Author: A. Hannah Spadafora
Icebreaker activities in the classroom can be a little awkward--they are great as a semester starter, but in large classrooms, it is often difficult to implement any lasting effect during 2-minute introductions from up to 100+ students per class. As an addition to, or replacement for, an activity where students go around the room to tell you their name and why they have ended up in your classroom, here is an example of an icebreaker activity that initiates on-topic class discussions while identifying and engaging student interests from the first day you meet in the classroom. This activity is a fun introduction that offers helpful guidance to beginner students that may decide to go further in the field as well as an interactive introduction to the many career paths within the discipline and upcoming class discussions for the semester.
This particular activity is intended for four-subfield introductory anthropology classes. Anthropology is the study of human beings--being that humans are complex, so is the field. The four subfields of anthropology traditionally are labelled as biological anthropology, archaeology, social-cultural anthropology, and linguistic anthropology--with a fifth component of applied anthropology increasingly being tacked on, though applied archaeologists and applied social-cultural anthropologists do very different types of work. These many other branches of Anthropology that I have included only a few of here (Medical Anthropology, Primatology, Cyborg Anthropology, Digital/Virtual Anthropology) are under the umbrella of these main four subfields. Medical Anthropology adapts some of the theory and topic focus from biological anthropology but the methods of social-cultural anthropology. Digital/Virtual Anthropologists are social-cultural anthropologists, but in a niche corner of the field. Primatologists and Cyborg Anthropologists draw on all four diverse anthropological skillsets and knowledge bases but also may include participants that are not human, or not fully human--yet (possibly, in both cases, or if the earth is destroyed sooner than that, possibly in neither.) There are other corners of the field such as praxis anthropology and business anthropology (and more), but these are both somewhat covered under the focus on applied social cultural anthropology, whereas specialties such as primatology and cyborg anthropology are a bit more unique to the fields they branch out from.
Obviously this fun 'assignment' can be adapted conceptually for other fields seeking to connect their discipline to the potential careers students can seek or schools of thought that will be covered in the particular semester/class. This activity can also be followed by smaller cluster greeting activities, or potentially as a lead-in to another group assignment placed during corresponding class units. The PDF can be found here:
Feel free to use this activity in your classroom and post your results in the comments! :)
Class Icebreaker Quiz: What kind of anthropologist are you?
1. You’re surfing Netflix or YouTube. What do you watch?
A. The Human Planet. Show me how different populations survive oxygen depletion of high altitudes, how tarantulas are considered a snack in certain wild jungles, or how in the hot desert of sub-Saharan Africa, kids trick elephants to win the competition for water. Adaptation is cool!
C. The news, music videos, or anything that can be deconstructed if you listen deep to the themes, narratives, imagery, and/or perspectives conveyed. Media analysis is fun!
D. Historical documentaries. It’s so cool that we know so much information about a community that is so far in the past!
D.2. How It's Made specials. It’s nifty seeing how items we use every day are created!
D.3. Indiana Jones. Not 100% accurate, but damn he makes excavation and exploration adventurous!
E. Documentaries on environmental disaster, contemporary social issues, and problems local communities face. Solving social problems is important!
F.2. Shows allowing humans to represent themselves with complexity and/or dignity –such as Tales of the City (original/ sequels 1 & 2/reboot), Sense8, When They See Us, Heroes, Dear White People, Lost, Grey’s Anatomy--with diverse casts, multiple location settings, voiceovers, flashbacks, and deep story lines told in empathizable ways. Art tells such interesting stories about human experience!
G. Mr. Robot, The Great Hack, or other fictional / documentary programs about the ways that technology shapes our world and changes people. The internet is a notably nifty active part of contemporary human lives!
H. Orphan Black, biohacking documentaries, Battlestar Galactica, Humans, or anything on artificial intelligence that shows technological altering of humans, contemplates the possibility of human consciousness being uploaded to machinery, or offering related depictions of creations of AI with human consciousness. The future of humanity and artificial humanity is possibly awesome! (or possibly a doomsday!) (Thus, significant either way!)
I. Planet Earth or other documentaries focused on animal life. The diversity of species on earth are beyond cool!
2. It’s about to be summer vacation. If it’s paid for, where are you going?
A.1 Or maybe on the next “Anthropology of Death” study abroad course, replete with gravedigging experience (read: formal cemetery survey and excavation field experience conducted with local permission) and osteology labwork (bone damage identification) that reveals new info on the Irish famine, The Bubonic Plague, or a case of mistaken disease attribution during high casualty epidemics.
B. A tour of summer festivals where fans gather to listen to music, stand up for their communities, and bond via social rituals that increase enjoyment of each other’s company.
B.1.Or maybe a religious site with other clear rituals, such as Lourdes, France, where Catholics travel from around the world to receive blessing and healing from the local historical figure of St. Bernadette, or the wailing wall and similar sites in Israel/near Palestine sacred to Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities. Just somewhere steeped in culture and community.
C. Any place that they speak the language I am most fascinated with or which has the coolest artifacts of ancient texts is good to me!
E. I’d rather spend the break volunteering or doing work in a way that helps a community[/ies], either here or abroad. Anywhere I can make a difference is great!
F. Southeast Asia, where gender is in revolution and South Korean K-pop bands abound. F.1. Washington, DC. These political performances in the white house and congress sessions need someone paying attention!
G. I’ll stay home. I could use the extra time to catch up with buddies online, in fandom, video games, or social media communities.
H. Who needs to leave the house physically when you can leave mentally? A virtual reality destination of my choice sounds like the best vacation to me!
I. An animal sanctuary, to volunteer assistance with the care and well treatment of endangered, protected, or other wild animal species, including 'pets' that humans later realized shouldn't be in captivity but who are too domesticated to survive the wild.
3. Out of the following school subjects, which is your favorite / do you find the most fascinating?
A. Biology and life sciences (human focus)
B. Social and behavioral sciences
C. Humanities such as Communication and English
D. Geology, physics, or other earth sciences.
E. Economics and political science.
F. Theater, Music, Art
G. Computer science.
I. Biology and life sciences (animal focus)
4. What potential cool things would you most like out of your career?
A. A white coat license to do experiments, conducting medical or genetic lab procedures on biological matter ranging from bones to bacteria to DNA. The chance to study inheritance, evolution, diet, disease, and human biology/physiology.
B. Broadened horizons--a chance to travel, talk with people about the things they find important, see the ways unfamiliar social groups live life, and learn how social actors shape, and are shaped by, communities.
C. The opportunity to watch movies, television, and public performances, to read copiously, to listen deeply during conversations and performances, and to decode written, spoken, and performed linguistic and symbolic content for meaning and context.
C.1. The skillset to analyze language and dialect shifts over time, to understand sign language or Morse code, or to see how language is used in the present in ways unique to particular communities.
D. The opportunity to spend time outdoors, stretching your legs at a field site for months at a time; to not worry about office dress codes (as your clothes will be dirty, anyhow), and to feel (at least, a little bit) like you’re treasure hunting / to fulfill a little bit of the mythic nostalgic wish to discover significant stories of the past.
D.1. The challenge to build a Mesolithic timber hut with only the items you find in a narrow slice of the now UK region that people in 8000 BC filled with Mesolithic timber huts, or to figure out how spears were fashioned out of stone, before the days where metal was common, or to see how people can cook without pots and pans, or conduct otherwise sometimes-weird experiments to try to figure out how humans built major sites or created items for specialized uses in human eras prior to the technological mechanization of production.
D.3 ...or to spend the day in the lab, washing, weighing, measuring, describing, categorizing , and researching cool artifacts and other found items at archaeological sites—puzzling and piecing together clues on when the items were made, who used them, how they were disposed of and at what time, as well as what their purpose may have been.
E. Being able to make a difference in the lives of people in the community that you are studying. The chance to do something of purpose, to impact a social issue of vital importance, in the name of reducing suffering, seeking justice, and/or assisting in organizational problem identification and implementation.
F. The chance to attend, witness, analyze, film, and/or produce public and private/community events, performances, demonstrations, and visual media. The chance to use photography, theater, film, and/or critical theory in your work for a good cause or deeper understanding.
G. Getting to work from a remote location but still feel like you are stepping into a community site. The ability to use computers, technology, and the internet to communicate with others, witness community engagement with events, seek out participants and contacts, develop network knowledge, and learn more about why people participate in digital community as a valued and valuable way of engaging with others who hold similar hobbies, interests, and goals.
H. The requirement to keep up to date with the latest technological advances—what they are, how people use them, and how the use of these technologies are changing what it means to be human, the ways that people adapt to new settings, and the ways tech shapes our worlds as we increasingly integrate it to body compatibility—as well as to be informed on the philosophical and ethical questions associated with increasing reliance on mechanization, artificial intelligence, and technological means of addressing human issues.
I. Getting to work with animals, particularly primates--caring for and communicating with bonobos, chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, or other ape-cousins of humans via symbols or sign language--and/or to study primate evolution.
5. What potential dangers do you not mind facing?
A. The sight of blood! (occasionally) The chance of infection! (very slim) (read: exposure to biological elements that are harmless if handled right, and the tedium of lab work.) (excuse the humorous exclamation marks)
B. Culture shock, strange foods, limited privacy, awkward moments at unfamiliar customs, the need to adapt or explain your differences of choice with tact and respect, to toe the line between sharing about yourself and redirecting focus onto participants (i.e.-when asked about your own personal religious beliefs, fulfillment of expected gender roles(why you don’t have kids), or other private detail inquiry.
C. Controversy, if your linguistic analysis is over social or political performances. The pressure from state or local entities to change the nature of your research.
D. Dirty clothes, sweaty days. Potential exposure to critter-crawlers [including occasional ones that require medical treatment /prevention]. Boredom during cataloging less thrilling artifact finds, like thousands of glass shards from one site that are mostly from different era soda bottles.
D.2 Controversy, if your archaeology project provides a different narrative about truth than the myths supported by a local government or dominant group of social power
E. Controversy, if your applied project is a part of global efforts to fight oppression or focus on disempowered groups.
F. Difficulties of in-field filming—with lugging equipment, gaining informed consent to use audio/visual/filmed material, and other filming/editing difficulties. Increases in the observer effect -- pronounced shifts in community behavior in response to the intrusive awareness of being recorded (especially on film). Controversy over your visual analysis of a community event, especially if the event is put on by the government (i.e.- a military parade.)
G. The difficulties of gaining information solely from online, digital community sources. The loss of presence that may accompany a project forsaking in-person participant observation, and therefore, the loss of the human element in interviews. The possibility of text to misconstrue or lack additional insight that participants may more willingly talk about with in-person conversation.
H. Controversy of the ethical questions surrounding biohacking, artificial intelligence, and increasingly automated work.
I. Difficulties or dangers of working with animals (more likely if protocols are not followed).
6. What skills are you good at / do you enjoy, or think you could enjoy enough to learn through practice?
A. Playing [erg. working...] with lab equipment such as microscopes, magnifying glasses, and other investigative tools. Handling delicate materials. Visual identification of cells, bones, and other anatomical/biological matter. The ability to notice small differences in damaged items and figure out what happened—such as noticing evidence on a skeleton of lifetime diet and disease or trauma before, at, or after death.
B. Listening deeply, asking the right questions to hear the best stories of experience others have to share, codeswitching in different settings, being good with people. Remaining curious but reserving judgment. Talking and engaging with people in a respectful and inquisitive manner.
C. Paying close attention, and analyzing meaning and symbolism in everyday conversations, public discourse, politician /public official rhetoric, media, music, and art.
D. Playing (erg, working....) in the dirt and with drones. Identifying items visually—particular rocks, stones, minerals, metals, glasses, and other artifacts, as well as site markers like building posts, middens (trash pits), and landscape evidence of human or animal activity. Using sciences like geology to identify site information. Learning GIS Software to make maps of sites that help track and analyze data about information found. Using software and hardware technologies in site identification, excavation, survey, and artifact analysis.
E. Negotiating; the need to identify allies and forge alliances, to navigate field dangers that include disagreeable opposition, to engage in skillful discourse save some of your analysis for the page rather than the conversation; to remain curious about and give dignity to multiple narratives on a situation, and to refuse over-simplified judgment, opting instead for deep report analysis.
E.1. Designing a set of standards to evaluate a community or organizational network or issues that may be present. Applying those standards in evaluation. Communicating with communities that have a vested interest in project materials being protected, returned to them, or in having direct involvement with the research process.
F. Photographing, making art of, or filming events. Carefully observing and analyzing behavior, symbolism, and representation in public, media, news, or social media performances
G. Surfing online. Engaging, observing, and talking with online community site members. Deciphering online language and symbolism.
H. Trying out the latest AI systems, mastering software and hardware that transform human tasks, playing on virtual reality systems, watching updates on the latest advancements in technology that affects the human body/mind in terms of aging, functioning, preservation, activity, and regeneration.
I. Taking care of pets and other non-human animals. Learning to communicate in ways that go beyond written and spoken language. Studying the history of primate evolution, learning, and behavior.
7. What grunt work do you not mind doing?
A. Lab work involving chemistry and/or medical tasks. Recording really good notes on experiments.
B. Transcription of files. Recording really good notes on witnessed activities/participant observation.
C. Literature and Media Reviews. Recording really good notes on witnessed performances/media.
D. Lab-work that requires meticulous examination, study [measuring, weighing, describing multiple variables-function, material, age], and cataloging of items
E. Producing informed consent forms and other paperwork for participants, consultants, sponsors, the internal review board, and/or research advisers.
F. Dealing with sensitive camera equipment, difficulties getting good video quality (due to unexpected interferences, interruptions, and lack of ‘staging’ for lighting and noise in the field), the wait on getting footage developed. Recording really good notes/video/photos on witnessed activities/media.
G. Slogging through community blogs and discussion boards, even when the content may be boring, objectionable, offensive, or lacking the information you are looking for or thought you would find.
H. Research on engineering and technology developments; public outreach on the implications of our increasingly technologized human selves.
I. Cleaning up after, feeding, caring for, and being very patient while working with animals.
8. What future course load sounds most appealing to you?
A. Human Variation; Diet, Demography and Disease; Forensic Anthropology.
B. Anthropology of Europe; African Studies; Latin American Studies; [Other Area/Cultural Studies]; Death and the Afterlife; Modernity and Identity; Urban Anthropology; Kinship and Family; Classic and Contemporary Ethnographic Literature.
C. Language and Social Justice; Language: Origins and Use; Contemporary Discourse.
D. Archaeology of Southeastern United States; Heritage Preservation and Cultural Resource Management; Field Methods of Excavation and Survey.
E. Contemporary Social Solutions; Anthropology of Social Change; Applied Anthropology.
F. Visual Anthropology and Contemporary Media; Anthropology of Performance.G. Exploring Digital Communities; Conducting Virtual Ethnography.H. Cyborgs, Technology, and the Future.
9. Out of the following groups of research studies, which sounds the most interesting?
A. Bone Deterioration Due to Domesticated Rodent Scavenging; "Till Death Us Do Part: The Evolution of Monogamy; Analysis of Nutritional Disease in Prehistory: The History of the Search for Scurvy and Other Specific Deficiencies; Brushing Off the Dust: Transitionary Diet at the site of Cerro del Oro; Differential Diagnosis and Discussion of a Large Nasal Neoplasm from a Late Bronze Age Athenian Male; Extrinsic Effects of Cranial Modification: A Case Study of Cranial Porosity and Cranial Modification Intensity in Late Intermediate Period (AD 1000 - AD 1400) Andahuaylas, Peru.
A.2- The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures; Pathologies of the West: An Anthropology of Mental Illness in Europe and America; Transnational Health Seeking Behavior of Bangladeshi People Living in Atlanta; Medical Music: Anthropological Perspectives on Music Therapy. Traditional Healing and Medical Pluralism in an Ohio Amish Community. An Uncertain Cure: Living with Leprosy in Rio de Janeiro.
B. Creative Urbanity: An Italian Middle Class in the Shade of Revitalization. Both Ends of the Leash: Pit Bull Ownership and Activism in Atlanta, Georgia; Holy Bass: Spirituality in Electronic Dance Music Culture; Embrace of Shelter: The Cultural Hybridism of Athenian Roma”; Inaka ga Kokoro ni Fureru: The Practices and Parlance of Cultural Exchange in the Japan-America Grassroots Summit.
C. The Everyday Language of White Racism; Redefining Nairobi's Streets: Study of Slang, Marginalization, and Identity. Identity as Politics, Politics as Identity: An Anthropological Examination of the Political Discourse on Same-Sex Marriage.
D. The Atlanta Phoenix Project: Applications of Gamification for Online Civic Engagement; The MARTA Collection: An Investigation of an Archaeological Legacy and Cache of History; Come to The Cypress Pond: The Archaeological Survey of an Antebellum Plantation.
E. Needle Exchange: Social Value for Outreach Workers; Watching for Wolves: Perspectives on Policing Among Experienced Officers in Atlanta; Educational Considerations for Refugee And Migrant Children in the United States.
G. Ethnographic Research 2.0 The potentialities of emergent digital technologies for qualitative organizational research; Power/freedom on the dark web: A digital ethnography of the Dark Web Social Network; Active engagement with stigmatized communities through digital ethnography.
H. Anthropology and the future: New technologies and the reinvention of culture; Do Cyborgs Desire Their Own Subjection? Thinking Anthropology with Cinematic Science Fiction; Cyborgs in the Everyday: Masculinity and Biosensing Prostate Cancer.
I. Synthetic primatology: what humans and chimpanzees do in a Japanese laboratory and the African field. The Genetic Basis of Primate Behavior: Genetics and Genomics in Field-Based Primatology; Diet and the Dietary Niches of the Malagasy Subfossil Lemurs: An Analysis of Dental Microwear, Dental Proportions, and Grit Accumulation.
Tally your responses- Mostly A’s, Mostly B’s, Mostly C’s—and so on. Whichever letter- category has the highest number of responses is your result!
A. Biological Anthropologist:
Whether studying forensics, evolution, and/or genetics, you have preference for learning about human biology and physiology, solving mysteries from murder to malnutrition to mutation. Your field skills may include preserving and recording a site of found remains (ancient or recent), identifying if bones belong to humans or other animals, spotting telltale signs of identity and past experiences on bones, evaluating evolutionary details of found primate fossils, or dating remains to approximate time of death or deposition (though in contemporary cases, coroners make the final/official declarations). Your lab skills may include staring down the barrel of a microscope, examining cells, studying DNA, and/or cataloging bones and other biological matter. You will do well if you take additional courses on microbiology, osteology, forensic identification, and the history of human evolution, adaptation, and variation.
A.1 Medical Anthropologist:
Health fascinates you, but you’re not so sure about being the person to work directly with biological materials or people’s bodies. Instead, however, you wish to study practices concerning illness and healing from an ethnographic perspective—using social cultural methods but applying them to health settings in the act of interviewing and observing medical professionals, healing specialists, and/or patients. You may take a cross-cultural perspective on what healing practices exist, how they are used, or how particular illnesses are defined. You may also dive deep into one particular place setting to see how specific diagnoses are lived with by individuals, and how communities shape understanding and practice surrounding healing rituals. Classes in public health can help supplement your pursuits in bio-anthropology theory and social cultural anthropology methods. Your goal is to understand the human impact of socially shaped definitions of illnesses and practices of healing.
B. Social-Cultural Anthropologist:
Whether stepping into an unfamiliar community or deconstructing your own social group, you find challenges that involve talking with people and visiting community event sites equally rewarding. You like witnessing rituals, gaining insight into social customs, decoding community language (spoken, written, and symbolically performed), and identifying patterns and diversity in people’s beliefs, understandings, and ways of life. You don’t mind recruiting on-site contacts as research informants, putting together visual maps for network analysis of the connections people in a community have to each other, setting up individual or focus group interviews, designing surveys for some mixed methods statistical crossover, or coding and analyzing collected data. You just like getting to know people, and in this career, that is a huge asset. You may also conduct ethnohistories, utilizing a wide array of archived sources, or ethnologies--cross-cultural comparative accounts of a particular institution or practice. It is essential to immerse yourself in anthropology itself as well as philosophy and identity studies seminars on race, gender, sexuality, and class--though also prudent for employability to take cross over classes with sociology and/or marketing.
C. Linguistic Anthropologist:
Human expression fascinates you. You like decoding community speech, writing, art, gestures, and other symbolic messages. Whether studying the evolution of language capabilities, particular dialects' organization of linguistic elements (phonemes, morphemes,) into words, or expanding knowledge of the tree of language with particular details on eras of language or symbols shifts (through examination of books, art, and even cemetery plots), language is your jam. You don’t mind reading or examining things for long periods of time at a desk, as you are the type to be engrossed when there’s a puzzle to put together. It is recommended to take classes in both Anthropology and Linguistics, as well as a particular language, to further your goals in this niche field.
You would recreate the past if you could. Looking at the scope of both past and present worlds that human have built boggled your mind at first glance, and you’ve been trying to get more information ever since. Whether studying past building sites or collections of artifacts, you attempt to piece these things into context via historical records and scientific analysis. If into experimental arch (D2), you also attempt to recreate items made in eras where technology and resources were very different. If you get into underwater arch (D3), you may find yourself scuba diving. In most cases, however, you don’t mind setting up field grids composed of precise squares, using tech both in the field (to discover details on buried items in survey when excavation is not possible, to discover a site from a walking or drone or plane’s eye view, to excavate the area when the expense is taken, and to map the specific vertical-horizontal coordinates of artifacts found) or in the lab (to clean, measure, weigh, reveal, and date artifacts—through a wide variety of techniques). The biggest reward is solving the mystery of when, where, how, and by whom something was used—especially if it has significance to notable historical events such as migration, war, government, natural disaster, or another famous incident. It is helpful to take additional classes in geology and computer science.
E. Applied Anthropologist:
You have similar tendencies to social-cultural, biological, linguistic or archaeological anthropologists, but you go beyond this. It particularly irks you that so many social organizations try to solve community problems without consulting people on the ground to gain a better understanding of local actors’ motivations, goals, and stakes in organizational changes being made. You consider the impact of research--as a tool for organizational/social change, as a practice with political implications connected to repatriation of human remains and community artifacts as well as to conflicts that go beyond the ‘fly-on-the-wall’ methods of data collection to the need for side-taking in matters of injustice (such as identifying victims and perpetrators of genocide or murder). You also thus see it as a practice requiring integrity. Your goals may include successful communication with multiple stakeholders who have conflicting interests in a public / community issue and convincing people with very different interests to compromise or take the particular side of evidence and humanistic values. Along with responsibilities of the other subfield(s) that you have co-experience in, you don’t mind writing grant proposals for funding, performing organizational program evaluation, or designing structured improvement measures, policy, or law recommendations that take into foremost account the people served by, hurt by, or laboring in studied communities/and organizations. Classes on organizational leadership, non-profit management, policy analysis, or public health stand as good supplements to a solid immersion in the anthropology subfield of your choice. You're convinced that the right solution is found through evidence-based solutions that consider both human experience and material data analysis, and intend to use this fact to change the world.
F. Visual and Performance Anthropologists.
Your research may be similar to the other fields, particularly social-cultural and applied anthropology, but just writing about your research or just analyzing human narratives in the communities is insufficient. Instead you engage with visual and performance media—either creating projects where your data is presented in visual and/or film form, and/or centering your research on the visual and performance elements of the community studied. This can involve studying community performances of resistance and protest, analyzing the visual- and performance-based aspects of community events such as festivals, sports, and government/military spectacles, and/or making filmed ethnographies intended to fully encapsulate conversations with individual community members. Classes in critical theory or in the fine arts field relevant to your project interests can give a unique edge to a visual or performance anthropologist career. You like to get creative with research presentations, and this brings ethnography and anthropology to a wider audience in awesome ways.
G. Digital Ethnographer.
You research communities from behind the remote access of your computer screen, interested in the ways people are using technology to find social connection with other members of their fandom or identifying group. You feel that the fact that people make community space in the absence of an actual place is an innovative adaptation incorporated into our social realities that should be studied. This involves finding, reading, and communicating with members of particular social groups over online discussion boards, forums, informative websites, and comment sections. You don’t mind the computer work, enjoy computer science classes, and like that people have found ways to humanize computer activities.
H. Cyborg Anthropologist.
You research the ways that human biology is affected by integrations of technology, from transformed relationships between people and the machines that we use in our lives to the ways new technologies alter human bodily capabilities—as well as the ethical implications of knowing we can, but questioning if we should. This involves an inquiry into responsible adaptations of technology that change human physiology, learning, communication, labor, politics, and use of virtual realities as well as artificial intelligence. An introduction to computer learning and/or engineering can help deepen your understanding of cyborg studies. You like to contemplate an informed view of what the future might look like, and predict that machines will continue to change everything.
Your research focuses on primate evolution, from lemurs to apes to humans (and the many other related species). You may study in the lab fossilized, found, or recreated skeletons of humans and other primates, both contemporary and past; the goal here is to identify patterns of evolution and timing of anatomical and physiological shifts /speciation events (when a new species emerges). Your field work focuses on working with primates themselves, particularly bonobos, chimpanzees, or other ape evolutionary cousins to the human species. You may take care of primates, teaching these animals a local dialect of sign language, how to use technology that involves symbolic / pictorial representation along with spoken words, and try to determine how far communication and cognition of non-human primates compares to human capabilities. You'd benefit from both biology and linguistic courses. You love animals and bringing greater understanding of evolution to understanding our pasts and our possible futures. .
Author: A. Hannah Spadafora
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