Our focus on human evolution and cultural diversity manifests both as active research—including the ongoing study of hominin fossil remains in Africa—and a permanent collection of nearly 16,000 objects.

The Department of Anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences was established in 1900, and was focused—in keeping with the tenet of the early Academy—on Native California. Today, the research collection encompasses ethnographic and archaeological materials from around the globe, documenting the diversity of human cultures and the ways in which our species has adapted to Earth's varying environments.

The department is led by Senior Curator Dr. Zeresenay Alemseged, whose 2000 discovery of "Selam"—the skeletal remains of a 3.3 million-year-old Australopithecus afarensis child—continues to significantly advance our understanding of human evolution.

Collection survivors fromthe 1906 earthquake.


Our collections span the globe, with current strengths highlighting California basketry, the U.S. Southwest, and the Pacific Islands.

Selam's skull


Learn more about our areas of focus—active, ongoing research that seeks to answer some of the biggest questions in the field. 

Dikika research site


See where our research takes us, what partners we're working with, what impacts we've had on local communities, and what discoveries we've made thus far. 

Anthropology staff


Members of the Anthropology department encompass a wide range of academic focuses and expertise. Meet our curator, collections manager, and more. 

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Anthropology RR: Publications

Anthropology Publications

Our department publishes articles in scientific journals and contributes chapters to books on human evolution, as well as producing the latest two volumes of the Koobi Fora Research Project.