Human biological variation
Bogin, Barry Allan Department of Behavioral Sciences, University of Michigan, Dearborn, Michigan.
Last reviewed:June 2018
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The diversity of biological and genetic differences observed in the human population. Anthropologists study human biology to better understand the extent of human biological variability, to explain the mechanisms that create and pattern this variability, to relate variability to health and disease, and to understand the sociocultural factors that interact with and are influenced by this biology. The major areas of study of human biological variation are growth and development, genetic variation (Fig. 1), variation related to climate, infectious and noninfectious diseases, and demography. Modern anthropologists and human biologists appreciate the essentially adaptive nature of human variability and the importance of the concept of biocultural adaptability to the study of biological variation. This understanding opens opportunities for greater tolerance, reduced conflict, better health, and greater welfare for the entire human species. See also: Adaptation (biology); Anthropology; Genetics; Genomics; Human genetics; Human genome
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