1) Humanity is a vastly diverse species, and there is a range of ways of viewing it. The world anthropology is the study of every facet of what it means to be human. As a result, there are a number of perspectives and applications that humanity inhabits, and as a result a number of subdivisions to the academic discipline of anthropology. Depending on who you ask, anthropology is generally broken into five categories, while the majority of anthropologists recognize four areas of anthropology (Kottak, 1).
A quick look at these subdivisions shows how they are all related to understanding humanity, but from different points and for different reasons. Biological Anthropology is concerned with the body, its functions, how DNA affects behavior and the connected between the mind and the body, how they work together. This field also studies close relatives of humans, since knowing what species we are related to and how they behave give us insight into where our species stand in the galore of all the world species.
Cultural anthropology is concerned with the invisible traditions and ideas that are the creations of the human brain and govern human societies and tribes. It is concerned with the objects made by a certain people, their purpose, and how technology and narratives are passed down and changed from one generation to the next.
Linguistic anthropology is most closely related to the subdivision of cultural anthropology and it studies humanity’s unique way to communicate through language. It also looks at how languages develop and change over time and what central tenets unite all the diverse languages in similar ways.
Kottak, Conrad Phillip. Cultural anthropology: appreciating cultural diversity. 14th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill;, 2011. Online. http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/dl/free/0073531030/781935/kot31030_ch01.pdf
2) While there are some school districts in the US who based on religious pretenses teach creationism instead of evolution, most rational thinkers and scientists have looked at the overwhelming evidence found within the fossil record and DNA which points to evolution being the most likely explanation to explain the diversity of life on earth.
Scientists have found three mechanisms that make the case for how evolution works: mutations, gene flow and genetic drift (Berkeley, 2014). Mutations are random changes in DNA and can occur one of several ways. Gene flow is when species from one area move to another and differences in genes are combined through mating. Sex or mating, is the way that genes change, or drift, over time.
Even those who are religious should be able to suspend their assumptions for a time and see that by looking at the changes in species over time from the fossil record, combining that with logic, and it becomes apparent that evolution is the mechanism behind changes in species and the emergence of new species.
Mechanisms: The Processes of Evolution. (n.d.). Evolution 101: Mechanisms of Evolution. Retrieved February 19, 2014, from http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo10
3)While humans are distinct from other primates, there are many more similarities than differences. Our differences come from our opposable thumbs, our higher intelligence, and use of language. These three things set humans apart and allow us to do things like go to the moon and build large, complex societies.
But humans are not a lone species on the earth, and they belong to a group of species known as primates. The family structures, rearing of young, use of tools, and physical characteristics are some of the traits that unite humans with this family of species.
4) Australopithecus is an extinct group of hominids who the fossil record shows were spread in Northern and Eastern Africa around three and a half millions years ago. Their brains were about I third of the size of modern humans. A more modern hominid, paranthropus existed around 2 million years ago in Tanzania, which is in East Africa. Its brain was slightly larger than Australopithecus, and was about 40% the size of the modern human brain.