The Contribution of Biological Anthropology (BABAO)

Committed to improving our understanding of our species, the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO) has been working since 1998 to encourage discussion and research on human remains and past ancestors to unlock more knowledge on human beings as a species.

This association was born as a result of the excavations lead in the UK that revealed numerous amounts of human remains.

BABAO holds annual conferences to discuss recent findings and promote more intensive biological anthropology research. They hold the belief that through the study of human remains and their ancestors while simultaneously studying modern humans and closely-related apes, the broader field of anthropology can have a better understanding of “what it is to be human”.

Dealing with human remains, there are certain ethical criteria that must be met. BABAO has clearly outlined their code of ethics and standards within their website, reassuring that any and all research dealing with human remains is done in the most dignified and respectful way possible. They are also committed to a very gracious method of reburial of the remains used.

Associations such as BABAO are integral to the field of anthropology as a whole.

Several approaches and branches of anthropology deal with the study of human remains. BABAO is involved with several of them, including: primatology, hominines, medical anthropology, forensic anthropology, and bioarchaeology. All of which contribute to the larger study of anthropology.

By examining human fossils, one can gain a better understanding of the evolution of the human form – how and why certain bones came to be or how some became vestigial structures. Height differences, skull shapes, and differing sizes of varying parts of the body are all links to when the remains of that individual lived.

Primatology helps us understand our places in nature. By studying current primates, their rate of evolution, and the similarities between our ancestors and their current form, we can better understand human society as it operated back then. The study of hominines, a subspecies of human, helps to do the same.

Naturally, as BABAO studies medical anthropology through their excavations, they can discover the different ways illnesses shaped the evolutionary process of man, contributing to our broader understanding of human society.

While forensic anthropology is mostly the legal application of the process, in helping law enforcement solve crimes and identify victims, it is still helpful in adding to our knowledge of the results of different causes of death and how the human body reacts to different traumas.

Bioarchaeology is more or less the same as Osteoarchaeology in as it deals with the study of human skeletons. Again, this is useful as it enlightens scientists on the evolution and changing forms of humans throughout the eons.

Certainly fields dealing with human remains are the most “hands-on” one can be with the study of our past ancestors. Studies such as these were integral in forming the “evolution of man” links and discovering the process of human form from about 15,000 years ago to today.

Anthropology is mainly the study of human society, covering everything from the moment man came into existence till today. BABAO, within its multiple branches of expertise, can contribute to this broader field by showcasing the altering human shape, the accompanying evolutionary advantages and disadvantages, and the changes these brought about in human society from different eras.

One thought on “The Contribution of Biological Anthropology (BABAO)

  1. First, I think it is wise that the BABAO holds itself to a certain ethical criteria in that they deal with human remains in the most dignified and respectful way. While reading your post, I kept thinking about how everyone’s topics can all be related. Obviously they all have to do with physical anthropology, but the excavations and they examination of human fossils can be connected with archaeology. Also they medical anthropology is so important to help us understand the spread of diseases and the way it shapes society. As I keep reading, it’s great that BABAO has many different branches to help connect the sub-categories within physical anthropology. I wonder what types of topics they discuss at their annual conferences. They must promote research for their vast variety of sub-categories. I also wonder if some take precedence over others?

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