Biological Anthropology / Physical anthropology

Syllabus Section 1 .3 The main branches of Anthropology Their importance and scope


Biological Anthropology is the branch of Anthropology that studies humans as an organism that is biological. Like the name suggests, it investigates the physical and biological aspects of human beings. Biological Anthropology starts with the study of the origins and evolution of human beings and examines their diversity. It also analyses the biosocial adaptability of various human populations that live in various environments, both in terms of geography and ecology. The understanding of various areas that comprise Biological Anthropology will help us to understand how they deal humans’ evolution as well as variations.

Paul Broca defines Biological Anthropology as “the science whose objective is the study of humanity considered as a whole in its parts and in relationship to the rest of the nature”.

Meaning and Scope of Biological Anthropology

Anthropology of the biological kind is also known by the name of physical anthropology optional examines the human biology. The field of biological anthropology is the study of the biological basis and evolution in human species. It is concerned with studying the comparative study of past, present and the future of human beings in a biological perspective the point of. It also analyses the evolution of biological traits of various human populations in different ecological and geographical zones. Biological anthropology searches for scientific evidence in its research and sources. In doing so, it applies some general biological principles and draws on the results in physiology and anatomy embryology, palaeontology, zoology and more.

To conduct a comprehensive investigation of this type there are a variety of fields of specialization within biological anthropology such that include:

  • Palaeoanthropology
  • Primatology
  • Human Genetics
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Serology
  • Dermatoglyphics
  • Anthropometry and Craniometry
  • Paleopathology
  • Bio-archaeology
  • Neuro- Anthropology
  • Biomedical Anthropology

Paleoanthropologyearlier is also known as human palaeontology. It involves the research of the human ancestry and development, especially when it is recorded on fossil records. Palaeoanthropologists are interested understanding the evolution of human beings by using fossil evidence. They collaborate with archaeologists as well as geologists, in locating fossil remains from all parts of the globe. The osteology knowledge helps researchers to study, quantify and reconstruct these remains to determine the human evolution process and determine the possible line of descent that could lead from our ancestors up to our current form, Homo sapiens.

Human Palaeontology also known as Palaeoanthropology: Human Palaeontology studies fossil evidences from human skeletons from various stages, and thus reconstructs the evolution of humankind. This aids to classify and analysis of fossils from different phases to identify the connection between modern humans and their ancestral ancestors.

Primatology is the study of primates, the species of which monkeys, prosimians, apes and humans are part of. It is focused on the ways in which the behaviour of non-human primates is comparable to human behaviour. The anatomy of nonhuman primates, specifically monkeys and apes are examined to determine how they differ from these primates and human.

This kind of research helps to understand the evolution of with human primate species and other primates as a result of the striking similarities between humans, monkeys, and apes.

Human Genetics:

Human genetics is a branch of anthropology based on biological processes that deal with inheritance and variations. It studies the structure and function of genes along with the patterns that govern the the inheritance of traits from parents to offspring.

Forensic Anthropology

Genetic and Morphological variations among human beings aid biological anthropologists in determine criminals, individuals as well as victims of mishaps and natural disasters, etc. The anthropology branch that is specialized in this area is known as Forensic Anthropology. It focuses on legal matters from an anthropological viewpoint. It involves the use of paleopathology, osteology, archaeology and other anthropological methods to identify human remains from the past or for the reconstruction of the events that led to the death of a person, and also to fulfil legal requirements.

The expertise that is gained from Forensic Anthropology is used to address problems related to legal and criminal matters. Forensic Anthropologists are sought by authorities such as police to locate bodies of victims killed in crime or missing persons who have died in catastrophes.

serology It researches the blood group. It examines plasma and other red cell enzymes. In reality the term is typically used to describe the identification of serum antibodies. Tests for serological quality are also employed in forensics, specifically with regard to the evidence of Ethics Integrity and Aptitude

Dermatoglyphic is the study of the skin ridges that appear on the fingers’ palms, toes and soles. Fingerprint patterns aren’t solely used for Forensic investigation, but also for genetics to determine the differences between two groups.

Axonometry’s the sub-branches of anthropometry that deals with the measuring of the craniums.

New Areas of Biological Anthropology

  • Paleopathology is the study of diseases in antiquity. It examines the signs of injuries and diseases in human bones. In addition, it studies the pathogens that can be seen within bones or in soft tissue that is mummified. It also focuses on nutritional issues, changes in size or changes in the morphology of bones with time, signs of physical trauma or visit our mains site of UPSC MAINS REVISION COURSE 2021
  • bio-archaeology is the blend of osteology of the human body or studying human bone with archaeology to research the human bones and their relationship to the site of their recovery, in order to comprehend the human population of the past.
  • Neuro-Anthropology is the study of human brain development and culture as the brain’s adaptation to environment and neurological changes.



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