Kayla Worthey

Graduate Research Assistant, Desert Laboratory

PhD student, School of Anthropology

I am a zooarchaeologist and stable isotope biogeochemist with ongoing research projects in Mexico, Morocco, and Turkey. I am currently working towards a Ph.D. in the University of Arizona School of Anthropology with a minor in Geosciences. My research interests primarily lie in understanding paleoenvironmental change and the human responses to this change, particularly during the Pleistocene and early Holocene in different parts of the world.

As part of my work with the Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill, I am studying the faunas from the Las Tortugas site in the Gran Desierto of Sonora, Mexico. This work seeks to deepen our understanding of the environments experienced by the early peoples of Northwest Mexico.

More of my ongoing research in Sonora includes work at El Fin del Mundo, a site with the only yet known Clovis-gomphothere association, and at shell midden sites in the Puerto Peñasco region. My master’s research focused on the relationship between environment and site occupation intensity at the Paleolithic site of Üçağızlı I, Turkey. For my dissertation, I am constructing local paleoenvironmental records for Moroccan Paleolithic sites by studying the stable isotope biogeochemistry of animal teeth, mollusk shells, and site sediments in order to provide context for the appearance (and disappearance) of precocious human behaviors and technologies in the archaeological record, such as the early use of ornaments.


Worthey, K. B., Stiner, M. C., Quade, J., Rowland, J., & Kuhn, S. L. (2022) Paleolithic human responses to changing aridity at Üçağızlı I and II Caves, south-central Turkey: Application of a novel carbon isotope-based method. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory,1–39.

Sahesseh, E.M., Fernandez, P., Kuhn, S., Stiner, M., Mentzer, S., Colarossi, D., Clark, A., Lanoe, F., Pailes, M., Hoffman, D., Benson, A., Rhodes, E., Benmansour, M., Laissaoui, A.,      Ziani,   I., Vidal-Matutano, P., Morales, J., Djellal, Y., Longet, B., Hublin, J., Mouhiddine, M., Rafi, F., Worthey, K. B., Sanchez-Morales, I., Ghayati, N., & Bouzouggar, A. (2021) Early Middle Stone Age personal ornaments at Bizmoune Cave, Morocco. Science Advances7(39).


  • BA, University of Washington (2014)
  • MA, University of Arizona (2017)