Curtis W. Marean
Professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change
PhD, University of California, 1990 Email: email@example.com Directory Profile Watch a video interview with Marean at Live Science.com's "Science Lives" series (posted October 2011): http://www.livescience.com/16431-human-origins-marean-nsf-sl.html
Professor Marean received his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in 1990 and is now a member of the Institute of Human Origins and School of Human Evolution & Social Change at Arizona State University. His research interests focus on the origins of modern humans, the prehistory of Africa, the study of animal bones from archaeological sites, and climates and environments of the past. In the area of the origins of modern humans, he is particularly interested in questions about foraging strategies, for example, when humans became effective hunters of large antelope, and the timing and processes underlying the evolution of modern human behavior. Professor Marean has a special interest in human occupation of grassland and coastal ecosystems and the role people play in the form of these ecosystems.
Professor Marean's primary methodological approach to investigating these questions is zooarchaeology, the study of animal bones, and taphonomy, the study of how bones become fossils. In particular, Professor Marean focuses on experimental taphonomy and the replication of bone destruction processes with the goal of refining zooarchaeological methods. His work in this area has had a profound impact on zooarchaeological methodology and our understandings of Neanderthals and early modern human hunting behavior. He, along with his student Yoshiko Abe, have developed a novel image-analysis zooarchaeological recording system that utilizes GIS software. This approach is a substantial improvement in zooarchaeological methodology.
He is currently directing archaeological excavations, with Peter Nilssen, at Mossel Bay in South Africa. The sites are mostly large caves in the steep coastal cliffs above the Indian Ocean. These excavations are targeted at refining our understanding of the origins of modern human behavior and placing that event in its environmental context. To that end, he is a leading a team that is seeking to develop a continuous sequence of environmental change from 400,000 to 30,000 years ago. This will have implications for our understanding of modern human origins but also will inform us on the response of terrestrial ecosystems to potential long-term climate change and thus be directly relevant to the future of humanity in the light of future climatic shifts.