Over the past half century biological anthropology has undergone tremendous change from a discipline that was defined by a descriptive, typological approach to human morphology to one that includes both experimental and comparative analyses in a population based framework.
Biological anthropologists continue to cross traditional disciplinary boundaries and interact with both the physical and natural sciences, including biology, anatomy, genetics, chemistry, biometry, or endocrinology as well as the social sciences.
The expertise of existing faculty in Biological Anthropology at CSU includes:
Human skeletal biology
Neanderthal paleobiology and paleobiogeography
Early hominid feeding ecology
Special resources include the Zooarchaeology and Paleoanthropology Lab, the Human Origins Lab and the Bioanthropology Lab. The biological anthropology program sponsors an annual paleontology field school each summer. Existing faculty also have geographic foci significant to their research. Research areas include Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tanzania, and Mexico.
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.
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.