Osteology & Paleoanthropology

The Museum stewards human remains, nonhuman primate remains, fossils, and casts from around the world, as well as an extensive cast collection used across many disciplines for research and teaching. More than 90 percent of the human remains are from archaeological contexts, largely from expeditions supported by the Museum during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Since 1990, the Museum has actively engaged in implementing the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) which requires the identification and return of Native American human remains and certain cultural items in museum collections.

Interested in learning more about the collections?

Check out some highlights below, or search for specific collections in the database

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Highlights from the Osteology and Paleoanthropology Collections

Cast of Taung child fossil, discovered in 1924 and attributed to Australopithecus africanus. 32-93-50/N576.0

Extensive research cast collection of hominin and Miocene ape fossils, including casts of considerable antiquity that illustrate a variety of molding and casting techniques

Cast of Taung child fossil, discovered in 1924 and attributed to Australopithecus africanus. 32-93-50/N576.0

Male and female Liberian chimpanzee crania. 48-36-50/N6948.0 and 48-36-50/N6955.0

Nonhuman primates, including a large collection of chimpanzee skulls from northern Liberia, obtained by George Harley in the early 1940s and used intensively for research on chimpanzee biology and human evolution

Male and female Liberian chimpanzee crania. 48-36-50/N6948.0 and 48-36-50/N6955.0

MicroCT scan of Skhul V cranium, 46-49-60/N7365.0

Early Homo sapiens and Neanderthal skeletal and archaeological materials from the caves of Mount Carmel in Israel, including Skhul V, considered among the most significant fossils for the study of human evolution. CT scans of Skhul V are available for download on morphosource.org

MicroCT scan of Skhul V cranium, 46-49-60/N7365.0

All images © President and Fellows of Harvard College, Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology unless otherwise noted