When and how — and where and why — did humans develop as a species
and as social beings? What can we discover about social relations in different
societies in the past – and now?
Old bones, fossils, ancient tools made of stone – these
are some of the items that scientists look for and study to learn
about how people developed physically, mentally and socially. The
environment – the land, plants and animals, the climate – can
tell scientists a great deal about the conditions early people
faced and provide explanations for how they lived.
Different types of scientists work on different aspects of these
investigations. Archaeologists focus on material things – such
as graves, buildings, tools and pottery – that people have
left behind. Physical anthropologists study the origins of human
beings themselves, from old bones to modern DNA studies. Geographers
concentrate on space and its relation to human activity.
Both people and the Earth are still changing. Scientists address
issues that arise from contemporary differences in people, their
cultures and their relationships with their environments. Accounting
for such differences can tell us why we are the way we are and
where possibilities for change or adaptation lie.
How Does Language Develop? [Next]