Essentials of Physical Anthropology Study Set 2
Quiz 12 :
Human Variationand Adaptation
The individuals are classified under various categories on the basis of similar traits and combinations of several characteristics such as skin color, face shape, nose shape, eye color, hair color and hair form (like curly or straight). These categories, traditionally, have been called as races. The term 'race' has been used as a synonym of 'species'. It has also been referred to various culturally defined groups since the 1600s. Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, a German anatomist classified humans on the basis of skin color into 5 races; namely, white, yellow, red, brown and black. His system of classification was not accepted as these categories were arbitrary and many phenotypic traits, including skin color were not discrete phenomena. His classification system omits all the individuals who do not fall under these 5 races. Therefore, I would not agree to any of them. There are various systems that classify humans into numerous races and each racial system follows a different basis of traits for human classification into specific race. Across the world, the race of humans is with reference to their nationality origin, for example, the people native to Asia and Africa are called as Asian and African respectively. The people belonging to a country or continent are further classified according to a different racial system of classification on the basis of their respective phenotypic variations under various races.
People across the world are classified under various categories on the basis of similar traits and combinations of several characteristics such as skin color, face shape, nose shape, eye color, hair color and hair form (like curly or straight). These categories, traditionally, have been called as races. There are different racial systems to classify individuals among the races and these systems vary from one region to another. Homo sapiens arose from a common ancestor, thus all the humans across the world have similar general characteristics undoubtedly, but variations have been noticed as well. These variations are due to the migration of humans to different areas. The environmental conditions are not similar everywhere on the planet as some regions are cold or hot and others are temperate. According to respective environmental conditions, humans either got to adapt to those conditions only or got modified genetically during the evolutionary course for sustaining on earth. The phenotypical traits of an individual are influenced by genetic makeup as well as environmental factors. The people living in hot regions are generally dark in complexion unlike those who lives in cold or temperate regions. More the genetic similarity, more closely-related are the organisms. In some cases, individuals belonging to quite different regions may have some similar phenotypic traits and some variations as well. According to one racial classification system, these individuals may be grouped together due to their similar traits.
For few thousands of years, the diversity of humans plays an enormous role in the relations of humans. The diversity influences the social and political perceptions. In the twentieth century, the scientific study of humans had been changed from the traditional approaches. The changes initiated from the color of the skin and eyes. It went from the classification of specific systems to the skeletal systems. This was possible after debating on the issues related to races. The variations among the individuals were also studied that included the principle applications of the evolutions. The parameter was that, skin was also replaced by the study of race, according to the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). The further emphasis on genetics had disappeared the misconceptions, that the fixed biological entities are the races. The entities do not change over the time. A German anatomist named JF Blumenbach, had classified the humans into 5 races. They are black, white, yellow, brown and red. It also had certain limitations. This was because of the inaccuracy in the classification system of race, which was due to the traits that were overlapping.