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Biography: Stephen L. Cumbaa

Stephen Cumbaa © Stephen Cumbaa


Steve Cumbaa

Research Scientist, Earth Sciences
Research Services
Tel.: 613.364.4049
Fax: 613.364.4027
Email: scumbaa@mus-nature.ca


Ph.D., Anthropology (double minor: Geology, Zoology), University of Florida, 1975.


  • Fossil fishes.
  • Cretaceous marine faunas of North America.
  • Marine paleoenvironments.
  • Zooarchaeology – human exploitation of vertebrates.


  • Marine faunas and paleoenvironments of the eastern margin of the Middle to Late Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway (primary fieldwork in east central Saskatchewan and western Manitoba).
  • Early Devonian (Emsian) faunas and paleoenvironments (primary fieldwork in NWT; also, Yukon, New Brunswick and Quebec).
  • Pliocene and Pleistocene fishes of Canada [Yukon Territory; Nunavut; Champlain Sea (Ontario and Quebec)].

Professional Services

  • Member, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology; member, Peer Review Board, Journal of Paleontological Sciences; member, Canadian Science Writers’ Association
  • Adjunct Research Professor, Earth Sciences, Carleton University (sessional lecturer, Undergraduate Concentration in Vertebrate Paleontology program)
  • Identification services for vertebrate fossils, bones and teeth are provided free of charge to the public as well as to archaeologists, wildlife biologists, and other professionals. The identification of large samples is on a fee for services basis.


  • Aaron Phillips, Carleton University, MSc.
    Thesis Title: Taphonomy, diagenesis, and faunal content of Late Cretaceous (Cenomanian) bonebeds, eastern margin, Western Interior Seaway
  • Joseph Sanchez, Carleton University, MSc.
    Thesis Title: Hesperornithiform birds from Cenomanian age marine bonebeds in east central Saskatchewan
  • Joanna Northover, Carleton University, Earth Sciences; Honours BSc.
    Thesis Title: A new large osteichthyan fish from Campanian marine deposits, Devon Island, NU


Carleton University, Department of Earth Sciences


  • Chin, K., Bloch, J., Sweet, A., Tweet, J., Eberle, J., Cumbaa, S., Witkowski, J. and Harwood, D. (2008). Life in a Temperate Polar Sea: a Unique Taphonomic Window on the Structure of a Late Cretaceous Arctic Marine Ecosystem. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 275: 2675-2685.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. and Murray, A.M. (2008). New Late Cretaceous Pachyrhizodontid (Crossognathiformes) and Enchodontoid (Aulopiformes) Fishes and Associated Ichthyofauna from the Northwest Territories, Canada. pp. 229-256 In Arratia, G., Schultze, H.-P., and Wilson, M.V.H. (eds.), Mesozoic Fishes 4 – Homology and Phylogeny. Proceedings of the international meeting, Miraflores de la Sierra, 2005. Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil, Munich.
  • Hay, M.J., Cumbaa, S.L., Murray, A.M. and Plint, A.G. (2007). A New Paraclupeid Fish (Clupeomorpha, Ellimmichthyiformes) from a Muddy Prodelta Marine Environment: Middle Cenomanian Dunvegan Formation, Alberta, Canada. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 44: 775-790.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. (2007). Reflections in the Harbour: Inferences on Basque Whaling and Whale Processing. In Archaeology of the Whaling Harbour. Vol. 5, The Basque Whaling Station at Red Bay, Labrador. Parks Canada, Ottawa.
  • Stevens, W. and Cumbaa, S.L. (2007). Marine Archaeology and Zooarchaeology of the 16th Century Whaling Harbour, Red Bay, Labrador. In Archaeology of the Whaling Harbour. Vol. 5, The Basque Whaling Station at Red Bay, Labrador. Parks Canada, Ottawa.
  • Cumbaa, S.L., Schröder-Adams, C., Day, R.G. and Phillips, A.J. (2006). Cenomanian Bonebed Faunas from the Northeastern Margin, Western Interior Seaway, Canada. In Lucas, S.G. and Sullivan, R.M. (eds.), Late Cretaceous Vertebrates from the Western Interior. New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science Bulletin 35: 139-155.
  • Shimada, K., Cumbaa, S.L. and Van Rooyen, D. (2006). Caudal Fin Skeleton of the Late Cretaceous Lamniform Shark, Cretoxyrhina mantelli, from the Niobrara Chalk of Kansas. In Lucas, S.G. and Sullivan, R.M. (eds.), Late Cretaceous Vertebrates from the Western Interior. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin 35: 185-192.
  • Rastogi, T., Brown, M.W., McLeod, B.A., Frasier, T.R., Grenier, R., Cumbaa, S.L., Nadarajah, J. and White, B.N. (2004). Genetic Analysis of 16th-Century Whale Bones Prompts a Revision of the Impact of Basque Whaling on Right and Bowhead Whales in the Western North Atlantic. Canadian Journal of Zoology 82: 1647-1654.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. and Schultze, H.-P. (2002). An Early Devonian (Emsian) Acanthodian from the Bear Rock Formation, Anderson River, Northwest Territories, Canada. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 39(10): 1457-1465.
  • Wu, X.-C., Russell, A.P. and Cumbaa, S.L. (2001). Terminonaris (Archosauria: Crocodyliformes); New Material from Saskatchewan, Canada, and Comments on its Phylogenetic Relationships. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 21(3): 492-514.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. and Bryant, H.N. (2001). Stratigraphic Position of a Late Cretaceous (Cenomanian) Bonebed, East-Central Saskatchewan. In Summary of Investigations 2001, Vol. 1, Saskatchewan Geological Survey, Sask. Energy Mines, Misc. Rep. 2001-4.1: 121-124.
  • Schröder-Adams, C.J., Cumbaa, S.L., Bloch, J., Leckie, D.A., Craig, J. Seif El-Dein, S.A., Simons, D.-J.H.A.E. and Kenig, F. (2001). Late Cretaceous (Cenomanian to Campanian) Paleoenvironmental History of the Eastern Canadian Margin of the Western Interior Seaway: Bonebeds and Anoxic Events. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 170: 261-289.
  • Occhietti, S., Chartier, M., Hillaire-Marcel, C., Cournoyer, M., Cumbaa, S.L., Harington, C.R. and Richard, P.J.H. (2001). Paléoenvironnements de la Mer de Champlain dans la Région de Québec, entre 11 300 et 9750 BP: le Site de Saint-Nicolas. Géographie physique et Quaternaire 55(1): 23-46.
  • Schultze, H.-P. and Cumbaa, S.L. (2001). Dialipina and the Characters of Basal Actinopterygians. pp. 315-332 In Ahlberg, P. (ed.), Major Events in Early Vertebrate Evolution: Palaeontology, Phylogeny and Development. Systematics Association Special Volume Series 61. London, Taylor & Francis.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. and Tokaryk, T.T. (1999). Recent Discoveries of Cretaceous Marine Vertebrates on the Eastern Margins of the Western Interior Seaway. pp. 57-63 In Summary of Investigations 1999, Volume 1, Saskatchewan Geological Survey, Saskatchewan Energy and Mines, Misc. Report 99-4.1.
  • Holmes, R., Caldwell, M.W. and Cumbaa, S.L. (1999). A New Specimen of Plioplatecarpus (Mosasauridae) from the Lower Maastrichtian of Alberta: Comments on Allometry, Functional Morphology, and Paleoecology. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 36: 363-369.
  • Tokaryk, T.T., Cumbaa, S.L. and Storer, J.E. (1997). Early Late Cretaceous Birds from Saskatchewan, Canada: the Earliest Diverse Avifauna Known from North America. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 7: 172-176.
  • Smith, P.E., Evensen, N.M., York, D., Chang, M., Jin, F., Li, J., Cumbaa, S.L. and Russell, D.A. (1995). Dates and Rates in Ancient Lakes: 40Ar-39Ar Evidence for and Early Cretaceous Age for the Jehol Group, Northeast China. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 32: 1426-1431.
  • Balkwill, D.M. and Cumbaa, S.L. (1992). A Guide to the Identification of Postcranial Bones of Bos taurus and Bison bison. Syllogeus No. 71. Ottawa: Canadian Museum of Nature. 277 pp.
  • McAllister, D.E., Harington, C.R., Cumbaa, S.L. and Renaud, C.B. (1988). Paleoenvironmental and Biogeographic Analyses of Fossil Fishes in Peri-Champlain Sea Deposits in Eastern Canada. pp. 241-258 In N.R. Gadd (ed.). The Late Quaternary Development of the Champlain Sea Basin. Special Paper 35. Geological Association of Canada.
  • Balkwill, D. and Cumbaa, S.L. 1987. Salt Pork and Beef Again? The Diet of French and British Soldiers at the Casemate, Bastion St. Louis, Quebec. Research Bulletin No. 252. Ottawa: Parks Canada. 35 pp.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. 1986. Interdisciplinary Cold Water Science at Red Bay, Labrador. pp. 68-74 In Proceedings of the Second Annual Scientific Diving Symposium: Diving For Science - 1985: Practical Aspects of Research. Special Publication. Canadian Association for Underwater Science, Victoria.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. (1986). Archaeological Evidence of the 16th Century Basque Right Whale Fishery in Labrador. pp. 187-190 In Brownell, R.L., Jr., Best, P.B. and Prescott, J.N. (eds.). Right Whales: Past and Present Status. Special Issue 10. International Whaling Commission, Cambridge.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. (1984). Whale Bones and 16th Century Whaling at Red Bay, Labrador: The 1981 Season. pp. 32-33 In Keith, D.H. (ed.). Underwater Archaeology: The Proceedings of the 13th Conference on Underwater Archaeology. Fathom Eight Special Publication No. 5. Fathom Eight, San Marino, Calif.
  • Reitz, E.J. and Cumbaa, S.L. (1983). Diet and Foodways of Eighteenth Century Spanish St. Augustine. pp. 151-185 In Deagan, K.A. (ed.), The Paleoanthropology of Spanish St. Augustine. Academic Press, New York.
  • Walker, K.G. and Cumbaa, S.L. (1983). Life on the Frontier, 1665-1760: A Zooarchaeological Look at Fort Chambly, Quebec. Microfiche Report Series No. 15. Ottawa: Parks Canada. 205 pp.
  • Cumbaa, S.L., McAllister, D.E., and Morlan, R.E. (1981). Late Pleistocene Fish Fossils of Coregonus, Stenodus, Thymallus, Catostomus, Lota and Cottus from the Old Crow Basin, Northern Yukon, Canada. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 18(11):1740-1754.
  • McAllister, D.E., Cumbaa, S.L., and Harington, C.R. (1981). Pleistocene Fishes (Coregonus, Osmerus, Microgadus, Gasterosteus) from Green Creek, Ontario, Canada. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 18(8): 1356-1364.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. (1981). Preliminary Analysis of Bones from a 16th Century Spanish Basque Shipwreck and Whaling Station in Red Bay, Labrador. pp. 21-26 In Watts, G.P., Jr., (ed.), Underwater Archaeology: The Challenge Before Us (Proceedings of the 12th Conference on Underwater Archaeology). Fathom Eight Special Publication No. 2, San Marino, California.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. (1980). Aboriginal Use of Marine Mammals in the Southeastern United States. Southeastern Archaeological Conference Bulletin 17: 6-10.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. (1979). Fort Walsh: A Study of Late 19th Century Mounted Police Diet. Manuscript Report 286. National Historic Parks and Sites Branch, Parks Canada, Ottawa. 202 pp.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. and Sciscenti, J.V. (1978). Notes on Six Crania of the Grizzly Bear, Ursus arctos, from the Cypress Hills Region of Saskatchewan and Alberta. Journal of Mammalogy 59(2):431-433.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. (1976). A Dietary Reconstruction of Fortress Louisbourg: La Cuisine Haute et Basse on Isle Royale in the Eighteenth Century. Microfiche Report Series No. 19. Parks Canada, Ottawa.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. (1976). A Reconsideration of Freshwater Shellfish Exploitation in the Florida Archaic. The Florida Anthropologist 29(2): 49-59.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. (1975). Patterns of Resource Use and Cross-Cultural Dietary Change in the Spanish Colonial Period. Ph.D. dissertation in Anthropology, University of Florida. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. (1974). Population Pressure as a Factor in the Economic Characteristics of Ejido communities in the Marismas Nacionales. In Scott, S.D. (ed.), West Mexican Prehistory, part 7: 35-44. State University of New York, Buffalo.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. (1974). Subsistence Strategy at Venadillo, Sinaloa, Mexico. In Scott, S.D. (ed.), West Mexican Prehistory, part 7: 66-79. State University of New York, Buffalo.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. and Fairbanks, C.H. (1972). The Melton Site, A-169, an Intensive Harvest Economy in North Central Florida. Southeastern Archaeological Conference Bulletin 15: 34-37.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. and Gouchnour, T.H. (1970). The Colby Site (Mr-57), Marion County, Florida. The Florida Anthropologist 23(2): 43-56.

    Please write or e-mail for a list of published abstracts, book reviews, and service publications.

Science Books and Publications for Children

  • Cumbaa, S.L. (2007). Sea Monsters. A Canadian Museum of Nature Book. Kids Can Press, Toronto. 40 pp. (Margot Thompson, illustrator)
  • Cumbaa, S.L. (2006). The Bones Book and Skeleton. Revised edition. Workman Publishing, New York and Key Porter Books, Toronto. 64 pp.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. (2000). Colour Me Red - or Yellow or Blue. Yes Mag: Canada's Science Magazine for Kids. Issue 19: 18-19.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. and Hughes, S. (1998). Megalodon: the Prehistoric Shark. Somerville House Publishing, Toronto. 48 pp.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. and Stewart, K.M. (1997). The Neanderthal Book and Skeleton. Workman Publishing, New York and Somerville House Publishing, Toronto. 64 pp.
  • Anderson, K.C. and Cumbaa, S.L. (1993). The Bones and Skeleton Gamebook. Workman Publishing, New York and Somerville House Publishing, Toronto. 96 pp.
  • Cumbaa, S.L. (1991). The Bones Book and Skeleton. Somerville House, Toronto and Workman Publishing, New York. 64 pp.

Please write or e-mail for a listing of additional “popular science” articles authored or co-authored by me.

Zooarchaeological Reports

Please write or e-mail for a list of unpublished reports on archaeologically-recovered faunas authored or co-authored by me. These were primarily products of the Zooarchaeological Identification Centre of the Canadian Museum of Nature (formerly National Museum of Natural Sciences), and include analyses of prehistoric and historic period archaeological sites in Canada and the northeastern United States.