Anthropology 101 Study Guide Questions

  1. What is anthropology and what are its subfields?
    The holistic and integrative scientific study of the human species

    • Subfields:
    • 1. Cultural Anthropology
    • 2. Anthropological Linguistics
    • 3. Archeology
    • 4. Physical (Biological) Anthropology
  2. What is the scientific method?
    The process by which phenomena are explained through observation and the development and test of hypotheses.

    • 1. Induction - Developing a general explanation from specific observations
    • 2. Hypothesis - A testable explanation of a phenomena
    • 3. Deduction - The process of suggesting specific data that would be found if a hypothesis were true
    • 4. Theory - A hypothesis that has been well supported by evidence and experimental testing
  3. What are creation myths?
    A myth that explains the origin of the world and its inhabitants.
  4. Examples of Creation Myths
    The Ancient Hebrews - One told of an all-powerful Being who brought order to a chaotic world of water. Over six days he created, in succession, ligh; Heaven; the earth with its dry land, oceans, and plants; the sun, moon, and stars; aquatic animals, flying creatures, and land animals; and finally, in his own image, man and woman.

    The Maya - According to the Popol Vuh, the only thing that existed was the calm sea. The creators, K'ucumatz and Tepew, first made the earth, and then made animals. They then assigned each animal its own place to live in the newly created world. The creators ordered the animals to speak so that they might praise the creators for their work. The animals could not speak; so they decided to create people so they can speak. The first people, made of mud, could speak, buth they had no minds and dissolved in water. Then the creators made people out of wood who multiplied and spread across the earth. THey could speak but lacked blood and minds, and they did not remember the creators who made them. The creators ordered thtat they be destroyed. Birds plucked out their eyes, and jaguars devoured their woody flesh. Some of these wooden, nevertheless, managed to escape into the jungle, where all that remains of them today are the monkeys. According to the Maya, this is why monkeys ar similar to human beings. Finally, the fox, the coyote,the parrot, and the cow told the creators about the yellow and white corn that grew n the earth. The creators ground and mixed the yellow and white corn into a meal from whith they made the flesh and blood of the first true people. These people had blood and minds, and they worshiped the gods who created them and the world in which they lived.
  5. Why do F&P say that Darwin's theory is not a creation myth?
    To a scientist, a theory is a hypothesis that has demonstrably held up the most rigorous testing for so lon that it is a virtual certainty. Hypotheses that have been elevated to the status of a theory show us in a fundamental way how some aspect of the world works.
  6. Summarize the argument of "Teaching Theories: the Evolution Creation Controversy" by Root Burnstein and McEachron in P&B ch1.
    • Evolution qualifies as a valid scientific theory while creationism does not.
    • Evolutionary theory is not a religious explanation while creationism is.
    • They conclude only that evolution and creationism are two totally different sorts of explanations of nature. They should not be confused.
    • Evolution is the best scientific explanation of nature currently available, therefore it deserves to be taught as a scientific theory in science class.
    • Creationism, since it is not a scientific theory, should not be taught as science in science class.
  7. What do scientist use scientific theories for?
    A theory is good because it is useful and it is fruitful of new knowledge. Scientific theories are important because they give mankind knowlege of this world and the ability to act wisely in this world. The power of scientific theories rewults from the fact that they are correctable. They may be tested. Whether the theory may be right or wrong, these tests yeild new information about the world.
  8. What is Darwin's theory of natural selection, and why must you know that theory in order to understand Human Evolution?
    Natural Selection is in an interaction of the struggle for existence. The individuals that have more proginy will be selected by nature, and traits are created by the environment. Natural selection is the engine of evolution. Evolution is change over time. It is evolution based on relative reporductive success of individuals within a species due to the individual's adaptive fitness.
  9. What is being 'selected' by natural selection?
    The environment has chosen your species, who by chance are best adapted to environmental conditions are the most reproductively successful- that is, the produce the most offspring who survive- and so pass on their adaptive traits to more offspring.
  10. What is doing the natural selecting?
    The environments that the organisms are living in.
  11. Who was Alfred Russel Wallace?
    He travelled and collected plant samples in the Amazon basin in association with Henry Walter Bates (1842-52) and was similarly employed the Malay Archipelago and the Spice Islands (1854-62). Wallace theorised on the basis of his findings and was influenced in this theorising by Thomas Malthus' Essay on Population. The outcome of Wallace's ruminations was that he went on to propound a theory of the evolutionary origin of species by natural selection. He sent his findings to Darwin who had already postulated the same idea, he just had not published his work, out of fear of retribution.
  12. Can you explain Darwin's three postulates: there is a struggle for existence; there are variations in fitness within all species; and traits are heritable?
    1. There is a struggle for existence - Scientists before Darwin thought that competition or "struggle for life" might be the reason for the survival or extinction of species. Darwin felt that such a struggle might also occur between the members of a species, determining which individuals survived and reproduced and which did not.

    2. There are variations in fitness within all species - Some species are better adapted for certain environments. Fitness (the ability to adapt) helps determine what species will continue or go extinct

    3. Traits are heritable - certain traits can be passed to other members of the same species he just didn't understand how this worked because he had not heard of Mendel's work at the time.
  13. What have Darwin's three postulates to do with evolution?
    These three postulates are the reason for evolution. Without them they do not explain what evolution is or even why it occurs. Even though the answers to them were not immediate, they are important for understanding why evolution occurs.
  14. What did Peter Grant's study of the finches reveal?
    Without the 'oddballs' the species would have become extinct. The traits have to be there before an event occurs for natural selection can take place. Nature selected the train taht worked in a particular environment
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Anthropology 101 Study Guide Questions
Anthropology 101 Exam 1 Study Questions