Course Detail
Units:
3.0
Course Components:
Lecture
Enrollment Information
Enrollment Requirement:
Prerequisites: ANTH 1020 OR BIOL 1030 OR BIOL 1610 OR BIOL 1620 OR Graduate Standing
Description
Anthropology 5211 is designed to give the student an overview of what is currently known about the biological makeup of both ancient and modern Native Americans. North and South America were among the last major land-masses colonized by fully modern humans. Although considerable debate exists, Native Americans are not thought to have reached the interior of North America until approximately 30,000 years ago--at the earliest; not until 12,000 years ago at the latest. This relatively recent colonization event is still evident in the patterning of biological diversity of modern Native Americans, and Anthropology 3211 will explore this relationship in detail. The course begins with a primer in molecular biology, including the study of genes, chromosomes, proteins and mutation, with a focus on the understanding of modern genetic markers such as restriction site polymorphism (RSP) and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) within the Native American genome. Microevolutionary forces are covered with a focus on their potential role in patterning Native American biological variation. Before the advent of modern genetic data, anthropologists commonly used morphological measurements to reveal biological diversity. For this reason, basic physiological adaptation, such as adjustment to high altitude conditions and variation in cranial morphology are covered. Another major aspect of biological diversity is seen in examination of Native American health. Pre and Proto-historic disease vectors are considered. DNA sequence data is perhaps the most powerful tool that biologists have ever had to reveal and measure biological diversity. DNA sequence data can also reveal population history, and estimate the timing of major evolutionary events, such as migration, and population sub-division. The course provides as its last section a consideration of both ancient and modern DNA evidence to asses general patterns and conclusions regarding the biology of Native Americans.