Physical Anthropology

A student holds up a physical specimenPhysical anthropology, also known as biological anthropology, is the subdiscipline of anthropology that studies human evolution and variation.  Specific emphasis is on mechanisms of biological evolution, genetic inheritance, human adaptability, worldwide genetic and physical variation, primate anatomy and behavior, and paleoanthropology.  The living and the dead are of equal concern to physical anthropologists.  Remains of the dead may be recent, as in forensic anthropology, prehistoric, as in bioarchaeology, or ancient, as in hominid and primate fossils of the past sixty million years.  For living groups, physical anthropologists focus on genetic variation, human ecology and nutrition, growth and development, and adaptation to environmental stress.  The geographic breadth of the field is global and the temporal perspective is Cenozoic era.  Faculty in this department focus primarily on dental anthropology, forensic anthropology, and bioarchaeology.