Human Biological Diversity: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Human Biological Diversity

1st Edition

By Daniel E. Brown


360 pages

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This text is intended for the sophomore level course in human variation/human biology taught in anthropology departments. It may also serve as a supplementary text in introductory physical anthropology courses.

In addition to covering the standard topics for the course, it features contemporary topics in human biology such as the Human Genome Project, genetic engineering, the effects of stress, obesity and pollution.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction p.1

Chapter Summary

Chapter 2: Concepts of Evolution p.7

A Brief History of Evolutionary Ideas

Ideas About Time

Western Ideas

Contemporary Western Views of Time

Some Non-Western Concepts of Time

The Great Chain of Being

Scientific Approaches to Evolution:

Lamarck’s Theory of Evolution

Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

Offspring Resemble Parents



Natural Selection

Types of Evidence for Evolution

Creationists Vs. Evolutionists




A Human Example: High Altitude Adaptation in Tibet

Imperfect Adaptations



Comparative Anatomy

Homologous Vs. Analogous Structures

Vestigial Structures

Comparative Embryology

Artificial Selection

Other Evidence for Evolution

Chapter Summary

Chapter 3: Genetics and Microevolution p.26

The Chemical Basis of Life


Protein Structure

Protein Function

Nucleic Acids

DNA Structure

DNA function

Duplication of DNA

Direction of Protein Synthesis

Messenger RNA


Transfer RNA


Sexual Reproduction



Mendelian Genetics

Alleles Vs. Loci

Principle of Dominance

Principle of Segregation

Principle of Independent Assortment

Genotype and Phenotype

Consequences of Mendel’s Principles

Sex Chromosomes

Complex Traits



Introduction to Population Genetics


Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium

Forces of Evolution


Types of Selection


Genetic Load

Migration and Gene Flow

Genetic Drift

Assortative Mating

The Synthetic Theory of Evolution

Chapter Summary

Chapter 4: Molecular Genetics, Genomics and Human Genetics p.48

A Closer Look at Chromosomes

Characteristics of Chromosomes

Chromosome Structure

Chromosome Structure and Function

Regulatory Regions of DNA

Special Features on Chromosomes

Other Types of Repeated DNA Sequences

Chromosome Mapping

Linkage Maps

Linkage Maps of the X Chromosome

Mapping By Means of RFLPs

Microsatellites in Mapping

DNA Sequencing

Polymerase Chain Reaction


Methylation of DNA


In Utero Effects

Extrachomosomal Genetics

RNA Processing

Introns and Exons

Other mRNA Processing

Why the Complexity?

When Things Go Wrong

Mitochondrial DNA

Origins of Mitochondria

Mitochondrial DNA

Chloroplast DNA

Tracing Genetic Variability and Function

Genetic Variability

Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs)

Oligonucleotide Hybridization Analysis

DNA Chips

Other Allele Differences

Understanding Gene Function

Gene Inactivation

RNA Interference

Gene Overexpression

A Brief Look at Quantitative Genetics

Basis of Quantitative Genetics


Human Genetics and the Human Genome

Family Studies in Human Genetics

Twin Studies

Adoption Studies

The Human Genome

The Human Genome Project

The Next Step?

Chapter Summary

Chapter 5: Macroevolution and Taxonomy p.66


Species and Speciation


Sibling Species and "Semispecies"


Adaptive Radiation

Rapid Divergent Evolution in Overlapping Incipient Species


Evolutionary Significance of Species

Taxonomic Units Above the Species Level







Two Taxonomic Examples: People and Dogs

Intermediate Levels of Taxonomy

Subspecies or Races

Taxonomy Debates


Some Highlights in the History of Life: An Anthropocentric View

Origin of the Earth

Earliest Life

Origin of the Eukaryotes

Multi-cellular Life

Early Vertebrates

Reptiles and Birds




The Human Journay

Early Hominids

Ardipithecus Ramidus


Homo Habilis

Plio-Pleistocene Hominids

Homo Erectus

Homo Sapiens

Macroevolutionary Processes

Tempo and Mode in Evolution


Mass Extinctions


Chapter Summary

Chapter 6: “Race” and Human Variation in Physical Traits p. 89


“Race,” Population, and Ethnic Group

Clines Versus Clumps

A Short History of Western “Race” Concepts: Ancient

Ancient Views of “Race”

The Greek Myth of Phaethon

Greek Humoral View of Human Variability

Biblical View of “Races”

Other Ancient Views of Human Variation

Western Views of “Race” in the 15th - 17th Centuries

A Short History of Race Concepts: Modern

Monogenists Vs. Polygenists

“Race” and Racism

Lamarck’s Evolutionary Theory and “Race”

Darwin and “Race”

Successors to Darwin

Carleton Coon and the Origin of “Races”

The "New" Physical Anthropology

American Anthropological Association Statement on “Race”

Phenotypic Characteristics of Human Variability

Nature Versus Nurture


Human Pigmentation: Skin Color


Biochemistry of Melanin Production

Environmental Effects on Melanin

Genetics of Melanin Production

Other Determinants of Skin Color

The Measurement of Skin Color

Intra-Individual Variability in Skin Color

Is There Selective Value to Differential Skin Color?

UV Radiation and Skin Color Variation

Skin Color Variation and Vitamin D Synthesis

Skin Color Variation and Folate Photolysis

Skin Color Variation and Concealment

Skin Color as a “Racial” Marker

Human Pigmentation: Hair and Eye Color

Hair Color

Age and Hair Color

Genetics of Hair Color

Adaptive Value of Head Hair Color Variation

Eye Color

Hair Form

Epicanthic Eyefolds

Body Size and Shape

Human Variability in Stature

Secular Trend in Stature

Short Statured Populations

Human Variability in Body Weight

The Thrifty Genotype

Body Shape and Climate

Temporal Dimension of Body Shape

Head Form


Skeletal and Dental Variation

Age Differences in the Skeleton and Teeth

Sex Differences in the Skeleton

Individual Variation in Skeletal and Dental Features

“Race” and Intelligence

What Is Intelligence?

IQ Versus Intelligence

Changes in IQ Tests

IQ and Heredity

Population Differences in IQ

Asian-Americans Versus Euro-Americans

African-Americans Versus Euro-Americans

The Bell Curve

Patterns of Human Variability

Chapter Summary

Chapter 7: Genotypic Traits and the Tracing of Population Affiliations p.116

Genotypic Traits Traditionally Used in Human Biology

Blood Groups: The ABO System

Basics of the ABO System

The ABO Antigens

Genetics of the ABO System

Consequences of ABO Variation

Distribution of ABO Allele Frequencies

The MNSs Blood Group Systems

The MN Locus

Distribution of MN Alleles in Human Populations

The Ss Locus

The Rhesus (Rh) Blood Group System

The Genetics of the Rh System

Rh and Maternal-Fetal Incompatability

The Distribution of Rh Polymorphisms

Hemoglobin Variants

Hemoglobin S and Sickle Cell Anemia

Genetics of Sickle-Cell

Sickle-Cell and Falciparum Malaria

Balanced Polymorphism



Thalassemia and Malaria

Hemoglobin E

Other Variant Hemoglobins

Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency

Genetic Traits From Contemporary Molecular Biology Used in Human Biology

Major Types of Molecular Genetic Studies Used in Human Biology

Mitochondrial DNA

Y Chromosome

Nuclear DNA

Uses for Human Molecular Genetics Studies

The Genetic History of Homo Sapiens

Human Genetic Diversity

Dating Divergences and Ancestry: The Molecular Clock

Genetics and Human Population Affinities

The Human Genome Diversity Project

Genetics and Human Migrations

Out of Africa

Genetic Data and the Origin of Modern Humans

Where Did Pacific Islanders Come From?

The Express Train Or an Entangled Bank?

The Peopling of America

Dating American Origins

Tracing the Origins of Specific Populations Through Genetics

The Roma

African-American Admixture

How Do the Saami Relate to Other European Populations?

The Ancestry of Papuan "Pygmoid" Populations

Genetics and Disease Risk

Genetics and the Notion of "Race"

Chapter Summary

Chapter 8: Demography: Populations, Reproduction and Mortality p.142

Population Ecology

Population Growth

Specific Growth Rate

Biotic Potential and Environmental Resistance

Intrinsic Rate of Natural Increase

Population Growth Curves

Carrying Capacity


Population Structure

Age Structure of Populations

Sex Ratios

Population Ecology: Concluding Remarks

Demography of Human Populations

Fertility and Fecundity

Male Fecundity

Female Fecundity

Age and Fecundity

Hypoxia and Fecundity

Disease and Fecundity

Nutrition, Energetics and Fecundity

High Levels of Work and Fecundity

Adaptation and Reduced Fecundity

Lactation and Fecundity

Cultural Effects on Fertility


Mortality From a Global Perspective

Life Tables

Causes of Mortality


Human Population Growth

Population Increase

Global Population Growth

Regional Population Growth

Human Population Structure

Implications of Growth

Chapter Summary

Chapter 9: Life Span: Growth and Development p.161

The General Pattern of Human Growth

Prenatal Growth

Early Development

The Embryonic Period

The Fetal Period

Effects of Premature Birth or Disrupted Fetal Development

Growth After Birth: General Patterns

Whole Body Growth Pattern

A Brief Aside on Sampling Issues

Distance, Velocity and Acceleration of Growth

The Human Pattern of Growth

The Three Stages of Growth

Saltational Nature of Growth

Sex Differences

Growth of Specific Body Parts

Development of Specific Systems

Neurological Development

Immunological Development

Reproductive System Development

Development of Selected Other Systems

Dental Development

Skeletal Growth

Development of Adipose Tissue

Growth After Birth: Population Differences

Environmental Effects on Growth

Secular Trends in General Growth

Why the Secular Trend in Growth?

Negative Secular Trends in Growth

Effects of Undernutrition on Growth

Effects of Overnutrition on Growth

Effects of Disease on Growth

Effects of High Altitude Hypoxia on Growth

Catch Up Growth

Genetics and Population Growth Differences

African Short-Statured Populations

Short-Statured Populations in Southeast Asia

Growth and Development: A Final Consideration

Chapter Summary

Chapter 10: Life Span: Aging and Senescence p.181

The Biology of Senescence

Aging at the Cellular Level

Hayflick and Limits to Mitosis

The Cell Membrane and Cytoskeleton in Senescence

Aging and the Mitochondrion

Aging and Lysosomes

Aging at the Organismal Level

Aging of the Musculoskeletal System

Aging and the Immune System

Aging and the Cardiovascular System

Aging and the Neurological System

Aging and the Reproductive System

Superficial Changes During Senescence

The Hair Cycle

Aging and the Hair Cycle

Skin Aging

Theories of Senescence

Mechanistic Theories of Senescence

Oxidative Damage

Nonenzymatic Glycation


Mitochondrial Changes

Telomere Shortening

Evolutionary Theories of Senescence

Theory of Mutation Accumulation

Theory of Antagonistic Pleiotropy

Disposable Soma Theory

Selected System-Specific Senescence Theories

Menopause and the Grandmother Hypothesis

The Cognitive Reserve Hypothesis

Conclusion: Theories of Senescence

The Human Population Biology of Senescence

Population Differences in Life Span

Life Expectancy

Maximum Life Span

Species Differences in Maximum Life Span

Shangri-La or Bust


Sex Differences in Senescence

Population Differences in Diseases Associated With Senescence




Cardiovascular Disease


Population Differences: Conclusion


Chapter Summary

Chapter 11: Human Adaptability to Physical Stressors p.201

Limiting Factors, Tolerance and Environmental Physiology

Law of Tolerance

Environmental Physiology

Individual Level Changes: Behavioral Adaptations

Individual Level Changes: Physiological Adaptations

Individual Level Changes: Acclimatization

Individual Level Changes: Developmental Adaptations

Population Level Changes: Cultural Adaptations

Population Level Changes: Demographic Adjustments

Population Level Changes: Genetic Adaptations

Human Adaptability

The “Single-Stressor” Model

Essential and Key Resources

Properties of Stressors and Responses

Limitations of the Single Stressor Model

Adaptation to Cold and Heat







Heat Balance Equation

Cold Adaptation

Behavioral and Cultural Adaptations to Cold

Biological Responses to Cold Exposure

Metabolic Adjustments to Cold Exposure

Habituation Responses to Moderate Cold

Peripheral Cold Exposure

Adaptive Consequences of Cold Stress

Heat Adaptation

Hot-Dry Environments

Behavioral and Cultural Adaptations to Dry Heat

Biological Responses to Dry Heat Exposure

Heat Transfer

Vascular Responses


Acclimatization and Individual Differences in Heat Adaptation

Warm-Humid Environments

Behavioral and Cultural Adaptations to Humid Heat

Biological Responses to Humid Heat Exposure

Conclusion to Thermoregulation

Adaptation to High Altitude

Behavioral and Cultural Adaptations to Hypoxia

Biological Adaptations to Hypoxia


Oxygen Movement from Lungs to Blood


Tissue and Cellular Adaptations

Population Differences in Adaptability to High Altitude Hypoxia

Andean Population Adaptations

Tibetan Population Adaptations

High Activity Levels

The Requirements of Work

Behavioral and Cultural Adjustments to High Work Loads

Biological Adaptations to High Work Loads

Physical Fitness

Aerobic Capacity

Types of Muscle Fibers

Adaptive Consequences of Work Capacity

Factors Affecting Work Requirements

Impact of Modernization


Chapter Summary

Chapter 12: Human Adaptability to Biological Stressors p.226


Food Versus Nutrients

Types of Nutrients



Protein-Calorie Malnutrition

Protein Deficiency

Protein Quality of Foods

Global View of Protein Deficiency

The Biology of Protein Deficiency

Protein-Calorie Malnutrition: Total Undernutrition

Energy Reserves

Adaptations to PCM: The Cori Cycle

Responses to Prolonged Undernutrition

Evolution and Adaptations to PCM

Micronutrient Deficiencies

Vitamin Deficiencies

Vitamin A

Thiamine (Vitamin B1)

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

Niacin (Vitamin B3)

Other B Vitamins

Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)

Vitamin D

Electrolyte and Mineral Deficiencies






Conclusion: Malnutrition

Infectious Diseases

Host-Parasite Relationships

Evolution and Virulence

Considerations in Disease Transmission

Vector Borne Diseases



Malaria Transmission

Adaptations to Malaria


Direct Contact Diseases

Conditions for Transfer of Pathogens




Virgin Soil Epidemics

Diseases Due to Intimate Contact

Treponemal Diseases


Poor Sanitation Diseases



Balancing Immune Protection and Immune Damage

Conclusion: Infectious Diseases

General Conclusion: The Impact of Biological Stressors on Human Biology

Chapter Summary

Chapter 13: Human Biology in the Modern World p.251

Possible Reduced Selective Forces

The Accumulation of Minor Genetic Problems


Dental Caries

Can Cumulative Minor Effects Lead to Bigger Problems?

Reduced Selection Due to Medical Interventions

Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus


Cystic Fibrosis

Magnitude of the Problem

Genetic Engineering

General Stress

The Nature of General Stress

Stress Defined

Stress Theories

The Systemic General Stress Response

The Hypothalamus Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) Axis

The Sympathetic Adrenal Medullary (SAM) Axis

The Causes of General Stress

Stress at the Cellular Level

Effects of the General Stress Response

Stress and Heart Disease

Stress and Hypertension

Stress and Other Chronic Diseases

Adiposity and Obesity: Are We Eating Ourselves to Death?

The Obesity Epidemic

The Causes of Increased Adiposity

Genes and Environment

Proximate Causes of Obesity

Development and Obesity

Inflammation and Obesity

The Effects of Increased Adiposity

The Metabolic Syndrome

Type 2 Diabetes

Cardiovascular Disease

Pollution: The Fouling of the Environment

Air Pollution



Chemicals in Air Pollution

Particulates in Air Pollution

The Health Effects of Air Pollution

Water Pollution

Agricultural Sources of Water Pollution

Health Effects of Water Pollution

Solid Waste Pollution

Pollution and Human Variation


Chapter Summary

Chapter 14: Human Biological Variation: A Look to the Future and Some Final Thoughts on Ethics p.274

Human Biology in the Future

An Individual Level View of Future Human Biology

The Future of Human Population Variability

Genetic Variability in Our Species

Population Variability in the Future

Space Colonies

Human Biobehavioral Variability

Final Thoughts on the Ethics of Human Biology Research

Prevention of Harm to the Individual Participant

Huntington’s Disease


Job and Insurance Concerns

Human Subject Committees and IRBs

Prevention of Harm to Communities

Anthropology and Ethics

Heterogeneity of Culture and of Communities

What is Normal?

Health as Normality

Biological Characteristics and Normality

Ethics and Notions of Normality

Disability Rights

Variation Is Natural

Chapter Summary


About the Author

Daniel Brown is Professor of Anthropology and Coordinator of Research and Graduate Education at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. He has taught classes in all areas of physical anthropology, as well as in cultural anthropology and archaeology. Dr. Brown’s research interest focuses on variation in how humans cope with psychosocial and physical stress, and the implications of that variation for health disparities. He has received Chancellor Citations both for teaching and research at his university, and was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a former President of the Human Biology Association, an international organization whose mission “is to advance the understanding of human biological variation, to enhance the training of professional human biologists, and to foster a better comprehension of the scope of human biology among scientific professionals and the public.”

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Physical