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ANTHROPOLOGY

Biological AnthropologyJPEG Image

Biological anthropology, also called physical anthropology, is the subfield of anthropology that focuses on the biological aspects of human beings, especially how they relate to cultural practices, evolution, and the environment. The subfield itself is divided into three major branches which often overlap: paleoanthropology (the study of fossil humans and near relatives); primatology (the study of primates -- humans, apes, monkeys, and prosimians); and the study of modern human variation and adaptation.

One area of biological anthropology -- forensic anthropology -- specializes in the identification of modern human skeletal remains. Age, sex, stature, and group (racial) affinity can be estimated from skeletal measurements and morphology. Beyond identification, forensic anthropologists also work with law enforcement officials to help determine cause and manner of death; time interval since death; and to characterize skeletal trauma and abnormalities.