Over the last 60 years, biological anthropology was transformed from a discipline defined by a descriptive, typological approach to human variation to one that includes both experimental and comparative analyses of ancient and contemporary humans in a population based framework.
Biological anthropologists typically cross traditional discipline boundaries to conduct multi-dimensional research concerned with the human condition; we often work directly with specialists from the physical and natural sciences, including biology, anatomy, genetics, chemistry, and geology as well as from other related social sciences.
Biological anthropology at CSU focuses on human adaptation and evolution. Areas of expertise among the bioanthropology faculty include:
- modern human origins
- human adaptability
- human ecology
- skeletal biology and anatomy
- dental anthropology
Two broad themes exist within biological anthropology. The first emphasizes evolutionary theory and morphological transformations and the second is concerned with adaptations that are the product of the interaction between human biology and culture. Current faculty research addresses both of these themes.
Ongoing research in biological anthropology at CSU related to the first theme includes examinations of late Plio-Pleistocene hominin morphology, early Homo dietary ecology at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, the paleobiogeography of the Neandertals, as well as archaeological expeditions to reconstruct the chronological framework of late Pleistocene human groups in the Central Asian republics and their unique adaptations to those extreme landscapes.
Regarding the second theme, analyses of the health, growth, and adaptation of Maasai pastoralists of Tanzania and bioarchaeological studies focused on the diet, health, and adaptation of the ancient Maya as well as a late 19C skeletal population from a Colorado Insane Asylum represent current research trajectories.
Biological Anthropology Courses at CSU:
- Human Origins and Variation
- Human Origins and Variation Lab
- Human Ecology
- Human Osteology
- Human Evolution
- Human Biological Variation
- Evolution of Primate Behavior
- Evolution of Human Adaptation
- Human Adaptability
- Primate Ecology and Behavior
- Current Issues in Biological Anthropology
- Human Origins
- Anthropology and International Health
- Paleoclimate and Human Evolution
- The Neandertals
- Methods of Analysis in Paleoanthropology
The biological anthropology program emphasizes a broad anthropological perspective. At both the undergraduate and graduate level, students are expected to take courses in archaeology and cultural anthropology as well as biological anthropology. Students are also encouraged to pursue additional training outside the department in areas that complement their specific interests such as genetics, evolutionary biology, physiology, pathology, nutrition, anatomy, and statistics.