School of Anthropology & Conservation

Excellence in diversity Global in reach

"Human skull" (Photo credit: Chris Deter)

Human Osteology Laboratory

Room 113, School of Anthropology and Consevation, University of Kent, Canterbury UK

The Human Osteology Research Lab, managed by Dr Patrick Mahoney, investigates questions related to growth and development, and diet in humans, non-human primates, our fossil ancestors and other mammals. Our lab specializes in tooth and bone histology, and stable isotope analysis, and is fully equipped for sectioning, high resolution microscopy, image analysis, and collagen extraction. The equipment was funded in part by a Royal Society research grant. The lab curates an extensive human skeletal pathological collection and related radiographs.


Current projects

Dental Histology

"Enamel mineralization before and after birth in a human infant" (Photo credit: Patrick Mahoney)

We focus on dental microstructure in ‘milk’ teeth to reconstruct the mechanism that produces tooth morphology. We have shown that human enamel growth slows through the trimesters. Current research assesses this finding in great apes to determine if ‘milk’ teeth hold a life history signature. Our research has led to new dental growth charts for estimating juvenile age-at-death and the timing of surface enamel defects.

Visit our research project, 'Enamel crown formation times for human deciduous maxillary molars'.


Bone Histology

"A microscopic view of a secondary osteon in bone from a human infant." Photo credit: Rosie Pitfield.

We pioneer bone histomorphometry in human juveniles. Recent research tests the extent to which bone and enamel growth rates are related, and questions the long-standing assumed relationship between muscle markings and bone remodeling activity.   

These are collaborative research  projects, with Professor Debbie Guatteli-Steinberg (The Ohio State University), Dr Justyna Miszkiewicz (Imperial College London), Stephen H. Schlecht (University of Michigan) and Dr Tracy Kivell.




Photo credit: Fahy et al. (2013)

The isotopic research stream currently investigates the relationship between status and stable isotope evidence of diet at the Medieval Basilica site of Tongeren (Belgium).  Aspects of diet and weaning in wild chimpanzees are also researched.

These are collaborative project with the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, and KU Leuven.   

As part of our research into ancient human diet we collaborate with Prof. Christopher Schmidt (University of Indianapolis) on 3D reconstructions of the microscopic tooth surface, which is funded by the British Academy – Leverhulme Trust.

Show all


Hide all

back to top


Selected Peer-Reviewed Articles


  • Mahoney P., Miszkiewicz J., Chapple S., Le Luyer, M., Schlecht S., Stewart T., Griffiths R., Deter C. and Guatelli-Steinberg, D., "The Biorhythm of Human Skeletal Growth", Journal of Anatomy, vol. 232. Wiley, pp. 26-38, 2018


  • Fahy G., Deter C., Pitfield R., Miszkiewicz J. and Mahoney P., "Bone deep: variation in stable isotope ratios and histomorphometric measurements of bone remodelling within adult humans", Journal of Archaeological Science, vol. 87. Elsevier, pp. 10-16, 2017
  • Mahoney P., Miszkiewicz J., Pitfield R., Deter,C. and Guatelli-Steinberg D., "Enamel biorhythms of humans and great apes: the Havers-Halberg Oscillation hypothesis reconsidered", Journal of Anatomy, vol. 230. Wiley, pp. 272-281, 2017
  • Pitfield R., Miszkiewicz J. and Mahoney P., "Cortical histomorphometry of the human humerus during ontogeny", Calcified Tissue International, vol. 101. Springer, pp. 148-158, 2017


  • Oetze VM, Fahy GE, Hohmann G, Robbins MM, Leinert V, Lee K, Eshuis H, Seiler N, Wessling EG, Head J, Boesch C, Kühl HS. Comparative Isotope Ecology of African Great Apes. Journal of Human Evolution [Online] 101:1-16.
  • Mahoney P., Miszkiewicz, J., Pitfield, R., Schlecht, S., Deter, C., and Guatelli-Steinberg, D., "Biorhythms, deciduous enamel thickness, and primary bone growth in modern human children: a test of the Havers-Halberg Oscillation hypothesis", Journal of Anatomy, vol. 228. Wiley, pp. 919-928, 2016
  • Parker Pearson M., Chamberlain, A., Jay, M., Richards, M., Sheridan, A., Curtis, N., Evans, J., Gibson, A., Mahoney, P., Marshall, P., Montgomery, J., and Needham, S., "Beaker people in Britain: migration, mobility and diet", Antiquity, vol. 90. Cambridge University Press, pp. 620 -637, 2016
  • Mahoney P, Schmidt CW, Deter C, Remy A, Slavin P, Johns SE, Miszkiewicz JJ, Nystrom P. (2016) Deciduous enamel 3D microwear texture analysis as an indicator of childhood diet in medieval Canterbury, England. Journal of Archaeological Science 66:126-136.
  • Miszkiewicz, J. and Mahoney, P. Ancient Human Bone Microstructure in Medieval England: Comparisons between Two Socio-Economic Groups. The Anatomical Record 299:42-59.


  • Mahoney P. (2015), Dental fast track: Prenatal enamel growth, incisor eruption, and weaning in human infants.  American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 156: 407–421


  • Fahy GE, Richards M, Deschner T, Fuller B, Hublin J.-J. and Boesch C. (2014), Stable nitrogen isotope analysis of dentine serial sections elucidates weaning patterns in wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 153: 635–642


  • Fahy GE, Richards M, Riedel J, Hublin J.J. and Boesch C. (2013), Meat-eating and hunting specialization in adult male chimpanzees, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 110; 15: 5829–5833
  • Mahoney P. (2013), Testing functional and morphological interpretations of enamel thickness along the deciduous tooth row in human children.  American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 151: 518-25.


  • Deter C. (2012), Correlation between molar occlusal and approximal tooth wear. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology. 22: 708-171.
  • Mahoney P. (2012), Incremental enamel development in modern human deciduous anterior teeth. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 147: 637-51.

Show all


Hide all

back to top

Recent Selected Conference Presentations


Fahy, G.E., Fuller, B.T., Richards, M.P., De Cupere, B., Marinova, E. and van Neer, W., Changing times: stable isotope evidence of dietary variability spanning 1600 years of occupation at Sagalassos, SW Turkey, The United Kingdom Archaeological Sciences (UKAS) conference (2015), University of Durham, Durham, United Kingdom

Miszkiewicz JJ, Kivell TL, Schlecht SH, Mahoney P. 2015. Investigating the extent to which entheseal morphology reflects remodeling at human femoral midshaft.  American Association of Physical Anthropologists, St Louis, USA.  April 2015.

Mahoney P, Christopher W. Schmidt, Chris Deter,  Ashley Remy, Philip Slavin, Sarah Johns, Justyna J. Miszkiewicz, Pia Nystrom.  2015.  Social Weaning: childhood diet and stress in medieval Canterbury, England.  American Association of Physical Anthropologists, St Louis, USA.  April 2015.


Fahy, G.E., Fuller, B.T., Richards, M.P. and van Neer, W., Fishing around: exploring diversity in modern and archaeological fish from the Turkish Lake District using stable isotope analysis, Conference: Radiocarbon & Diet, (2014), Christian-Albrechts-Universitätzu Kiel, Kiel, Germany

Mahoney P. 2014.The trajectory of human prenatal enamel growth slows through the trimesters.  American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Calgary, Alberta Canada



Deter, C. Mahoney, P.  (2013) Human dietary reconstruction from stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis in Anglo-Saxon England American Journal of Physical Anthropology Supplement, Knoxville, USA

Fahy, G.E., Richards, M., Hublin, J.-J. and Boesch, C., Weaning in chimpanzees: stable nitrogen isotope analysis to determine the duration of breast milk consumption and the introduction of solid foods in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), Society for American Archaeology Conference (2013), Honolulu, HI, USA

Show all


Hide all

back to top
back to top


This 65 square metre climate controlled dedicated research laboratory was specifically set up for the storage and analysis of human remains. Larger versions of the images may be accessed by clicking on the thumbnails below.






back to top

School of Anthropology and Conservation - © University of Kent

School of Anthropology and Conservation, Marlowe Building, The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NR, T: +44 (0)1227 827056

Last Updated: 13/03/2018