Richard G. Klein is Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford University. His research and writing center on human biological and behavioral origins. He has conducted paleoanthropological fieldwork in Spain and especially in South Africa, where he has focused on sites that illuminate the evolution of human behavior over the last 200,000 years.

Research Interests

I am a paleoanthropologist focusing on the fossil and archeological evidence for human evolution and particularly on the origins of fully modern humans. I have conducted field work in Spain and especially in South Africa, where I've analyzed animal remains from more than 100 archaeological and fossil sites dating between 500,000 years ago and the time of historic contact, about 500 years ago. I've shown how both species composition and average adult size in key mammalian species can be used to detect environmental change, including glacial/interglacial alternation, and I've developed criteria for distinguishing bone assemblages accumulated by people from ones accumulated by hyenas and other carnivores. However, I've worked mainly to illuminate long-term change in prehistoric human ability to hunt and gather. My research in South Africa implies that an especially important hunting-gathering advance occurred about 60,000-50,000 years ago. It promoted significantly larger populations and it has global implications, for it helps to explain how and why modern Africans expanded to Eurasia about the same time and how they then quickly replaced the Neanderthals and other non-modern Eurasians.

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Primary Section

Section 27: Evolutionary Biology

Secondary Section

Section 51: Anthropology