Genetics is the science that deals with the study of heredity. Heredity refers to the passing of traits from one generation to the next. Gregor Johann Mendel is known as the father of modern genetics.


According to the Cambridge Dictionary- Genetics is the study of how, in all living things, the characteristics and qualities of parents are given to their children by their genes.

According to Britannica- Human genetics is the study of the inheritance of characteristics by children from parents.


Anthropology and genetics seem far from each other but they are not. We can understand this through an example. The population found in the mountainous region are differently adapted to survive in their environment. Their genetic construction is different from the people living on the plains. Anthropologists study how natural selection affects the productivity of the population. Genetics plays an important role in the natural selection process. When people from the plains visit the mountains, they suffer from altitude sickness. This is nothing but genetic diversity.

Anthropological Genetics

Anthropologists more focus on the traits inherited from one generation to the next which later shape human variations. Anthropologists find the questions related to human biology and cultural diversity. Anthropology and genetics help find the impacts of technological and cultural transformation in human history in genomic variations. Anthropology is concerned with human nature, the interaction between society and the environment and human variation.

Genetics and Anthropology (Pic- NYU Abu Dhabi)

Human genetics studies inheritance in human beings. Genetics is all about differences, if we have no differences then we are just clones. We need differences for genetics to exist. We as humans are different from each other for example Americans, Chinese, and Indians are different from each other. But within a population, like Africans or Chinese, they seem similar but at the genetic level, all are different.

In genetic anthropology, anthropologists determine relations between different groups through the similarities and differences found among the population. They try to find the society’s mating patterns and changes in the population size. They explore the range of variability within the population. They involve themselves in the current situation of the human race.

They use common tools like mutation, gene migration, gene flow, genetic drift, recombination etc. They study ethnographic and historical records of the population under study.


With the efforts of genetics and anthropology, cures for various deadly diseases are found. Physical anthropology is more close to genetics than cultural anthropology. There are ethical issues regarding the integration of genetics with anthropology but still, the relationship between genetics and anthropology has evolved a lot.

Genetics help in identifying how the disease mutates from one species to another and also tells about the patterns of mutation against drug resistance. This helps to cure humans faster through the development advance medicines.

To understand the role of anthropology in medicine, go through the link- Medical Anthropology


Where Anthropology and Genetics Go Together

The Origins of Anthropological Genetics


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