Osteological and Paleoanthropological Collections

The osteological and paleoanthropological collections derive from more than eighty countries on six continents and include human and nonhuman primate remains, fossils, and casts. The Museum also has anatomical teaching and hominid cast collections. More than 90 percent of the human remains are from archaeological contexts, with a majority from large archaeological expeditions supported by the Museum during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The remainder were offered to or acquired by the Peabody from other universities and institutions as well as from individuals.

Prior to the passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) in 1990, there were remains from close to 10,000 individuals from the United States. Please see the Museum’s NAGPRA page here for information on the Museum’s implementation of NAGPRA.

There are close to 9,700 individuals from outside the United States in the collections of which more than 90% are from archaeological contexts where most individuals are likely to be more than 500 years old. The map below illustrates the geographical distribution of the collection.

  World map of osteological collections

 Greater than 500 records      100-500 records     50-100 records        Less than 50 records



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

Guide to the Osteology Collections 

Researcher Access to the Collections