Human Biological Diversity

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Nonspecific Binding
  • Copyright: 2009-09-29
  • Publisher: Routledge

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This text is intended for the sophomore level course in human variation/human biology taught in anthropology departments. In addition to covering the standard topics for the course, it features contemporary topics in human biology such as the Human Genome Project, genetic engineering, the effects of stress, obesity, disability and pollution. An excellent resource and reference work for readers interested in or involved with in-depth studies of Biological Anthropology.

Author Biography

Daniel Brown is Professor of Anthropology and Coordinator of Research and Graduate Education at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.  He has taught classes in all areas of physical anthropology, as well as in cultural anthropology and archaeology.  Dr. Brown’s research interest focuses on variation in how humans cope with psychosocial and physical stress, and the implications of that variation for health disparities.  He has received Chancellor Citations both for teaching and research at his university, and was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  He is a former President of the Human Biology Association, an international organization whose mission “is to advance the understanding of human biological variation, to enhance the training of professional human biologists, and to foster a better comprehension of the scope of human biology among scientific professionals and the public.”

Table of Contents



Chapter 1: Introduction p.1

Chapter Summary


Chapter 2:  Concepts of Evolution p.7

A Brief History of Evolutionary Ideas

    Ideas About Time

        Western Ideas

        Contemporary Western Views of Time

        Some Non-Western Concepts of Time

    The Great Chain of Being

Scientific Approaches to Evolution:

    Lamarck’s Theory of Evolution

    Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

        Offspring Resemble Parents



        Natural Selection

Types of Evidence for Evolution

    Creationists Vs. Evolutionists




        A Human Example: High Altitude Adaptation in Tibet

        Imperfect Adaptations



    Comparative Anatomy

        Homologous Vs. Analogous Structures

        Vestigial Structures

    Comparative Embryology

    Artificial Selection

    Other Evidence for Evolution

Chapter Summary


Chapter 3:  Genetics and Microevolution p.26

The Chemical Basis of Life


        Protein Structure

        Protein Function
    Nucleic Acids

        DNA Structure

        DNA function

    Duplication of DNA

    Direction of Protein Synthesis

        Messenger RNA


        Transfer RNA


    Sexual Reproduction



    Mendelian Genetics

        Alleles Vs. Loci

        Principle of Dominance

        Principle of Segregation

        Principle of Independent Assortment

        Genotype and Phenotype

        Consequences of Mendel’s Principles

        Sex Chromosomes

        Complex Traits



    Introduction to Population Genetics


        Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium

    Forces of Evolution


        Types of Selection


        Genetic Load

        Migration and Gene Flow

        Genetic Drift

        Assortative Mating

The Synthetic Theory of Evolution

Chapter Summary


Chapter 4: Molecular Genetics, Genomics and Human Genetics p.48

A Closer Look at Chromosomes

    Characteristics of Chromosomes

        Chromosome Structure

        Chromosome Structure and Function

        Regulatory Regions of DNA

        Special Features on Chromosomes

        Other Types of Repeated DNA Sequences

    Chromosome Mapping

        Linkage Maps

        Linkage Maps of the X Chromosome

        Mapping By Means of RFLPs

        Microsatellites in Mapping

        DNA Sequencing

        Polymerase Chain Reaction


        Methylation of DNA


        In Utero Effects

Extrachomosomal Genetics

    RNA Processing

        Introns and Exons

        Other mRNA Processing

        Why the Complexity?

        When Things Go Wrong

    Mitochondrial DNA

        Origins of Mitochondria

        Mitochondrial DNA

    Chloroplast DNA

Tracing Genetic Variability and Function

    Genetic Variability

        Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs)

        Oligonucleotide Hybridization Analysis

        DNA Chips

        Other Allele Differences

    Understanding Gene Function

        Gene Inactivation

        RNA Interference

        Gene Overexpression

    A Brief Look at Quantitative Genetics

        Basis of Quantitative Genetics


Human Genetics and the Human Genome

    Family Studies in Human Genetics

        Twin Studies

        Adoption Studies

    The Human Genome

    The Human Genome Project

    The Next Step?

Chapter Summary


Chapter 5:  Macroevolution and Taxonomy p.66


    Species and Speciation


        Sibling Species and "Semispecies"


        Adaptive Radiation

        Rapid Divergent Evolution in Overlapping Incipient Species


        Evolutionary Significance of Species

    Taxonomic Units Above the Species Level







        Two Taxonomic Examples: People and Dogs

        Intermediate Levels of Taxonomy

        Subspecies or Races

        Taxonomy Debates


    Some Highlights in the History of Life: An Anthropocentric View

        Origin of the Earth

        Earliest Life

        Origin of the Eukaryotes

        Multi-cellular Life

        Early Vertebrates

        Reptiles and Birds




    The Human Journay   

        Early Hominids

        Ardipithecus Ramidus


        Homo Habilis

        Plio-Pleistocene Hominids

        Homo Erectus

        Homo Sapiens

    Macroevolutionary Processes

        Tempo and Mode in Evolution


        Mass Extinctions


Chapter Summary


Chapter 6:  “Race” and Human Variation in Physical Traits p. 89


    “Race,” Population, and Ethnic Group

    Clines Versus Clumps

    A Short History of Western “Race” Concepts: Ancient

        Ancient Views of “Race”

        The Greek Myth of Phaethon

        Greek Humoral View of Human Variability

        Biblical View of “Races”

        Other Ancient Views of Human Variation

        Western Views of “Race” in the 15th - 17th Centuries

    A Short History of Race Concepts: Modern

        Monogenists Vs. Polygenists

        “Race” and Racism

        Lamarck’s Evolutionary Theory and “Race”

        Darwin and “Race”

        Successors to Darwin

        Carleton Coon and the Origin of “Races”

        The "New" Physical Anthropology

        American Anthropological Association Statement on “Race”

Phenotypic Characteristics of Human Variability

    Nature Versus Nurture


    Human Pigmentation: Skin Color


        Biochemistry of Melanin Production

        Environmental Effects on Melanin

        Genetics of Melanin Production

        Other Determinants of Skin Color

        The Measurement of Skin Color

        Intra-Individual Variability in Skin Color

        Is There Selective Value to Differential Skin Color?

        UV Radiation and Skin Color Variation

        Skin Color Variation and Vitamin D Synthesis

        Skin Color Variation and Folate Photolysis

        Skin Color Variation and Concealment

        Skin Color as a “Racial” Marker

    Human Pigmentation: Hair and Eye Color

        Hair Color

        Age and Hair Color

        Genetics of Hair Color

        Adaptive Value of Head Hair Color Variation

        Eye Color

    Hair Form

    Epicanthic Eyefolds

    Body Size and Shape

        Human Variability in Stature

        Secular Trend in Stature

        Short Statured Populations

        Human Variability in Body Weight

        The Thrifty Genotype

        Body Shape and Climate

        Temporal Dimension of Body Shape

    Head Form


    Skeletal and Dental Variation

    Age Differences in the Skeleton and Teeth

    Sex Differences in the Skeleton

    Individual Variation in Skeletal and Dental Features

“Race” and Intelligence

    What Is Intelligence?

        IQ Versus Intelligence

        Changes in IQ Tests

    IQ and Heredity

    Population Differences in IQ

        Asian-Americans Versus Euro-Americans

        African-Americans Versus Euro-Americans

        The Bell Curve

Patterns of Human Variability

Chapter Summary


Chapter 7:  Genotypic Traits and the Tracing of Population Affiliations p.116

Genotypic Traits Traditionally Used in Human Biology

    Blood Groups: The ABO System

        Basics of the ABO System

        The ABO Antigens

        Genetics of the ABO System

        Consequences of ABO Variation

        Distribution of ABO Allele Frequencies

    The MNSs Blood Group Systems

        The MN Locus

        Distribution of MN Alleles in Human Populations

        The Ss Locus

    The Rhesus (Rh) Blood Group System

        The Genetics of the Rh System

        Rh and Maternal-Fetal Incompatability

        The Distribution of Rh Polymorphisms

    Hemoglobin Variants

        Hemoglobin S and Sickle Cell Anemia

        Genetics of Sickle-Cell

        Sickle-Cell and Falciparum Malaria

        Balanced Polymorphism



        Thalassemia and Malaria

        Hemoglobin E

        Other Variant Hemoglobins

    Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency

Genetic Traits From Contemporary Molecular Biology Used in Human Biology

    Major Types of Molecular Genetic Studies Used in Human Biology

        Mitochondrial DNA

        Y Chromosome

        Nuclear DNA

        Uses for Human Molecular Genetics Studies

    The Genetic History of Homo Sapiens

        Human Genetic Diversity

        Dating Divergences and Ancestry: The Molecular Clock

    Genetics and Human Population Affinities

        The Human Genome Diversity Project

        Genetics and Human Migrations

        Out of Africa

        Genetic Data and the Origin of Modern Humans

        Where Did Pacific Islanders Come From?

        The Express Train Or an Entangled Bank?

        The Peopling of America

        Dating American Origins

        Tracing the Origins of Specific Populations Through Genetics

        The Roma

        African-American Admixture

        How Do the Saami Relate to Other European Populations?

        The Ancestry of Papuan "Pygmoid" Populations

        Genetics and Disease Risk

    Genetics and the Notion of "Race"

Chapter Summary


Chapter 8:  Demography: Populations, Reproduction and Mortality p.142

Population Ecology

    Population Growth

        Specific Growth Rate

        Biotic Potential and Environmental Resistance

        Intrinsic Rate of Natural Increase

        Population Growth Curves

        Carrying Capacity


        Population Structure

        Age Structure of Populations

        Sex Ratios

    Population Ecology: Concluding Remarks

Demography of Human Populations

    Fertility and Fecundity

        Male Fecundity

        Female Fecundity

        Age and Fecundity

        Hypoxia and Fecundity

        Disease and Fecundity

        Nutrition, Energetics and Fecundity

        High Levels of Work and Fecundity

        Adaptation and Reduced Fecundity

        Lactation and Fecundity

        Cultural Effects on Fertility


        Mortality From a Global Perspective

        Life Tables

        Causes of Mortality


Human Population Growth

    Population Increase

        Global Population Growth

        Regional Population Growth

    Human Population Structure

    Implications of Growth

Chapter Summary


Chapter 9:  Life Span: Growth and Development p.161

The General Pattern of Human Growth

    Prenatal Growth

        Early Development

        The Embryonic Period

        The Fetal Period

        Effects of Premature Birth or Disrupted Fetal Development

    Growth After Birth: General Patterns

        Whole Body Growth Pattern

        A Brief Aside on Sampling Issues

        Distance, Velocity and Acceleration of Growth

        The Human Pattern of Growth

        The Three Stages of Growth

        Saltational Nature of Growth

        Sex Differences

Growth of Specific Body Parts

    Development of Specific Systems

        Neurological Development

        Immunological Development

        Reproductive System Development

    Development of Selected Other Systems

        Dental Development

        Skeletal Growth

        Development of Adipose Tissue

Growth After Birth: Population Differences

    Environmental Effects on Growth

        Secular Trends in General Growth

        Why the Secular Trend in Growth?

        Negative Secular Trends in Growth

        Effects of Undernutrition on Growth

        Effects of Overnutrition on Growth

        Effects of Disease on Growth

        Effects of High Altitude Hypoxia on Growth

        Catch Up Growth

    Genetics and Population Growth Differences

        African Short-Statured Populations

        Short-Statured Populations in Southeast Asia

Growth and Development: A Final Consideration

Chapter Summary


Chapter 10:  Life Span: Aging and Senescence p.181

The Biology of Senescence

    Aging at the Cellular Level

        Hayflick and Limits to Mitosis

        The Cell Membrane and Cytoskeleton in Senescence

        Aging and the Mitochondrion

        Aging and Lysosomes

    Aging at the Organismal Level

        Aging of the Musculoskeletal System

        Aging and the Immune System

        Aging and the Cardiovascular System

        Aging and the Neurological System

        Aging and the Reproductive System

    Superficial Changes During Senescence

        The Hair Cycle

        Aging and the Hair Cycle

        Skin Aging

Theories of Senescence

    Mechanistic Theories of Senescence

        Oxidative Damage

        Nonenzymatic Glycation


        Mitochondrial Changes

        Telomere Shortening

    Evolutionary Theories of Senescence

        Theory of Mutation Accumulation

        Theory of Antagonistic Pleiotropy

        Disposable Soma Theory

    Selected System-Specific Senescence Theories

        Menopause and the Grandmother Hypothesis

        The Cognitive Reserve Hypothesis

    Conclusion: Theories of Senescence

The Human Population Biology of Senescence

    Population Differences in Life Span

        Life Expectancy

        Maximum Life Span

        Species Differences in Maximum Life Span

        Shangri-La or Bust


    Sex Differences in Senescence

    Population Differences in Diseases Associated With Senescence




         Cardiovascular Disease


         Population Differences: Conclusion


Chapter Summary


Chapter 11: Human Adaptability to Physical Stressors p.201

Limiting Factors, Tolerance and Environmental Physiology

    Law of Tolerance

    Environmental Physiology

        Individual Level Changes: Behavioral Adaptations

        Individual Level Changes: Physiological Adaptations

        Individual Level Changes: Acclimatization

        Individual Level Changes: Developmental Adaptations

        Population Level Changes: Cultural Adaptations

        Population Level Changes: Demographic Adjustments

        Population Level Changes: Genetic Adaptations

    Human Adaptability

        The “Single-Stressor” Model

        Essential and Key Resources

        Properties of Stressors and Responses

        Limitations of the Single Stressor Model

Adaptation to Cold and Heat







        Heat Balance Equation

    Cold Adaptation

        Behavioral and Cultural Adaptations to Cold

        Biological Responses to Cold Exposure

        Metabolic Adjustments to Cold Exposure

        Habituation Responses to Moderate Cold

        Peripheral Cold Exposure

        Adaptive Consequences of Cold Stress

    Heat Adaptation

    Hot-Dry Environments

        Behavioral and Cultural Adaptations to Dry Heat

        Biological Responses to Dry Heat Exposure

        Heat Transfer

        Vascular Responses


        Acclimatization and Individual Differences in Heat Adaptation

    Warm-Humid Environments

        Behavioral and Cultural Adaptations to Humid Heat

        Biological Responses to Humid Heat Exposure

    Conclusion to Thermoregulation

Adaptation to High Altitude

    Behavioral and Cultural Adaptations to Hypoxia

    Biological Adaptations to Hypoxia


        Oxygen Movement from Lungs to Blood


        Tissue and Cellular Adaptations

    Population Differences in Adaptability to High Altitude Hypoxia

        Andean Population Adaptations

        Tibetan Population Adaptations

High Activity Levels

    The Requirements of Work

    Behavioral and Cultural Adjustments to High Work Loads

    Biological Adaptations to High Work Loads

        Physical Fitness

        Aerobic Capacity

        Types of Muscle Fibers

    Adaptive Consequences of Work Capacity

        Factors Affecting Work Requirements

        Impact of Modernization


Chapter Summary


Chapter 12: Human Adaptability to Biological Stressors p.226


    Food Versus Nutrients

    Types of Nutrients



Protein-Calorie Malnutrition

    Protein Deficiency

        Protein Quality of Foods

        Global View of Protein Deficiency

        The Biology of Protein Deficiency

    Protein-Calorie Malnutrition: Total Undernutrition

        Energy Reserves

        Adaptations to PCM: The Cori Cycle

        Responses to Prolonged Undernutrition

        Evolution and Adaptations to PCM

Micronutrient Deficiencies

    Vitamin Deficiencies

        Vitamin A

        Thiamine (Vitamin B1)

        Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

        Niacin (Vitamin B3)

        Other B Vitamins

        Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)

        Vitamin D

    Electrolyte and Mineral Deficiencies






        Conclusion: Malnutrition

Infectious Diseases      

    Host-Parasite Relationships

        Evolution and Virulence

        Considerations in Disease Transmission

    Vector Borne Diseases



        Malaria Transmission

        Adaptations to Malaria


    Direct Contact Diseases

        Conditions for Transfer of Pathogens




        Virgin Soil Epidemics

    Diseases Due to Intimate Contact

        Treponemal Diseases


    Poor Sanitation Diseases



        Balancing Immune Protection and Immune Damage

Conclusion: Infectious Diseases

General Conclusion: The Impact of Biological Stressors on Human Biology

Chapter Summary


Chapter 13: Human Biology in the Modern World p.251

Possible Reduced Selective Forces

    The Accumulation of Minor Genetic Problems


        Dental Caries

        Can Cumulative Minor Effects Lead to Bigger Problems?

    Reduced Selection Due to Medical Interventions

        Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus


        Cystic Fibrosis

        Magnitude of the Problem

        Genetic Engineering

General Stress

    The Nature of General Stress

        Stress Defined

        Stress Theories

        The Systemic General Stress Response

        The Hypothalamus Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) Axis

        The Sympathetic Adrenal Medullary (SAM) Axis

        The Causes of General Stress

        Stress at the Cellular Level

Effects of the General Stress Response

        Stress and Heart Disease

        Stress and Hypertension

        Stress and Other Chronic Diseases

Adiposity and Obesity: Are We Eating Ourselves to Death?

    The Obesity Epidemic

    The Causes of Increased Adiposity

        Genes and Environment

        Proximate Causes of Obesity

        Development and Obesity

        Inflammation and Obesity

    The Effects of Increased Adiposity

        The Metabolic Syndrome

        Type 2 Diabetes

        Cardiovascular Disease

Pollution: The Fouling of the Environment

    Air Pollution



        Chemicals in Air Pollution

        Particulates in Air Pollution

        The Health Effects of Air Pollution

    Water Pollution

        Agricultural Sources of Water Pollution

        Health Effects of Water Pollution

    Solid Waste Pollution

    Pollution and Human Variation


Chapter Summary


Chapter 14: Human Biological Variation: A Look to the Future and Some Final Thoughts on Ethics p.274

Human Biology in the Future

    An Individual Level View of Future Human Biology

    The Future of Human Population Variability

        Genetic Variability in Our Species

        Population Variability in the Future

        Space Colonies

        Human Biobehavioral Variability

Final Thoughts on the Ethics of Human Biology Research

    Prevention of Harm to the Individual Participant

        Huntington’s Disease


        Job and Insurance Concerns

        Human Subject Committees and IRBs

    Prevention of Harm to Communities

        Anthropology and Ethics

        Heterogeneity of Culture and of Communities

What is Normal?

    Health as Normality

    Biological Characteristics and Normality

    Ethics and Notions of Normality

        Disability Rights

        Variation Is Natural

Chapter Summary


Glossary p.283

Reference p.293

Index p. 318

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