The Biological Anthropology Collection originated in UCL Department of Anatomy in the early 20th Century, and was taken over by UCL Department of Anthropology in 1948. Up until 1983, it was composed of 338 specimens, mostly fossil hominin casts. In 1983 we received the (John) Napier Primate Collection, consisting of around 1000 specimens including primate skeletal remains, casts of fossil primates, and 109 reels of film which are now in UCL's Ethnographic Collection. Since then, the collection has expanded through small donations from researchers, larger ones from research institutions, including the most recent acquisition of over 100 mammalian skeletal specimens, acquisitions of teaching casts, and 3D printing of digitised fossil and primate material. We now have over 2500 specimens, which include: hominin fossil casts, anthropological and medical human specimens, hand and foot casts, lithics, primate skeletal material, and fossil primate casts.
The collection is primarily a teaching collection, being used on modules such as Palaeoanthropology, Primate Evolution, and Introduction to Biological Anthropology. It is also open to researchers and students from within UCL as well as from other institutions. Our material is regularly loaned out for exhibitions, teaching, outreach, and filming. Our collection room is also occasionally used for the filming of documentaries relating to human evolution and biological anthropology.
Previous curators include Leslie Aiello, Isabelle de Groote, Christophe Soligo, and Suzy White. Please contact the current curator, Nicole Barber, if you are interested in visiting the Biological Anthropology Collection or borrowing some of our specimens for research, teaching, or outreach.
We also take on volunteers with an interest in anatomy, evolution, and curating, so please get in touch if you would like to be involved with ongoing collection management.