Tyler Faith, Ph.D.

Dr. Tyler Faith

Chief Curator & Curator of Anthropology

Tyler Faith is a paleoecologist who studies relationships between fossil mammals, environmental change, and human-environment interactions, with a focus on the time and place relevant to understanding the causes and consequences of human evolution: Africa over the past 7,000,000 years. Faith’s research overlaps with anthropology, paleobiology, and the geosciences, and he has produced impactful work across these core disciplines and more broadly. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles in top scientific journals, including Science, Nature, and PNAS

Faith’s research broadly addresses two key themes: 

Human impacts on the natural world: Many of the defining features of the Anthropocene are rooted in a long history of human impacts on the natural world. Resolving the antiquity, consequences, and present-day implications of this history is a matter of intense debate across the paleo-sciences. Faith contributes to this work by focusing the spotlight on mammal extinctions in Africa. Dating back to his days as a graduate student (2005-2011), Faith has developed a research agenda that integrates fieldwork and lab work to document and describe extinct species, understand their ecology, and place their losses within a broader evolutionary, ecological, and archaeological context. 

Environmental change and human evolution: Researchers have longed proposed that paleoenvironmental change played a central role in shaping human evolutionary history. A major challenge in this field has been the lack of good paleoenvironmental records from the times and places that document our evolutionary history. Faith has been tackling this problem through the study of fossil mammals from archaeological and paleontological sites, both in the geologically recent and deeper past.  The centerpiece of these efforts is his 2019 book Paleozoology and Paleoenvironments: Fundamentals, Assumptions, Techniques, which outlines the theoretical background and methods that can be employed to reconstruct past environments using fossil animal remains. 

Faith received a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Washington (2005) and a Ph.D. in Hominid Paleobiology from the George Washington University (2011). From there, he joined the University of Queensland as a postdoctoral research fellow (2012-2014) and faculty member (2015-2017). In 2017, he joined the NHMU and the Department of Anthropology at University of Utah, as part of the Museum’s Sustaining Biodiversity initiative. He is currently Chief Curator at NHMU and Associate Professor of Anthropology.  

Areas of Expertise 

• Paleoecology 

• Paleoanthropology 

• Human-environment interaction 

• Late Cenozoic Mammals 

• The Quaternary period 

• Africa