Biological Anthropology Research

Collections Departments
Osteology Collections


Biological Anthropology at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology emphasizes Human Osteology and Forensic Anthropology. The large holdings of archaeological and forensic materials is being continually augmented by an active body donation program and collectively comprise one of the pre-eminent comparative collections of human osteological material.

The Museum's Laboratory of Human Osteology is the location for a variety of projects on human skeletal pathology, group morphology, the study of modern human populations and the practice of forensic science. These programs actively involve researchers from around the world and numerous university undergraduate and graduate students.

The forensic anthropology program operates in partnership with the New Mexico State Office of the Medical Investigator, located in the UNM School of Medicine, with this collaboration representing a rich research resource.

Recent and ongoing projects include studies on the biomechanics of modern humans, microevolution of modern human populations, and projects relating to facilitating the identification of unknown individuals.

Highlights of individual research projects currently underway:
Heather J. Edgar, Curator of Human Osteology, Research Assistant Professor
Heather is in the process of gathering dental morphological data on contemporary samples from several populations from around the country.  She will use those data to develop a new tool for the estimation of the ancestry of unknown individuals, a tool that is needed in forensic situations.  She is collaborating with Steve Ousley of Mercyhurst College, and the research is being supported by the University of Tennessee Forensic Anthropology Center.  So far she has data from samples of European Americans from Cleveland, Ohio; African Americans from Memphis, Tennessee; and Hispanic Americans from here in Albuquerque.  This month she will be adding samples of Cuban Americans in Florida, New Mexico Native Americans, and hopefully several other groups, including Asian Americans in California and Puerto Ricans and Dominicans in New York.

Inquiries regarding research opportunities should be directed to:
Dr. Heather Edgar
Maxwell Museum of Anthropology
MSC01 1050
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001