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The Australian National University

Bioanthropology

Biological Anthropology is the branch of anthropology that focuses on the evolutionary and biological aspects: Homo sapiens as a species - human populations as varied and dynamically changing sets of biological individuals, adaptable but also vulnerable to ever-changing circumstances. It thus encompasses physical anthropology, primatology, palaeoanthropology and human biology, including human genetics and the study of human adaptation, health, nutrition and demography. All undergraduate courses in biological anthropology can be counted towards either a BA or a BSc degree.

We focus on these core topics in particular:

  • the primates (apes, monkeys, lemurs etc.), as the group of mammals amongst which humanity has its evolutionary origin
  • the course of human evolution, as it can be traced from the fossil remains of human ancestors and relatives, or inferred from comparative genetics and anatomy
  • the archaeologically excavated skeletal remains of more recent human populations, for what they can tell us about what past populations were like and how they lived
  • the genetic and physical variety of living human populations, seen both as outcomes of natural selection and other micro-evolutionary processes, and as traces of long-term population origins, movements and histories
  • and the varied ecological adaptations and health patterns of living human populations in different parts of the world, reflecting as they do the diverse physical, biotic, social and cultural environments in which different populations live.

Human beings are highly complex cultural animals. Studying human evolution and biology within a School of Archaeology and Anthropology, biological anthropologists are constantly aware of and interested in the manifold interactions between the biological and cultural dimensions of human existence.

Bioanthropologists in the School of Archaeology and Anthropology are actively engaged in research and teaching across many areas including: primate evolution, ecology, behaviour and conservation; human evolution; animal domestication; palaeopathology, bioarchaeology, and ancient health and medicine; forensic anthropology and archaeology; human population genetic variation and anthropological genetics; human population adaptation, health, nutrition, and ecology; anthropological demography. Staff have research experience in many regions including Australia, New Guinea, South and South East Asia, Africa and Europe.

Find out more about Bioanthropologists in the School of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Find out more about Major Bioanthropology Research Projects.

Updated: 17 November 2010/ Responsible Officer:  Head of School / Page Contact:  Web Publisher