Steven E. Churchill

Professor in the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology

External address: 
Duke University, Evolutionary Anthropology, 130 Science Drive, Room 108, Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: 
Duke Box 90383, Durham, NC 27708-0383
(919) 660-7314


I am a human paleontologist studying morphological and behavioral adaptation in archaic and modern humans of the Middle and Late Pleistocene. Through comparative functional-morphological analysis of human fossil remains, coupled with investigation of the archeological record of prehistoric human behavior, my students and I conduct research in the following inter-related areas:

1) The ecology, energetics and adaptive strategies of premodern members of the genus Homo (especially the Neandertals [Homo neanderthalensis] of Europe and western Asia and Middle Pleistocene archaic humans of Africa [variously attributed to H. heidelbergensis, H. rhodesiensis or H. helmei] ) and early members of our own species [H. sapiens] in Africa, the Near East and Europe.

2) The evolution of human subsistence strategies across the Middle and Late Pleistocene, with an emphasis on the nature of the hunting methods employed by various groups.

3) The evolution of subsistence technology, especially the origins of true long-range projectile weaponry.

4) The community ecology of humans and large-bodied carnivores in Pleistocene Europe and Africa.

In addition to this basic research, our team is also actively engaged in fieldwork in southern Africa, with the goal of improving our understanding of the morphology and behavior of Middle Stone Age-associated early modern humans and their immediate ancestors (African Middle Pleistocene archaic humans).

Degrees & Credentials

  • Ph.D., University of New Mexico 1994

  • M.A., University of New Mexico 1989

  • B.S., Virginia Polytech Institute and State University 1981

Churchill, SE. "Hand morphology, manipulation, and tool use in Neandertals and early modern humans of the Near East." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 98.6 (March 13, 2001): 2953-2955. (Review) Full Text

Churchill, SE, and Smith, FH. "A modern human humerus from the early aurignacian of Vogelherdhöhle (Stetten, Germany)." Am J Phys Anthropol 112.2 (June 2000): 251-273. Full Text

Holt, BM, Mussi, M, Churchill, SE, and Formicola, V. "Biological and cultural trends in Upper Palaeolithic Europe." Riv. Anthropol 78 (2000): 179-192. (Academic Article)

Churchill, SE, Brink, JS, Berger, LR, Hutchison, RA, Rossouw, L, Stynder, D, Hancox, PJ, Brandt, D, Woodborne, S, Loock, JC, Scott, L, and Ungar, P. "Erfkroon: A new Florisian fossil locality from fluvial contexts in the western Free State, South Africa." South African Journal of Science 96.4 (2000): 161-163.

Churchill, SE, Berger, LR, and Parkington, JE. "A Middle Pleistocene human tibia from Hoedjiespunt, Western Cape, South Africa." South African Journal of Science 96.7 (2000): 367-368.

Churchill, SE, and Smith, FH. "Makers of the early Aurignacian of Europe." Am J Phys Anthropol Suppl 31 (2000): 61-115.

Churchill, SE, and Smith, FH. "Makers of the Early Aurignacian of Europe." Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 43 (2000): 61-115.

Trinkaus, E, Churchill, SE, Ruff, CB, and Vandermeersch, B. "Long bone shaft robusticity of body proportions of the Saint-Cesaire 1 and Chatelperronian Neanderthal." Journal of Archaeological Science 26.7 (1999): 753-773. Full Text

Trinkaus, E, and Churchill, SE. "Diaphyseal cross-sectional geometry of Near Eastern Middle Palaeolithic humans: The humerus." Journal of Archaeological Science 26.2 (1999): 173-184. Full Text

Hamrick, MW, Churchill, SE, Schmitt, D, and Hylander, WL. "EMG of the human flexor pollicis longus muscle: implications for the evolution of hominid tool use." J Hum Evol 34.2 (February 1998): 123-136. Full Text