Ian Tattersall, PhD

Ian Tattersall, PhD

Ian Tattersall is Curator Emeritus of Human Origins, Division of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History, and Professor Emeritus, Richard Gilder Graduate School. Dr. Tattersall has concentrated his research over the past quarter-century on the analysis of the human fossil record and the study of the ecology and systematics of the lemurs of Madagascar, and is considered a leader in both areas. Over the last several years his research interests have been trending increasingly toward the question of how and when Homo sapiens became the extraordinary cognitive entity it is, and to developing a framework for understanding how a non-linguistic, non-symbolic ancestor can have given rise to a symbolic and linguistic descendant: a matter broached in his book Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins.

Dr. Tattersall is also exploring the reasons behind the extraordinarily fast evolution of the hominids over the Pleistocene: no other species of any organism is anywhere near as different morphologically (and presumptively behaviorally) from its own ancestors living two million years ago than is Homo sapiens. In addition to Madagascar, he has conducted fieldwork in the Comoro Islands, Mauritius, Borneo, Nigeria, Niger, Sudan, Yemen, Vietnam, Surinam, French Guiana, Reunion, and the United States.

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