S/ANTH 105:  Introduction to Physical Anthropology

Fall 2013


Instructor: Barbara Welker                                                    Office: Fraser 118 OR Lab: Fraser 116

Telephone:  245-5204     email: welker@geneseo.edu        Office hours: Tu, W, & Th 2:30-3:30



This course will serve as an introduction to physical/biological anthropology, i.e. the study of humans as biological organisms.  We will explore relevant theories and methodologies utilized in this field.  Topics to be covered are HUMAN genetics, evolution, variation, and behavioral ecology, as well as PRIMATE evolution and behavioral ecology.



Students will demonstrate:

  • understanding of social scientific methods of hypothesis development;
  • understanding of social scientific methods of document analysis, observation, or experiment;
  • understanding of social scientific methods of measurement and data collection;
  • understanding of social scientific methods of statistical or interpretive analysis;
  • knowledge of some major social science concepts;
  • knowledge of some major social science models;
  • knowledge of some major social science concerns;
  • knowledge of some social issues of concern to social scientists;
  • knowledge of some political issues of concern to social scientists;
  • knowledge of some economic issues of concern to social scientists;
  • knowledge of some moral issues of concern to social scientists.



  • Students will demonstrate their knowledge of humans as biological organisms in terms of HUMAN genetics, evolution, variation, and growth and development, as well as PRIMATE evolution and behavioral ecology by successfully completing three in-class exams.
  • Students will demonstrate their appreciation and knowledge of key/controversial issues (e.g. race, intelligent design, and primate models for understanding human behavior) in physical anthropology via participation in in-class small and large group discussions.  They will also consider the views of authors and fellow students in the process.
  • Students will demonstrate critical thinking and the ability to coherently express themselves by the completion of essays based on the aforementioned issues.


TEXTBOOKS (Available at Bookstore): 

Marks J. (2010) The alternative introduction to biological anthropology. NY: Oxford University Press. ISBN10: 0195157036



3 exams @ 25% each                                                              75

3 essays @ 5% each (see schedule for submission)               15

5 discussion/participation @ 1% each                                       6 max

Hominin worksheets                                                                   5


EXAMS consist of fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice, and short answer questions and are non-cumulative.


ESSAYS focus on the assigned readings from Angeloni et al., indicated as “ISSUES” in the “TOPICS” section of this document (see below). You must submit 3 essays in total, meaning that you must omit 2 and choose which 3 to submit. NOTE:  there is no essay for the 1st discussion day, i.e. ISSUE 2.  ESSAYS ARE DUE 1 WEEK AFTER THE DISCUSSION DAY. Electronic submission is not an option as it is not fair to those students who submitted a hard copy. However, all anthropology majors also need to email their 1st essay to me because we use them for assessment purposes that have no reflection on you or your grade. The format for the essays is available on the course page. Essays must be typed and double-spaced using size 12 font. Double-sided printing is encouraged. Essays will be graded primarily on content and adherence to guidelines (see rubric and example essay on course page), with some consideration of grammar/organization.  Therefore, you should be sure to read them over carefully and make corrections prior to submission.


DISCUSSION/PARTICIPATIONISSUES will be discussed on the day they are scheduled to be read.  You will earn 1 point for every discussion that you come prepared for and participate in (you can earn a max of 6 pt).  Preparation consists of having read the articles within the ISSUE and submitting typed TOPICS (consisting of comments, questions, things you would like to discuss further, etc. that you want to discuss with your classmates).  TOPICS need to be typed to ensure that students are not completing them in class.  It should be apparent from your submitted “TOPICS” that you read and considered each of the articles within an ISSUE.  A minimum of 2 or 3 topics/comments/questions per article is acceptable, so that you will be submitting a minimum of 8-10 topics for each ISSUE, since there are 4 or more articles in each. If you have more to say about some articles than others, it will balance out. Since there is an extra discussion scheduled, there is no make-up credit, i.e. you must be present, prepared, and submit TOPICS to earn participation credit. 


HOMININ WORKSHEETS:  worksheets will be on the course site.  Students will compile information for their completion from readings and lecture notes.  You will submit them electronically on the course site.  They are due prior to your attendance at the study session at the end of the semester.  You will be able to tweak them during that session so that you can use them as a study guide.


Please note:  SUNY Geneseo will make reasonable accommodations for persons with documented physical, emotional, or cognitive disabilities.  Accommodations will also be made for medical conditions related to pregnancy or parenting.  Students should contact Dean Buggie-Hunt in the Office of Disability Services (tbuggieh@geneseo.edu or 585-245-5112) and their faculty to discuss needed accommodations as early as possible in the semester.


-ISSUES can be found on mycourses site. They are from: Angeloni E, Prichard Parker M, Arenson L (2009) Round Table Viewpoints: Physical Anthropology. NY: McGraw-Hill

– All articles within an ISSUE are to be read (unless otherwise indicated) and “TOPICS” prepared and submitted for all of them on days indicated with boxes

-Other assigned readings are found on mycourses site


Week  Date                            Lecture Topic                                                        ____ Assignments_____

                                                                                                Chapter numbers correspond to Marks text:

1          8/28     Introduction                                                                                                    1

            8/30     Human skeleton and group assignment                                  ISSUE 1 – no topics necessary

2          9/4       LEC: History of the theory of evolution DISCUSSION: ISSUE 2 – TOPICS (no essay)  2

9/6       LEC: Mechanisms of evolution & DNA film                                                 3

3          9/11     LEC: Mendelian inheritance & Human variation & adaptation                  4 & 5

            9/13     LEC: Human variation & adaptation DISCUSSION: ISSUE 4 (6 articles)-TOPICS                

4          9/18     CATCH-UP & REVIEW                                                                               13

            9/20     EXAM I covers lectures, ISSUES 1, 2, & 4, and Marks Chapters 1-5 & 13


5          9/25     LEC: Phylogeny of the order Primates &  DISCUSSION: ISSUE 8 (3 articles)-TOPICS

            9/27     FILM: “People of the Forest”           

6          10/2     LEC: Primate evolution & primate taxonomy                                                6

                        ISSUE 8 ESSAY DUE

            10/4     LEC: Primate ecology and social organization                                                8

7          10/9     FILMs: “Life in the Trees”& “Langurs of Abu”                                            7

            10/11   LEC: Extant primates                                                

8          10/16   LEC: Extant primates

            10/18   Rest of film & DISCUSSION: ISSUE 3 (4 articles)                                 TOPICS

9          10/23   REVIEW

            10/25   EXAM II covers lectures, ISSUES 3 & 8, and Marks Chapters 6-8

                        & ISSUE 3 ESSAY DUE

10        10/30   LEC: Australopithecines                                                                                9 & 10

            11/1     Australopithecines cont’d & DISCUSSION: ISSUE 6 (3 articles)                       TOPICS

11        11/6     Paleoanthropology film

            11/8     LEC: Early Homo & Homo erectus & ISSUE 6 ESSAY DUE                     11

12        11/13   LEC: Homo heidelbergensis & Neandertals                                                   12

            11/15   Neandertals cont’d & DISCUSSION: ISSUE 5 (5 articles)                      TOPICS       

13        11/20   LEC: Homo sapiens sapiens & ISSUE 5 ESSAY DUE

            11/22  Film / Lab (Fraser 116) / REVIEW                                         Forensic articles on course page

14        11/27   THANKSGIVING BREAK

15        12/4     Film / Lab (Fraser 116) / REVIEW                                         Forensic articles on course page

            12/6    Film / Lab (Fraser 116) / REVIEW                                         Forensic articles on course page


            12/11   12-3:00 EXAM 3 covers lectures, ISSUES 5 & 6, and Marks Chapters 9-12