Biological Anthropology: Getting Our Bearings


During the first week of the semester, I used this scene from the movie ‘Gravity’ in my Introduction to Biological Anthropology class. Gravity

This came after I asked the class: why should we even care about biological anthropology? What’s the point? I used the image as a metaphor to say that what we’re trying to do is to get our bearings as to where we fit in nature. It can be difficult — things are moving fast, we’re disoriented, there’s a lot of debris (or data) flying around us. 

Despite that, we can look to what’s around us to orient ourselves. There’s the earth, the sun, ’empty’ space, etc. I think the same applies to biological anthropology. We look to the fossil record, genetics, anatomy, the living primates (and to a lesser extent other living species), human variation, etc. to figure out our approximate position.  

I’m not sure if the metaphor worked, but I had some fun with it.

One thought on “Biological Anthropology: Getting Our Bearings

  1. I think it’s definitely a useful metaphor. It takes something seemingly so disconnected from biological anthropology (space) and makes you really think deeply about meaning. Everything that makes up where humans fit into nature is really chaotic, but with bioanthropological methods, we can organize that chaos.

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