Anthropology: Origins of Civilization
Exam 1 Study Guide
Use your class notes, lecture PowerPoints, textbook (Understanding Humans: An Introduction to Physical
Anthropology and Archaeology 11th Edition), and class films to answer these questions and study for the
What is Anthropology?
• What is relativism, and why is it important to anthropology?
• What is ethnocentrism?
• List the four subfields of anthropology, and describe each one.
Anthropological field methods
• Give some examples of anthropological fieldwork in each of the four subfields (cultural anthropology,
archaeology, linguistics, and biological anthropology).
Evolutionary theory, natural selection, and heredity• Describe the theories of catastrophism and uniformitarianism, and explain how they contributed to our
modern day understanding of evolution.
• Define natural selection, and give an example of how it works.
• Who were Darwin and Wallace?
• What did Gregor Mendel contribute to our understanding of evolution?
• Explain the difference between phenotype and genotype.
• What are the four forces of evolution, and how does each one contribute to evolution?
• If sickle-cell anemia is a lethal disease, why is the gene frequency for sickle-shaped cells so high in parts
of Africa, India, and the Middle East? Your answer should include an explicit discussion of natural selection,
malaria, mosquitos, and land-clearing practices.
Modern human variation
• What is the difference between long-term adaptation and acclimatization? Give an example of each.
• Explain how and why human skin color varies. A good answer will discuss how UV rays, melanin, vitamin
D, and folate determine human skin color. (Hint: watch the TED talk by Jablonski to review.)
• How do Bergman’s Rule and Allen’s Rule account for variation in human body size and shape?
• How have some human populations adapted to life at high altitudes (biologically and culturally)?
• Why are the descendants of some Northern European and African pastoralists lactose tolerant?
Race and racism
• According to anthropology, what is wrong with popular understandings of “race?”
• What were the theories of “monogenesis” and “polygenesis” about?
• Who was Franz Boas, and why was he important?
• Explain why there is no biological basis to race. Your answer should include a discussion of genetics and
the history of human classification.
• How were the racial categories of “Hutu” and “Tutsi” created in Rwanda, and what were the results?
• What is hypodescent?
• How is race in Latin America different from race in the United States? What does this tell us about the
nature of racial stereotypes?
• Choose a popular “theory of race,” and use anthropological concepts to explain why it is false.
Macroevolution (review your notes from the short film we watched for class)
• What is macroevolution?
• What is the difference between homologies and analogies in evolution?
• How does the study of primitive (or ancestral) and derived characteristics help us understand evolution?
• Define the biological species concept and the ecological species concept. How are they different?
• What is adaptive radiation? What kind of events can lead to an adaptive radiation of species?
• Why are new fossil discoveries important for understanding macroevolution?
Primates and primate behavior
• What are the major divisions of the primate order?
• List and describe the key physical and behavioral characteristics of primates that separate them from
• What are the basic distinguishing traits of apes and monkeys?
• Review your notes from the film about primates. What evidence does it present for and against apes