Introduction to Anthropology
Anthropology is a branch of science which deals with the study of humanity. Anthropology has origins in the social science, the humanity and the natural sciences. The word “Anthropology” is derived from the Greek word known as “anthropos”, which means “man” and logia which means “study” or “discourse”. This term was first by Magnus Hundt, a German philosopher, in the year 1501.
Anthropology is the scientific study of man, especially his origin, development, races, customs and beliefs. In the broadest sense Anthropology is the study of all aspects of Man, including the sociology of "primitive" peoples.
Man has inherited and acquired attributes. The inherited traits are the potential bodily forms, passed on by genes and the acquired traits as some forms of bodily growth, moulded by lack of nutrition or disease and cultural features passed on by imitation. These classes are unrelated and independent, both in nature and distribution so that to use any features for deduction, its class must be recognized. We gather knowledge about the origin, evolution and antiquity of man primarily from fossil remains. Man is a mammal who has evolved from apelike ancestors common to himself and the anthropoid apes some 5, 00,000 years ago.
Man distinguishes himself from all the animal kingdom by his unique ability to think out his future and make anticipatory acts to ward off evil and also his ability to use tools. He is the only creature capable of language and transferring his experiences from generation to generation by folklore and legends. This helps him to build up a useful and serviceable store of knowledge. He has discovered fire and put it to great use. Beginning as a hunter and gatherer roaming all over and leading a precarious life, he has learnt the art of animal husbandry and agriculture. This allowed him to set up settlements and begin the civilizing process. Evolution led to the development of different types of men and all of these all have become extinct except the “Homo Sapiens”. Evolution also led to differences within species and this is an ongoing process. An example is differences in skin color which are due to the amount of pigment (melanin) present. In hot countries, individuals with a quantity sufficient to protect them from harmful effects of the actinic rays of the sun are best able to survive in tropical areas, and so pass on the beneficial character.