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Anthropology Memes: The Funny Side of Physical Anthropology

The word "meme" on a bulletin board
In the last post, I shared some Anthropology-related memes and cartoons focusing on Archaeology. In today’s post, I’ll be sharing some memes and cartoons relating to Physical Anthropology. For each meme/cartoon, I’ll be explaining things for anyone who doesn’t have an Anthropology background. Also, I’ll share a link with some more information in case you are interested.

#1:

Here’s the first cartoon, which involves coming out as a Homo sapien:
Young man talking to his parents, who are apes.
“I don’t know how to put this, so I’ll just come right out and say it…Mom, Dad – I’m a Homo sapien.”

Why is this funny?

This cartoon is playing off the idea of a teenager “coming out” as a homosexual to their parents. But, instead the character is coming out as a Homo sapien (the scientific name for humans) to his parents. And, the parents are apes, which plays off the idea of evolution.
I debated including this cartoon because it makes light of the “coming out” process. I decided to include it as I felt it could be used as a teaching tool. “Coming out” as a homosexual (or other sexual orientation) is usually a very difficult process for people of any age, and is not something funny. To learn about what it’s like being LGBTQIA around the world, check out this article from the Guardian.

Learn More

To learn more about Homo sapiens, read this article by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

#2:

This next cartoon is about Anthropology & relationships:
Man inspecting a bone with a magnifying glass while a woman talks to him as they sit at a table and eat.
“You’re doing it again, using anthropology to avoid discussing our relationship.”

Why is this funny?

The male anthropologist is studying the bones leftover from his meal, and ignoring his significant other. Physical/biological anthropologists study human bones, which is called osteology. Some anthropologists also study animal bones through archaeozoology (also known as zooarchaeology).

Learn More

To learn more about studying animal bones in archaeological contexts, check out this article on the MSU Campus Archaeology Program’s website.

#3:

This meme is about naming your child after an anthropological discovery:
Names kid Australopithecus afarensis...calls her Lucy
“Names kid Australopithecus afarensis…calls her Lucy”

Why is this funny?

Australopithecus afarensis is the scientific name for a species of early humans that lived between 3.85 and 2.95 million years ago in East Africa. “Lucy” is the nickname given to the first A. afarensis skeleton found. This nickname came from the Beatles’ song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” which the team of scientists listened to when they were back at camp.

Learn More

To learn more about Australopithecus afarensis, check out this page of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s website.

#4:

This cartoon is also about an anthropological discovery:
Scientists on a rock ledge finding Lucy from the peanuts comic in the rocks.
Rocking the anthropological world, a second “Lucy” is discovered in southern Uganda.

Why is this funny?

This carton also references the “Lucy” fossil. It says that a second “Lucy” is discovered by scientists, but this “Lucy” is not Australopithecus afarensis, but instead is the “Lucy” from the famous Peanuts comic.

Learn More

To learn more about Lucy, the early human species, check out this page of the London Natural History Museum’s website.

#5:

This cartoon is about primates:
A female ape grooming a male ape in a tree.
“Well, well – another blond hair. Conducting a little more ‘research’ with that Jane Goodall tramp?”

Why is this funny?

One female ape is grooming a male ape and finds a blond hair, and suggests the male ape was spending time with Jane Goodall. Jane Goodall is a famous primatologist and anthropologist (with blond hair) who studied wild chimpanzees. Studying primates is one of the specializations within the field of Physical/Biological Anthropology.

Learn More

To learn more about Jane Goodall and her discoveries, check out this biography on the Britannica website.

#6:

This next cartoon is about referring someone to an Anthropologist:
Doctor sitting at a desk across from a Neanderthal.
“I’d like you to see an Anthropologist.”

Why is this funny?

The professional in this cartoon is referring his patient to an Anthropologist. The patient appears to be a Neanderthal, based on the “caveman” clothing and the low sloping forehead. Physical/Biological anthropologists study human evolution, which includes Neanderthals.

Learn More

To learn more about Neanderthals, check out this page of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s website.

#7:

This last meme is about forensic anthropology class:
Sitting in forensic anthropology class...thinking of the proper way to dispose of a body.
Sitting in forensic anthropology class…thinking of the proper way to dispose of a body.

Why is this funny?

In forensic anthropology class, you learn about the process of body decomposition and factors that tend to slow it or speed it up. So, many forensic anthropology students joke around about knowing the best way to have a body decompose.

Learn More

To learn more about the process of human body decomposition, check out this article from the Guardian.

Did You Enjoy These Physical Anthropology Memes & Cartoons?

I hope you enjoyed viewing these memes and cartoons about Physical Anthropology!
Thanks for reading!