Biological Anthropology Curriculum @ Vassar College

ANTH 120 – Human Origins (Syllabus-Spring 2023)
ANTH 211 – Virtual Anthropology (“Intensive,” Syllabus-Fall 2022)
ANTH 223 – Primate Behavioral Ecology (Pandemic edition; Syllabus–Fall 2022)
ANTH 224 – Race and Human Variation (Pandemic edition; Syllabus–Fall 2022)
ANTH 322 – Human Evolutionary Developmental Biology (Syllabus-Spring 2023)

Retired anthropological offerings

ENST 177 – Prehistoric Perspective on Climate Change (Syllabus–Spring 2022)
ANTH 235 – Central Asian Prehistory (Syllabus-Fall 2017)
ANTH 305 – A New Human Species (Syllabus-Spring 2017)


Biological Anthropology Activities & Assignments

Lab activities create hands-on opportunities for students to learn about data collection, hypothesis testing, and other concepts. Below are links to posts describing labs I developed for various courses over the years, and which you can use in your own classes if you wish. Included also is the link to the materials from the R workshop from the 2016 American Association of Physical Anthropologists conference, which I co-organized with Dr. David Pappano.

Primate anatomy and adaptation – virtual lab (ANTH 223, 2022)

Testing socioecology theory predictions (ANTH 223, 2022)

Brain size and scaling – virtual lab (ANTH 120, 2021)

Estimating students’ brain sizes (2015)

Sexual size dimorphism (2015)

Estimating Miocene ape body mass (2015)

Do toe bones make Ardipithecus a biped? (2014)

Primate limb proportions (2015)

Determining fossil species (2015)

Estimating hominin brain size (2015)

Chimpanzee developmental osteology (2016)

Materials from the R workshop (AAPA 2016)


Other links:

Anth 235 student-written wiki: Central Asian Prehistoric Sites (2017)
Anthropology Department website
Materials for Resampling in R Workshop (Vassar URSI program, 12 June 2020)

12 thoughts on “Teaching

  1. Pingback: A new year of bioanthro lab activities | Lawn Chair Anthropology

  2. Pingback: Gracile & robust Australopithecus | Lawn Chair Anthropology

  3. Pingback: Bioanthro lab activity: Sexual dimorphism | Lawn Chair Anthropology

  4. Pingback: Bioanthro lab activity: Hominin brain size | Lawn Chair Anthropology

  5. Pingback: Updated bioanthro syllabi | Lawn Chair Anthropology

  6. Hi Dr. Cofran,

    If you don’t mind my asking, for your Bioanthro lab activity: Primate proportions, it looks as though you are having your students use the raw MeshLab measurement and then creating indices with that. Am I interpreting that correctly? Or are you converting the raw unit measurement into mm? Apologies if this was made apparent somewhere in the documents you have uploaded, I was just curious as I am crafting something that uses similar techniques that I hope to also convert into a classroom activity. Thanks so much for any information you can give!

    Jessica Skinner

    • Hi Jessica,
      I’ll need to review this exercise (it’s syllabus time!) but I think that the measurements are already in mm. I could be wrong. Either way, if you’re making indices they will become dimensionless so it shouldn’t matter (although students may get suspicious if a marmoset has a smaller humerus than a macaque). I hope this helps!

  7. Hi Zach,

    Thanks so much for your response! I feel you, it is definitely that time again. This was a big help as I am working with some skeletal material, and most of the measurements I am conducting are dimensionless, but I was playing around with MeshLab and testing some of its capabilities and had a brainwave for using it in Lab. Here’s to a successful semester for you!


  8. Pingback: #AAPA2017 – Modularity & evolution of the human canine | Lawn Chair Anthropology

  9. Pingback: New anthropology syllabi for 2017 | Lawn Chair Anthropology

  10. Dr. Cofran,
    I am a HS Biology teacher who tries to use hominid anthropology examples as data sets and to teach evolution as much as possible. I have been using 3D printed crania and mandibles for the past two years but have always wanted to dive deeper. A- May I use/modify your published labs in my classroom giving you full credit of course? B- I have had several people on twitter ask how they can dive deeper into hominids, do you mind if I publicize your page to other HS teachers on Twitter, so they can also see your labs? I would be tagging Science teachers….but you know how twitter goes. Thank you for all that you do and whatever you decide I more than understand. -Dan

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