Research interests

I am a bit of an odd anthropologist. Anthropology is usually defined as the scientific study of humans, past and present. In North America, anthropology is widely viewed as having four fields: archaeology, biological anthropology, sociocultural anthropology, and linguistic anthropology. Typically, anthropologists work within one of these fields. That’s not been my approach. I’ve pursued questions that I think are interesting and important regardless of the field to which a given question is thought to “belong.” As a consequence, I’ve worked with many different types of data from a wide range of time periods and regions. Some of my studies have focused on early hominin fossils. Others have examined stone projectile points. Still others have concentrated on Neolithic pottery. I have even worked on the behaviour of living humans. The constants in my research have been evolutionary theory and the hypothesis testing approach. More or less every study I have pursued has combined the conceptual and analytical tools of evolutionary biology with explicit hypothesis testing. I have found it to be a productive and rewarding way of doing anthropology.

The following are among the topics I have worked on over the last 20 years:
– Species identification in the hominin fossil record.
– The phylogenetic relationships of the hominins and other primates.
– The origin and evolution of genus Homo.
– Modern human origins.
– The impact of thermoregulation on human evolution.
– Culture in non-human animals.
– The processes responsible for the evolution of cultural diversity.
– The determinants of variation in toolkit structure among non-industrial populations.
– The use of radiocarbon dates to investigate demographic change in the past.
– The transition to farming in Europe.
– The colonization and early history of the Americas.
– The evolution of religion.