Human beings are the products of millions of years of evolution by natural selection. Sometime in the last 5 million years, natural selection created a creature with a very large brain that walked upright, was adept at making and using tools, developed language, and came to rely heavily on imitation, social learning, and culture. Biological anthropologists study all facets of this process. Biological anthropology is interesting and important because an evolutionary perspective provides a rich source of insight about why we are the way we are.
The program in biological anthropology at UCLA focuses on four areas of research:
The program in biological anthropology at UCLA differs from programs at other institutions in two important ways. First, we place strong emphasis on evolutionary processes that mold behavior. Faculty within the subfield are commited to understanding how these processes have shaped the behavior of living primates, fossil hominids, and contemporary humans. Second, we take the role of culture seriously. The faculty share an interest in how and why culture emerged, and how culture interacts with other processes to shape behavior.