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The Meaning of Large Scientific Words About Humanity

March 26, 2012

humanity happiness science chicagoThe newest science book to my collection is Born In Africa by Martin Meredith. It’s a story about the search for skeletons to determine the origins of humanity. Scientists have been traveling around the world digging for bones. Like a case from CSI, these researchers were working hard to answer one question: Did humans come from Africa or Asia? The answer: Africa.

Born In Africa was very entertaining. I read about romance (between Louis & Mary Leakey), evidence of arthritis from 400,000 years ago, competition between scientists, deceit, Australopithecus africanus, and SCIENCE! The book has many large scientific words such as zoology, palaeontology, anthropology, and palaeoanthropology. As a lifelong student of science, I’ve heard of all these words but until this book I was not clear about the differences between each. The purpose of this post is to educate you in 140 characters or less (a tweet), what each of these scientific words mean. So let class begin!

Zoology – the study of animals both living and extinct

Biology – the study of all living things (animals, bacteria, and fungi etc.)

Palaeontology – the study of prehistoric life (before recorded history) using fossils

Anthropology – the study of humanity, past and present

Archaeology – under the anthropology umbrella, it’s the study of human societies & culture through analysis of material remains

Palaeoanthropology – the biological & cultural study of human evolution during prehistory

Geology – the study of solid earth–rocks

After writing this post, I’m still not clear about it all. Are there any anthropologists or archaeologists out there who can clarify?! Thank you.

Additional Source:

American Anthropological Association

@palaeobeth

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