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Biological Anthropology: The Natural History of Humankind (4th Edition)


Author: Craig Stanford and John S. Allen

Publisher: Pearson


Publish Date: January 17, 2016

ISBN-10: 134005694

Pages: 648

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

We are proud to introduce you to the fourth edition of Biological Anthropology: The Natural History of Humankind. We initially wrote this book because we felt there was a great need for a new textbook that introduced students to the evolutionary biology of humankind. Decades ago the field of physical anthropology was mainly about human anatomy, human fossils, and the study of racial variation. Over the past 40 years, the field has evolved from physical anthropology into biological anthropology.

Modern biological anthropology is an integration of information from the fossil record and the human skeleton, the genetics of individuals and populations, our primate relatives, human adaptation, and human behavior, among other topics. The first three editions of our text have been very well received, and the fast pace of change in biological anthropology has led to this new, updated edition. The fourth edition combines updated, comprehensive coverage of the material that any traditional biological anthropology text explains, with a modern biological approach that includes fields that have become major areas of research by biological anthropologists. Though comprehensive, the book is written as accessibly as possible tobe useful to students from community college to researchoriented university levels. We authors conduct our research in three of the main areas of biological anthropology: the human fossil record (Susan Antón), primate behavior and ecology (Craig Stanford), and human biology and the brain (John Allen). This has allowed us to provide a specialist approach to each of the broad areas of biological anthropology that the text covers.

Undergraduate enrollment in introductory biological anthropology courses has increased sharply as biological anthropology has become one way to fulfill the basic natural science requirement at many colleges and universities. We believe the changing field and the new audience have created a need for a text such as this one, integrating traditional physical anthropology with a modern Darwinian framework.

We authors are anthropologists with extensive backgrounds in both biological and social sciences, and we teach and conduct research. In a field changing as rapidly as human evolutionary science is today, we feel it is critical for active researchers to produce textbooks that portray recent advances in the field and serve the needs of students. In addition to the strong biological orientation of the book, we try to frame questions about humankind in light of our understanding of culture and the ways in which culture interacts with biology to create the template for human nature. In a field famous for intellectual disagreements over the meaning of fossils or interpretations of Darwinian theory, we feel it is essential to provide students with wellrounded views of the evidence. There are places where, because of the introductory nature of the text, we have not delved deeply into the details of some debates, but we have nevertheless tried to balance multiple views of ongoing unresolved questions.

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