Anthropology is a broad subject. The areas covered in the Palaeontology Department come within the field of biological anthropology also known as physical anthropology.

Our research ranges from the study and dating of early fossil humans such as the Neanderthals through to work on the growth and development of modern people.

Fieldwork and collaboration


We carry out fieldwork in the UK, Europe and in countries like Morocco, often in collaboration with archaeologists.

Large-scale collaborations

The department is currently involved in several large-scale collaborative anthropology projects:

  • Image field of a human tooth crown captured using the Alicona 3D InfiniteFocus imaging microscope
    Tooth enamel as an archive of early life experiences

    The age of onset and duration of enamel formation varies between teeth so different teeth preserve a record of different stages of life. Learn more about unlocking this archive of early lifetime experiences. 

  • A dig at Grotte des Pigeons, at Taforalt, Morocco.
    Cemeteries and sedentism in the Epipalaeolithic of North Africa

    Researchers are charting the changes in patterns of subsistence and  occupation during the Iberomaurusian period, approximately 13,000 years ago, at  the Grotte des Pigeons site in Morocco.

  • Sampling volcanic ash horizons in the Kozarnika Cave, Bulgaria
    Response of humans to abrupt environmental transitions

    How did our ancestors respond to rapid environmental changes in the recent past? The RESET project will help provide answers by using microscopic dust dispersed by volcanic eruptions to correlate geological, environmental and archaeological events over the last 100,000 years. Find out more.

  • Cutmarks on cannibalised human skull.
    Cutmarks and carcass decay

    Museum researchers are investigating whether cutmarks on bones and teeth can be used to determine the stage of carcass decay in ancient remains.

  • Excavations at the early Middle Pleistocene site of Norton Subcourse, Norfolk
    Ancient human occupation of Britain

    When did early humans colonise Europe and what frontiers did they reach? What factors affected their dispersal? And what strategies did they use to survive? The AHOB project tackles these questions and more, investigating ancient humans and their adaptations during the European Palaeolithic and Mesolithic. Learn more.

  • Museum palaeontologists search for evidence of Neanderthal habitation
    Staff engaged in anthropology research

    Discover who at the Museum is involved in research relating to ancient and modern humans.

  • Geographical distribution of populations.
    Human adaptation to diet and infectious disease

    Studying modern and ancient human DNA to determine the impact of technological, demographic and social changes on disease burdens during the last 10,000 years.


We use a variety of research techniques, including:

  • conventional measurement and description
  • microscopy
  • computed tomography (CT)
  • chemical studies of teeth and bones
  • Alicona InfiniteFocus microscope (AIFM) for 3D data analysis