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Kaylee Garland
Anthropology 101
Professor Houngues
September 11, 2012

What is Anthropology?

By definition, anthropology is the comparative study of human societies and cultures and their development. Anthropology is much more than the study of nonindustrial people, but a comparative science that examines all types of societies and human beings, ancient and modern, simple and complex. Most other social sciences tend to study certain types of societies, rather than all forms of social criteria. Anthropology is a unique holistic science, which is the study of the whole of the human condition; past, present, and future; biology, society, language, and culture. People share society with other animals including baboons, wolves, mole rats, and even ants. Cultures are traditions and customs, transmitted through learning, that form and guide the beliefs and behavior of the people exposed to them. Cultural traditions include customs and opinions, developed over the generations, about proper and improper behavior. The most critical element of cultural traditions is their transmission through learning rather than through biological inheritance.

Adaptation refers to the process by which organisms cope with environmental forces and stresses, such as those posed by climate and terrains. There are three ways of adapting biologically to high altitudes; genetic adaptation, long-term physiological adaptation, and short-term physiological adaptation. The rate of cultural adaptation and change has accelerated, particularly during the past 10,000 years. However, it only took a few thousand years for food production.

General anthropology includes four main subfields. They are sociocultural, archaeological, biological, and linguistic anthropology. Cultural and archaeological anthropologists study changes in social life and customs. Archaeologists use studies of living societies to imagine what life might have been like in the past. Biological...
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