Matt Cartmill

Professor Emeritus of Evolutionary Anthropology

External address: 
108 Biological Sciences Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: 
DUMC, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 684-2971


I have recently begun preliminary work on a course of experimental research into the origins of human bipedalism. Known remains of the earliest bipedal human precursors (Australopithecus afarensis in East Africa and Australopithecus africanus in Southern Africa) exhibit two odd autapomorphies not found in Recent large-bodied hominoids: an exaggerated interacetabular distance, and an elongated lumbar segment of the vertebral column. From published studies of human and bird bipedalism, from theoretical expectations based on my earlier studies of primate locomotion, and from what is known about the morphology and habitat of the earliest hominids, I hypothesize that these singular specializations, which do not fit received models of the early evolution of hominid bipedalism, may represent adaptations for running. Experimental studies of locomotion in humans are being undertaken in collaboration with our Postdoctoral Fellow Daniel Schmitt to test various hypotheses concerning the possible functional significance of these australopithecine peculiarities. Preliminary findings on pelvic rotation in human running were presented at the AAPA meetings in April.

Degrees & Credentials

  • Ph.D., University of Chicago 1970

  • M.A., University of Chicago 1966

  • B.A., Pomona College 1964

The Evolution of Diagonal Sequence Gifts in Primates: A New Approach to the Problem awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2002 to 2007

Historical, Philosophical and Empirical Perspectives on Animal Consciousness awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1999 to 2000

Thoracic Shape And Arm Mobility In Primates awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1996 to 1997

The Phylogeny Of The Cheirogaleidae awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1990 to 1992

Cartmill, M, and Smith, FH. The Human Lineage. John Wiley & Sons, September 20, 2011. (Textbook)

CARTMILL, M, and Cartmill, M. A View to a Death in the Morning hunting and nature through history. Harvard University Press, June 30, 2009. (Monograph)

Cartmill, M. Das Bambi-Syndrom Jagdleidenschaft und Misanthropie in der Kulturgeschichte. Hamburg: Rohwohlt, January 1995. (Monograph)

Cartmill, M. Hito wa naze korosu ka?. Tokyo: Shinyoshya Publishers, 1995. (Monograph)

Cartmill, M. Tod im Morgengrauen das Verhältnis des Menschen zu Natur und Jagd. Zürich: Artemis & Winkler, 1993. (Monograph)

Cartmill, M, Hylander, WL, and Shafland, J. Human Structure. Harvard University Press, 1987.

Cartmill, M. "Review of The Philosophy of Human Evolution by Michael Ruse." Reports of the National Center for Science Education 33.1 (2013): 4.1-4.3.

Cartmill, M. "Review of Darwin and Design by Michael Ruse." American Journal of Physical Anthropology 128 (2005): 490-492.

Cartmill, M. "Review of Catastrophes and Other Calamities by Tony Hallam." TLS - The Times Literary Supplement September 9 (2005): 26-26.

Cartmill, M. "Review of Icons of Evolution — Science or Myth? by Jonathan Wells." Reports of the National Center for Science Education 25.Sept - Dec (2005): 47-50.

Cartmill, M. "Men behaving childishly (Review of The Eternal Child by Clive Bromhall)." TLS - The Times Literary Supplement 5223.May 8 (2003): 28-28.

Cartmill, M. "Mystery of the missing animals (Review of Life on a Young Planet by Andrew H. Knoll)." TLS - The Times Literary Supplement 5232.july 11 (2003): 12-12.

Cartmill, M. "Review of Mystery of Mysteries: Is Evolution a Social Construction? by Michael Ruse." Reports of the National Center for Science Education 19.5 (2000): 43-44.


Cartmill, M, and Brown, K. "Series introduction." Thin on the Ground: Neandertal Biology, Archeology, and Ecology by Steven E. Churchill. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014. ix-x. (Introduction)

Cartmill, M. "Pads and Claws in Arboreal Locomotion." Primate Locomotion. June 8, 2012. 45-83. Full Text

Brown, K, and Cartmill, M. "Foreword." Human Population Genetics by J. Relethford. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. vii-viii. (Foreword)

Cartmill, M. "Primate Classification and Diversity." Primate Neuroethology. February 1, 2010. Full Text

Brook, K, and Cartmill, M. "75 years of the annual meetings of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, 1930-2004." Histories of American Physical Anthropology in the Twentieth Century. Ed. MA Little and KAR Kennedy. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2010. 221-232. (Chapter)

Daubechies, I. "Foreword." January 10, 2009. xv-xvi.

Cartmill, M, Lemelin, P, and Schmitt, D. "Primate gaits and primate origins." Primate Origins: Adaptations and Evolution. New York: Springer, 2006. 403-436. (Chapter)

Cartmill, M. "Is there a biological basis for morality?." The Nature of Difference: Science, Society, and Human Biology. Ed. GTH Ellison and A Goodman. London: Taylor & Francis, 2006. 3-16. (Chapter)

Brown, K, and Cartmill, M. "Series introduction." Fundamentals of Forensic Anthropology by L. Klepinger. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2006. xiii-xiv. (Introduction)

Cartmill, M. "Charles Oxnard: an appreciation." Shaping Primate Evolution. Ed. F Anapol, R German, and N Jablonski. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. 1-7. (Chapter)


Grochowski, CO, Cartmill, M, Reiter, J, Spaulding, J, Haviland, J, Valea, F, Thibodeau, PL, McCorison, S, and Halperin, EC. "Anxiety in first year medical students taking gross anatomy." Clinical anatomy (New York, N.Y.) 27.6 (September 2014): 835-838. Full Text

Cartmill, M. "The end of higher taxa: a reply to Tattersall." Evol Anthropol 22.4 (July 2013): 172-173. Full Text

Cartmill, M. "Primate origins, human origins, and the end of higher taxa." Evolutionary Anthropology 21.6 (November 1, 2012): 208-220. Full Text

Lemelin, P, and Cartmill, M. "The Effect of Substrate Size on the Locomotion and Gait Patterns of the Kinkajou (Potos flavus)." JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL ZOOLOGY PART A-ECOLOGICAL GENETICS AND PHYSIOLOGY 313A.3 (March 1, 2010): 157-168. Full Text

Cartmill, M. "The Human (R)evolution(s)." EVOLUTIONARY ANTHROPOLOGY 19.3 (2010): 89-91. Full Text

Cartmill, M. "Bigfoot exposed: An anthropologist examines America's enduring legend." AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY 135.1 (January 2008): 117-118. Full Text

Cartmill, M. "Sasquatch: Legend meets science." AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY 135.1 (January 2008): 117-118. Full Text

Cartmill, M, Lemelin, P, and Schmitt, D. "Primate gaits and primate origins." (December 1, 2007): 403-435. (Chapter) Full Text

Cartmill, M, Lemelin, P, and Schmitt, D. "Understanding the adaptive value of diagonal-sequence gaits in primates: a comment on Shapiro and Raichlen, 2005." Am J Phys Anthropol 133.2 (June 2007): 822-825. Full Text

Schmitt, D, Cartmill, M, Griffin, TM, Hanna, JB, and Lemelin, P. "Adaptive value of ambling gaits in primates and other mammals." J Exp Biol 209.Pt 11 (June 2006): 2042-2049. Full Text


Cartmill, M. "Turtles all the way down: the Atlas of Creation." Reports of the National Center for Science Education 31.2 (2011): 1-10. (Scholarly Commentary)

Kirk, EC, Cartmill, M, Kay, RF, and Lemelin, P. "Comment on "Grasping primate origins"." Science 300.5620 (May 2, 2003): 741-. Full Text

Cartmill, M. "Replies to correspondents." Phi Beta Kappa Key Reporter 66.2 (2001): 11-11. (Scholarly Commentary)

Cartmill, M. "Understanding the evil that men do." Chronicle of Higher Education 2 (June 2000): B4-B6. (Academic Article)

Cartmill, M. "The ascent of words." Pomona College Magazine Summer (2000): 14-18. (Scholarly Commentary)

Cartmill, M. "A view on the science: physical anthropology at the millennium." American Journal of Physical Anthropology 113 (2000): 145-149. (Scholarly Commentary)

Cartmill, M, and Lofstrom, I. "Introduction to the symposium "Animal Consciousness: Historical, Theoretical, and Empirical Perspectives"." American Zoologist 40 (2000): 833-834. (Scholarly Commentary)

Cartmill, M. "Language and human evolution." AnthroQuest 8 (1999): 1-4. (Academic Article)

Cartmill, M. "Polly want a big hypoglossal nerve? (Reply to R. A. Koster)." Discover (December 1998): 16-. (Academic Article)

Cartmill, M. "The gift of gab." Discover (November 1998): 56-64. (Scholarly Commentary)