Charles Musiba

Paleoanthropological Research at Laetoli
Ph.D., Professor, Carnegie African Diaspora and Montgomery Fellow, Board Member of US ICOMS
Department of Anthropology

Mailing Address:
Department of Anthropology
Campus Box 103
PO Box 173364 
Denver, CO 80217-3364

Office Hours:

My research focuses on human origins in Tanzania and South Africa with research theme covering the following areas: taphonomy and paleoecology of Laetoli, hominin behavior ecology at Olduvai Gorge, conservation of animal trackways at Laetoli, and the evolution of the genus Homo in Eastern and Southern Africa. 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 Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli paleoanthropological sites 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 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 3.6 million years ago

1999 Ph.D. in Anthropology (physical anthropology), The University of Chicago

1995 M.A. in Anthropology (physical anthropology), The University of Chicago

1991 M.A. in Human Ecology, Free University of Brussels (VUB), Belgium

1985 B.A. (Equiv.,) in Biological Anthropology, J.W. Goethe Universität Frankfurt, Germany


Christopher B. Ruff, Roshna E. Wunderlich, Kevin G. Hatala, Russell H. Tuttle, Charles E. Hilton, David M. Webb, Benedikt Hallgrimsson, Charles Musiba, Michael Baksh. Body mass estimation from footprint size in hominins. Journal of Human Evolution, vol. 156, July 2021, 10299.

Ellison J. Mcnutt1, Kevin G. Hatala, Catherine Miller, James Adams, Jesse Casana, Andrew S. Deane, Nathaniel J. Dominy, Kallisti Fabian, Luke D. Fannin, Stephen Gaughan, Simone V. Gill, Josephat Gurtu, Ellie Gustafson, Austin C. Hill, Camille Johnson, Said Kallindo, Benjamin Kilham, Phoebe Kilham, Elizabeth Kim, Cynthia Liutkus-Pierce, Blaine Maley, Anjali Prabhat, John Reader, Shirley Rubin, Nathan E. Thompson, Rebeca Thornburg, Erin Marie Williams-Hatala, Brian Zimmer, Charles M. Musiba, and Jeremy M. Desilva. Footprint evidence of early hominin locomotor diversity At Laetoli Tanzania. Nature (2021).


Bergstrom, K., Lawrence, A. B., Pelissero, A. J., Hammond, L. J., Maro, E., Bunn, H. T., & Musiba, C. M. High-resolution UAV map reveals erosional patterns and changing topography at Isimila, Tanzania. South African Journal of Science, Vol. 115 (7/8): 1-6.


Musiba, C., Kang, D. Towards a community-based conservation and sustainable use of Tanzania’s Heritage. Word Heritage for Sustainable Development in Africa, UNESCO Publication. Pages 225-231.


Timothy L. Campbell, Zachary W. Pierce, Kathleen N. Dolman, Marion Bamford, Cassian Magori and Charles Musiba.  Syntopy and co-utilization of a “roosting area” by the barn owl (Tyto alba) and spotted eagle owl (Bubo africanus) in Tanzania.  African Journal of Ecology.

Laird, M. F., L. Schroeder, H. M. Garvin, J. E. Scott, M. Dembo, D. Radovcic, C. M. Musiba, R. R. Ackermann, P. Schmid, J. Hawks, L. R. Berger, and D. J. de Ruiter. The skull of Homo naledi. Journal of Human Evolution 104:100-123.

Wei, P., Wallace, I.J., Jashashvili, T., Musiba, C.M., and Liu, Wu. Structural analysis of the femoral diaphysis of an early modern human from Tianyun Cave, China. Quaternary International, volume 434, Part A, 1 April 2017, Pages 48-56. Http://


Dembo, M., Radovčic, D., Garvin, H.M., Laird, M.F., Schroeder, L., Scott, J.E., Brophy, J., Delezene, L.K., Ackermann, R.R., Musiba, C.M., De Ruiter, D.J., Mooers, A.O., and Collard, M. The evolutionary relationships and age of Homo naledi: an assessment using dated Bayesian phylogenetic methodsJournal of Human EvolutionJournal of Human Evolution, Vol. 97: 17-26


Paul HGM Dirks, P.H.G.M., Berger, L.R., Roberts, E.M., Kramers, J.D., Hawks, J., Randolph-Quinney, P.S., Elliott, M., Musiba, C.M., Churchill, S.E., de Ruiter, D.J., Schmid, P., Backwell, L.R., Belyanin, G.A., Boshoff, P., Hunter, K.L., Feuerriegel, E.M., Gurtov, A., Harrison, J.G., Hunter, R., Kruger, A., Morris, H., Makhubela, T.V., Peixotto, B. and Tucker, S. Geological and taphonomic context for the new hominin species Homo naledi from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa. eLife 2015;4: e09561.


Berger, L.R., Hawk, J., de Ruiter, D.J.,  Churchill1, S.E., Schmid, P, Delezene, L.K., Kivell1,T.L., Garvin, H.M., Williams, S.A., DeSilva, J.M., Skinner, M.M., Musiba, C.M., Cameron, N., Holliday, T.W., Harcourt-Smith1, W., Ackermann, R.R., Bastir1, M., Bogin, B., Bolter, D., Brophy, J., Cofran, Z.D., Congdon, K.A., Deane, A.S., Dembo, M., Drapeau, M., Elliott, M.C., Feuerriegel, E.M., Garcia-Martinez, D., Green, D.J., Gurtov, A., Irish, J.D., Kruger, A., Laird, M.F., Marchi1,D., Meyer, M.R., Nalla, S., Negash, E.W., Orr, C.M., Radovcic, D., Schroeder, L., Scott1, J.E., Throckmorton, Z., Tocheri, M.W., VanSickle, C., Walker, C.S., Wei, P., and Zipfel, B. Homo naledi, a new species of the genus Homo from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa. eLife 2015;4: e09560.


Musiba, C. Comments on M. Dominguez-Rodrigo (2014). Is the "Savanna Hypothesis" a dead Concept for Explaining the Emergence of the Earliest Hominins? Current Anthropology, vol. 55(1): 59-81.

Musiba, C. The administration of Cultural World Heritage Sites and Their Contribution to the Economic Empowerment of Local Communities in Africa. In S. Makuvaza (Ed.), The Management of Cultural World Heritage Sites and Development in Africa.SpringerBriefs in Archaeology / SpringerBriefs in Archaeological Heritage Management, 103p.

Dominguez-Rodrigo, M., Diez-Martín, F., Mabulla, A., Baquedano, E., Bunn, H., and Musiba, C. The evolution of hominin behavior during the Oldowan-Acheulian transition: Recent evidence from Olduvai Gorge and Peninj (Tanzania)Quaternary International (2014),


Dominguez-Rodrigo, M., Pickering, T.R., Baquedano, E., Mabulla, A., Mark, D.F., Musiba, C., Bunn, H.T., Uribelarrea, D., Smith, V., Diez-Martin, F., Pérez-González, A., Sánchez, P., Santoja, M., Barboni, D., Gidna, G., Ashley, G., Yravedra, J., Heaton, J.L., and Arriaza, M.C. First Partial Skeleton of a 1.34-Million-Year-Old Paranthropus boisei from Bed II, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. PLOS ONE, Volume 8 (12) e80347: 1-10.

Pickering, T.R., Domínguez-Rodrigo, M., Heaton, J.L., Yravedra, J., Barba, R., Bunn, H.T., Musiba, C., Baquedano, E., Diez-Martin, F., Mabulla, A., and Brain, C.K. 2013. Taphonomy of ungulate ribs and the consumption of meat and bone by 1.2-million-year-old hominins at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Journal of Archaeological Science, vol. 40(2):1295-1309.

Gidna, A.O., Kisui, B., Mabulla, A., Musiba, C., and Dominguez-Rodrigo, M. An ecological neo-taphonomic study of carcass consumption by lions in Tarangire National Park (Tanzania) and its relevance for human evolutionary biologyQuaternary International (2013),


Musiba. C. 2012. Negotiating Conservation and Sustainable Use of Tanzania’s Paleoanthropological Heritage: The Laetoli Hominin Footprints Site in Ngorongoro, Northern Tanzania. In Alicia Castillo (Eds.): Proceedings of the First International Conference on Best Practices in World Heritage: Archaeology, pages 413-435. Editora, Complutense, Spain.

Musiba, C., Mabulla, A., Mutakyahwa, M., Masao, F., Runyoro, V., Kim, J.Y., Dominguez-Rodrigo, M., Mbwana, N., Ndunguru, F., Odunga, S., Washa, J., Paresso, J., and Stepanek. V. 2012. Tanzania and the Outstanding Universal Value of its paleoanthropology: approaches at Laetoli and lessons learned. In Nuria Sanz (Eds.): Human Origin Sites and the World Heritage Convention in Africa. World Heritage Papers Series, Vol. 33: 115-125.

Baquedano, E., Dominguez-Rodrigo, M., and Musiba, C. An experimental study of large mammal bone modification by crocodiles and its bearing on the interpretation of crocodile predation at FLK Zinj and FLK NN3. Journal of Archaeological Science, vol. 39: 1728-1737.

Dominguez-Rodrigo, M., Bunn, H.T., Pickering, T.R., Mabulla, A.Z.P., Musiba, C.M., Baquedano, E., Ashley, G.M., Diez-Martin, F., Uribelarrea, D., Barba, R., Yravedra, J., Barboni, D., Arriaza, C., and Gidna, A. Autochthony and orientation patterns in Olduvai Bed I: a re-examination of the status of post-depositional biasing of archaeological assemblages from FLK North (FLKN). Journal of Archaeological Science, vol. 39(7): 2116-2127.

Dominguez-Rodrigo, M., Pickering, T.R., Diez-Martin, F., Mabulla, A., Musiba, C., Trancho, G., Baquedano, E., Bunn, H.T., Barboni, DE., Santoja, M., Uribelarrea, D., Ashley, G., del Sol Martinez-Avilla, M., Barba, B., Gidna, A., Yravedra, J., and Arriaza, C. Earliest Hyperostosis on 1.5-Million-Year-Old Hominin from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. PLoS ONE 7(10): e46414 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046414.

Dominguez-Rodrigo, M., Gidna, A.O., Yravedra, J., and Musiba, C. A comparative Neo-Taphonomic Study of Felids, Hyaenids, and Canids: an Analogical Framework Based on Long Bone Modification Patterns. Journal of Taphonomy, volume 10(3-4): 151-170.


Meldrum, D.J., Lockley, M.G., Lucas, S.G., and Musiba, C. Ichnotaxonomy of the Laetoli trackways: The earliest hominin footprints. Journal of African Earth Sciences, 60:1-12.

Musiba, C.M., Laciny, C., and Magori, C.C.  Endocast of Saldanha skull: revised description, comparative status and behavioral possibilities.  In G. Sarana and R.P. SArivastava (Eds.,) Studies in Socioal and Physical Anthropology. . Rawat Publications, Jaipur, New Delhi.


Dominquez-Rodrigo, M and Musiba, C.M. How accurate are paleoecological reconstructions of early paleontological and archaeological sites.  Evolutionary Biology, 37:128-140 (DOI10.1007/s11692-010-9087-2).

ANTH 1000: Anthropology - Past and Present

ANTH 1303: Introduction to Biological Anthropology

ANTH 3500: Human Osteology

ANTH 3512: Human Evolution

ANTH 4500/5500: Advanced Issues in Biological Anthropology

ANTH 4500/5500: Taphonomy and Zooarchaeology Seminar

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