Growth of a species, an association, a science: 80 years of growth and development research

Authors

  • Richard J. Sherwood,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Community Health, Wright State University, Dayton, OH 45420
    2. Department of Pediatrics, Wright State University, Dayton, OH 45404
    3. Department of Orthodontics, School of Dental Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106
    • Department of Community Health, 3171 Research Blvd., Wright State University, Dayton, OH 45420, USA
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  • Dana L. Duren

    1. Department of Community Health, Wright State University, Dayton, OH 45420
    2. Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, Wright State University, Dayton, OH 45409
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Abstract

Physical anthropological research was codified in the United States with the creation of the American Association of Physical Anthropology (AAPA) in 1929. That same year, a study began in yellow springs, Ohio, with a goal of identifying “what makes people different.” The approach used to answer that question was to study the growth and development of Homo sapiens. The resulting study, the Fels Longitudinal Study, is currently the longest continuous study of human growth and development in the world. Although the AAPA and the Fels Longitudinal Study have existed as separate entities for more than 80 years now, it is not surprising, given the relationship between anatomical and developmental research, there has been considerable overlap between the two. As the field of physical anthropology has blossomed to include subdisciplines such as forensics, genetics, primatology, as well as sophisticated statistical methodologies, the importance of growth and development research has escalated. Although current Fels Longitudinal Study research is largely directed at biomedical questions, virtually all findings are relevant to physical anthropology, providing insights into basic biological processes and life history parameters. Some key milestones from the early years of the AAPA and the Fels Longitudinal Study are highlighted here that address growth and development research in physical anthropology. These are still held as fundamental concepts that underscore the importance of this line of inquiry, not only across the subdisciplines of physical anthropology, but also among anthropological, biological, and biomedical inquiries. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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