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Anthropological Sciences 320

ANSC 320: Human Osteology

Prerequisite: ANSC 302 or ANTH 120, or permission of instructor

Credit Hours: (4) Three hours lecture; three hours laboratory

An examination of the human skeletal system, including discussions of the nature and functions of bone, techniques for the identification of bone, and methods of study of human bone in an anthropological as well as forensic (legal) context.

Note(s): Students cannot receive credit for both ANTH 320 and ANSC 320



Detailed Description of Content of Course

The study of the human skeletal system is basic to the discipline of physical anthropology. This course will examine the fundamentals of such a study, and in so doing, students will learn to not only identify and analyze human bone, but evaluate and interpret major research in physical anthropology which has as its basis the analysis of bone. A more detailed course outline is as follows:

1. A detailed consideration of the basic properties, growth, development, and function of bone in the human body.
2. An examination of all major skeletal structures and the morphological features associated with them, with the focus being the function of these structures within the body as well as the identification of fragmentary remnants of them in a forensic and prehistoric context.
3. Major techniques used in physical anthropology to analyze human bone, such as determination of age at death, sex, race, cause of death, stature, and nutritional status.
4. Critical evaluation of major research studies in physical anthropology involving analysis of human bone.
5. Consideration of ethical issues in the curation of human bone.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Course material will be presented within a traditional lecture format; however, more informal laboratory-style participation by students studying human skeletal anatomy will be engaged in as well. This will include the use of comparative articulated and disarticulated human skeletons and skeletal fragments. Only in this manner will students obtain a working knowledge of human skeletal structure.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

After completing this course, students will:

1. have a comprehensive understanding of the human skeletal system, including the nature and function of bone, the identification of bone and bony fragments in an anthropological context, and the interpretation of morphological features of bone for physical
anthropological research
2. obtain hands-on experience with the curation, identification, and analysis of human bone, and will learn how these data are utilized to answer significant anthropological research questions;
3. learn about ethical treatment of human bone, in light of major moral dilemmas facing anthropology today (for example, the reburial of Native American skeletal material);
4. be exposed to an anthropological approach to the study of the skeletal structure of humans.


Assessment Measures

Students will be expected to be able to identify fragmentary human bone. Thus, in addition to standard in-class examinations of course topics, practicums involving the identification of actual human bone will be given at regular intervals throughout the course. In addition, completion of a small research paper focusing on the analysis of human bone may be required.


Other Course Information

Students who wish may be allowed to participate in on-going skeletal research of prehistoric and/or forensic human remains, if these occur during the semester.


Review and Approval

January 2004 Reviewed

December, 2009