One of the major discoveries in the field was how to track lineage through mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosomes, in effect, to tracking the origins of the modern humankind to human’s African genetic ancestors.
Other sub-fields of the discipline include: The primary focus of cultural anthropology, also referred to as social anthropology and ethnology, is the study of human culture.
Understanding human’s closest relatives, the primates, helps understand the evolutionary process from ape to man.
Primatologists, such as Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey, have pioneered research observing primates in the wild, noting behavior that would have been common to human ancestors.
Non-European societies were thus seen as evolutionary "living fossils," which could be studied in order to understand the European past.
Scholars wrote histories of prehistoric migrations that were sometimes valuable, but often also fanciful.
Johanson, Paul Abell, and Mary, Louis, and Richard Leakey among others.
There was a tendency in late eighteenth-century Enlightenment thought to understand human society as natural phenomena that behaved in accordance with certain principles and that could be observed empirically.
Physical anthropology’s origins actually lie in the geology revolution, when the Earth was revealed to be much older than the previously accepted biblical scale, and fossilized human remains and tools spurred the debate of "man's antiquity." Coupled with Charles Darwin's explosive theory of evolution, physical anthropology became the leading authority on the evidence of human evolution.
By the mid-twentieth century, a general geneological tree of human ancestors had been established, based upon fossils discovered by Donald C.
Anthropology is methodologically diverse, using both qualitative and quantitative methods, such as firsthand case studies of living cultures, careful excavations of material remains, and interpretations of both living and extinct linguistic practices.
In North America and other Western cultures, anthropology is traditionally broken down into four main divisions: physical anthropology, archaeology, cultural anthropology (also known as social anthropology), and linguistic anthropology.