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Faculty & Staff Directory

Charles Musiba, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Email: Charles Musiba
Office Location: Administration Building 270H
Phone: (303) 556-6082
Fax: (303) 556-8501
Office hours: Tuesdays, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Areas of Expertise:
Biological Anthropology (Paleoanthropology)


Education & Degrees

Ph.D., Anthropology,The University of Chicago, 1999
M.A., Anthropology, The University of Chicago, 1995
M.A., Human Ecology, Free University of Brussels (VUB), Belgium, 1991
B.A., Biological Anthropology, J.W. Goethe Universität Frankfurt, Germany, 1985


My research focuses on human origins in East Africa with research theme that covers four areas: paleoecology of Laetoli, animal trackways and their paleoecological potentials, and taphonomy. I am interested in research questions that link human evolution with climate change, especially the reconstruction of ancient landscapes using multiple sources of data (from fossil faunal remains to stable isotopes, pollen remains, and animal prints) at the 3.5 million years old Pliocene paleoanthropological Site of Laetoli in northern Tanzania.

The aim of my research work at Laetoli (which currently combines research and field-based teaching) is to explore the question of whether combined paleontological data can successfully be used to tease out ecological interpretations of past landscapes and their impact on human evolution at Laetoli. The scope and focus of my current research is: (1) to continue with field excavation and recovery of fossil faunal remains (including hominin (hominid) and other associated mammalian bones) from Localities 7, 8, and 10; (2) to conduct a systematic study that compares recently discovered Laetoli hominin specimen with well established Australopithecus afarensis specimens from Laetoli and other East African sites from Ethiopia and Kenya in order to establish firmly their taxonomic status; (3) to establish a better geologic (stratigraphic) framework that can be used as a benchmark on Laetoli depositional environments and hominin variability using multiple sources of data; (4) to systematically document the animal trackways and establish snapshots of Laetoli past fauna communities based on animal prints; and (5) to apply multiple analytical methods to identify past ecological changes at Laetoli in the past 3.5 million years ago

Select Publications

Musiba, C.M. Carol Laciny, and Cassian C. Magori. (2011) "Endocast of Saldanha skull: revised description, comparative status and behavioral possibilities." In R.P. Srivastava and G. Sarana (Eds.,) Anthropological Studies in Memory of Dr. D.K. Sen. Rawat Publications, Jaipur, New Delhi (May 2011).

Dominquez-Rodrigo, M and Musiba, C.M. (2010) "How accurate are paleoecological reconstructions of early paleontological and archaeological sites." Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 37: 128-140 (DOI 10.1007/s11692-010-9087-2).

Meldrum, D.J., Lockley, M.G., Lucas, S.G., and Musiba, C. (In review) "Ichnotaxonomy of the Laetoli trackways: The earliest hominin footprints." Journal of African Earth Sciences.

Musiba, C., Mabulla, A., Selvaggio, M., and Magori, C. (2008) "Pliocene Animal trackways at Laetoli: Research and Conservation Potential." Ichnos 15: 166-178.

Musiba, C.M., Williams, B., Magori, C.C., Wright, J., and Dechesne, M. (2008) "Conservation efforts of the Laetoli hominin footprints at Site G: What next?" In J.Y. Kim and K.S. Kim (Eds.,) Proceedings of the 2007 International Symposium on the Conservation and Application of Hominid Footprints. Jeju Island, Korea. Korean Journal of Earth Sciences.

Musiba, C.M., Magori, C.C., Stoller, M.K., Stein, T., Branting, S., Vogt, M., Tuttle, R.H., Hallgrímsson, B., Killindo, S., Mizambwa, F., Ndunguru, F., Mabulla, A., and Kamamba, D.M.K. (2007) "Taphonomy and paleoecological context of the Upper Laetolil Beds" (Localities 8 & 9), "Laetoli in northern Tanzania" (Chapter 10). In R. Bobe, Z. Alemseged, and A.K. Behrensmeyer (Eds.). "Hominid environments in the East African Pliocene: an assessment of the faunal evidence." Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology Series, Kluwer Academic Press.

Courses Taught

ANTH 1303: Introduction to Biological Anthropology
ANTH 3500: Human Osteology
ANTH 3512: Human Evolution
ANTH 4500/5500: Advanced Issues in Biological Anthropology
ANTH 4580/5580: Neanderthals and the Origin of Modern Humans
ANTH 4995/5995: Tanzania Field School in Anthropology
ANTH 6513: Biological Anthropology Core: The Fossil Record