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

Trinkaus, E, Ruff, CB, Churchill, SE, and Vandermeersch, B. "Locomotion and body proportions of the Saint-Cesaire 1 Chatelperronian Neandertal." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 95.10 (1998): 5836-5840. Full Text

Churchill, SE, and Morris, AG. "Muscle Marking Morphology and Labour Intensity in Prehistoric Khoisan Foragers." International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 8.5 (1998): 390-411.

Churchill, SE. "Cold adaptation, heterochrony, and Neandertals." Evolutionary Anthropology 7.2 (1998): 46-61.

Pearson, OM, Churchill, SE, Grine, FE, Trinkaus, E, and Holliday, TW. "Multivariate analyses of the hominid ulna from Klasies River Mouth." Journal of Human Evolution 34.6 (1998): 653-656.

Churchill, SE, and Formicola, V. "A Case of Marked Bilateral Asymmetry in the Upper Limbs of an Upper Palaeolithic Male from Barma Grande (Liguria), Italy." International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 7.1 (1997): 18-38.

Byers, SN, Churchill, SE, and Curran, B. "Identification of Euro-Americans, Afro-Americans, and Amerindians from palatal dimensions." Journal of Forensic Sciences 42.1 (1997): 3-9.

Churchill, SE, Pearson, OM, Grine, FE, Trinkaus, E, and Holliday, TW. "Morphological affinities of the proximal ulna from Klasies River main site: Archaic or modern?." Journal of Human Evolution 31.3 (1996): 213-237. Full Text

Churchill, SE. "Particulate versus integrated evolution of the upper body in late pleistocene humans: A test of two models." American Journal of Physical Anthropology 100.4 (1996): 559-583. Full Text

Trinkaus, E, Churchill, SE, and Ruff, CB. "Postcranial robusticity in Homo. II: Humeral bilateral asymmetry and bone plasticity." American Journal of Physical Anthropology 93.1 (1994): 1-34. Full Text

Churchill, SE. "Weapon Technology, Prey Size Selection, and Hunting Methods in Modern Hunter-Gatherers: Implications for Hunting in the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic." Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association 4.1 (January 1993): 11-24. Full Text