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 17,000 objects.

The Department of Anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences was established in 1900, and, in keeping with the tenet of the early Academy, focused 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 also undertakes field research, such as that of Research Associate Dr. Zeresenay Alemseged into human evolution. Dr. Alemseged's 2000 discovery "Selam"—the skeletal remains of a 3.3 million-year-old Australopithecus afarensis child—continues to significantly advance our understanding of the evolution of our species.

Collection survivors fromthe 1906 earthquake.


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

Hominin Cast Collection

Cast Collection

The Department of Anthropology houses a collection of hominin fossil and comparative casts that are available for reference by visiting researchers and students.

Selam cranium


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 and learn about some of the exciting discoveries we've made thus far.

Anthropology staff


Members of the Department of Anthropology cover a range of academic foci and expertise.

Anthropology FAQs

How to access our collections, donate objects, apply for an internship, and more.

Anthropology History

Learn more about our department and its history at the Academy.

Anthropology Publications

Our department publishes articles in scientific journals, contributes chapters to books, and produces select collection catalogs.