chapter sections on bioarcheology (Chapter 13) and forensic anthropology (Chapter 15). We have double-page features in many chapters to present information in a more visual way, and we have added new information to this edition in the form of new text and figures, as well as special features in some chapters.
In a field famous for intellectual disagreements over the meaning of fossils or interpretations of Darwinian theory, we’ve tried to present the accepted facts and concise descriptions of debates about evidence. There are places where, because of the introductory nature of the text, we have not delved deeply into the details of some debates, but we have nevertheless tried to balance multiple views of ongoing unresolved questions.
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