Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Paleoanthropology is a multidisciplinary approach to exploring the evidence for the evolution of humans and their fossil ancestors. Paleoanthropology explores human anatomical structure, archaeological remains, habitat, and chronology through the diverse disciplines of biological anthropology, primatology, archaeology, ecology, geology, paleontology, biology, genetics, and cultural anthropology. In exploring the question of human evolution, paleoanthropologists link ideas through evolutionary theory, comparative anatomy, environmental and cultural influences on behavior, and geological time. In the 1860s, only a few pre-modern fossils had been found; scientists did not agree upon their identification or age, let alone upon the model to explain human evolution. Charles Darwin had just published On the Origin of Species in 1859 on natural selection as a mechanism to explain evolutionary change through time. Few people yet realized the extent of the antiquity of humanity. On the European continent, most people subscribed to the school of Catastrophism, led by the writings of ...