Why a scientific historical approach to paleoanthropology

The present review of the historical development of paleoanthropology as a multifaceted biological subject is intended to focus on its cultural and social background and its many problematic time-specific aspects. This historical point of view promises some explanations concerning the following aspects:

• Which paradigmatic changes in evolutionary thinking guided the field of paleoanthropological research?

• Which cultural, social, and scientific reasons decelerated or accelerated the progress of paleoanthropology?

• Which outstanding scientists and what ideas brought about the integration of biological, geological, and archeological research?

• What was the country-specific impact on the constitution of paleoanthropo-logical research?

• What underlies the successive development from Darwinism to neo-Darwinism, and of the Synthetic Theory and "Modern Synthesis,'' respectively to the System Theory of Evolution as the concept and strategy of paleoanthropological research?

• Is paleoanthropology a fossil- and/or media-driven science, triggered by the discovery and public advertisement of exceptional hominin fossils?

• What is the impact of innovative biological techniques in times of multimedia on current paleoanthropology and its image?

• If the accusation is correct that many paleoanthropologists offer poorly researched but media-friendly "findings" (White 2000), how can historic studies on paleoanthropology contribute to a new orientation?

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