Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course of Physical Anthropology seeks to increase the understanding of how the evolution of primates.
The course focuses in particular on the genus Homo and the relations occurring between biological and cultural aspects, especially at the middle and upper Paleolithic.
In addition to the aspects of macroevolutionary, part of the course and 'dedicated to the microevolution of Homo sapiens: the final part of the course of biodemography, is dedicated to the analysis of the micro-variations of the populations in the last 3 - 4 centuries.
No prerequisite is required. The knowledge of spreadsheets can facilitate the understanding of some of the micro-demographic models part of biodemography.
Course contents summary
The purpose of Physical Anthropology is the naturalistic study of the Homo genus, considered within the framework of zoological systematics and issues related to its origins and variations over time and space.
The first part of the course will deal with topics concerning the development of the scientific method and the main paradigms that have guided the comprehension and interpretation of natural phenomena over time. Special emphasis will be given to the genesis and historical development of evolutionary theories and the current debate surrounding them.
A number of lectures will be dedicated to the hereditary nature of the gene pool and to human anatomy.
The appearance and evolution of the Homo genus and its predecessors are followed both through the analysis of anatomic-functional changes of individual apparatuses and through the analysis of fossil finds. The global nature of the influence of evolutionary forces will constantly be emphasised during the analytical treatment; the environmental context in which evolution takes place and the increasingly important contribution made by culture to the evolution of the human species is also considered.
The development of sciences and the historical development of evolutionary theorie. Fossilisation and fossil dating principles. Osteometry and anthropometry. The actual primates.
Evolution of apparatuses and functions: adaptation and homeostatis processes.
Communication and language.
Analysis of the series of fossil finds.
Sahelanthropus. Orrorin. Ardipithecus ramidus.
Australopithecus (anamensis, afarensis, africanus, gahri). Kenyanthropus platyops.
Paranthropus aethieopicus, robustus, bosei.
Homo habilis/rudolfensi, ergaster, heidelbergensis, neanderthalensis, sapiens.
Anatomically modern Homo sapiens; hypotheses regarding his origin. Overview: facts and hypotheses.
G.BIONDI, O.RICKARDS - Umani da sei milioni di anni - Carocci ed. Roma (2009)
Altri testi di approfondimento:
SPEDINI G. - ANTROPOLOGIA EVOLUZIONISTICA, ed. Piccin
MALLEGNI F. - Come eravamo: l'evoluzione umana alla luce delle più recenti acquisizioni. LTU Ed. Pisa (2002)
KLEIN R. G. - IL CAMMINO DELL'UOMO. ANTROPOLOGIA CULTURALE BIOLOGIA, ed. Zanichelli
We use multimedia presentations and free software for the construction of phylogenetic trees. Additional copies of skulls shown to illustrate the evolution of the genus Homo.
Assessment methods and criteria
Oral examination with recognition of the copies of the skulls and skeletal material through which discuss the physical evolution of the Primates.