Elwyn L Simons
  • Elwyn L Simons

  • James B Duke Professor Emeritus and Scientific Director, Duke University Primate Center
  • Evolutionary Anthropology
  • 1013 Broad Street
  • Campus Box 90444
  • Phone: +1 919 416 8420 x 27, +1 919 416 8433
  • Fax: (919) 416-8584
  • Homepage
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Specialties

    • Primate Paleontology & Morphology
    • Primate Biology
  • Research Summary

    Anthropoid origins and evolution
  • Research Description

    Dr. Elwyn L. Simons is primarily interested in the history, general biology, and behavior of living and extinct primates. His primary research concerns focus on the early evolution of anthropoids in the late Eocene and early Oligocene of the Fayum Depression, Egypt; the paleoecology, dating, taphonomy, anatomy, and relationships of extinct placentals from these sites; dating, extinctions, anatomy, and relationships of giant subfossil lemurs of Madagascar; behavioral and conservation studies of extant Malagasy lemurs; the evolutionary history and relationships of middle and late Tertiary apes, as well as Plio-Pleistocene hominids. Dr. Simons has led over 70 field expeditions to Egypt, Madagascar, India, Iran, Nepal, and Wyoming.

    He has held professional appointments at Yale University (1960-1977), Duke University (1977- present), and was the Director of the Duke Primate Center (1977-1991) and Scientific Director (1991- 2001). He has authored nearly 300 scientific publications and is the holder of many high honors. Dr. Simons is a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, as well as many other professional associations. He was elected a “Knight of the National Order” by the government of Madagascar and has been the recipient of many awards including the prestigious Charles R. Darwin Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.

  • Current Projects

    Fayum paleoanthropology
  • Areas of Interest

    Paleontology
    Primate Evolution
    Anthropoid Evolution
    Primate Ecology/Conservation

    I am interested in the biology and behavior of living and fossil primates, the diversification of archaic mammals, the origin and radiation of both anthropoideans and Hominidae, and in primate conservation and behavior. My publications have contributed to the understanding of primate history, dating and paleo-environmental context, particularly of Eocene primates of Europe and North America and of the wide variety of Eocene/ Oligocene primates from Egypt that include the earliest well-known higher primates. These contributions deal particularly with the timing and nature of anthropoid origins and diversification. Over the years I have published extensively about the Old World radiation of Miocene-Pliocene apes and its relationship to origin of Hominidae. Several symposia on hominid evolution were organized by me, and I have held a life-long interest in both researching and teaching about various aspects of hominid evolution. I have contributed much to details of primate classification and have described many genera and species. I have also carried out projects dealing with the description, classification, behavior, reproduction, and captive conservation of living prosimians and the anatomy, dating, environments, and causes of extinction of the extinct giant lemurs of Madagascar. I am interested in the conservation of living primates.
  • Education

      • PhD,
      • Princeton University,
      • 1956
      • Ph.D.,
      • Princeton University,
      • 1956
      • D.Sc.,
      • University College, Oxford,
      • 1995
      • D.Sc.,
      • University Of Oxford,
      • 1995
      • M.A. (Hon.),
      • Yale University,
      • 1967
      • D. Phil,
      • University College, Oxford,
      • 1959
      • Ph.D.,
      • University Of Oxford,
      • 1959
      • M.A.,
      • Princeton University,
      • 1955
      • B.S.,
      • W.M. Rice University,
      • 1953
  • Awards, Honors and Distinctions

      • Lifetime Achievement Award, Geological Survey and Mining Authority of Egypt,
      • 2001
      • Recipient of the Charles R. Darwin Award of the American Association of Physical Anthropology,
      • 2000
      • Elected “Knight of the National Order” of Madagascar, Government of Madagascar,
      • 1998
      • Medalist, Centennial Celebration of the Egyptian Geological Survey,
      • 1996
      • Elected member of American Philosophical Society,
      • 1994
      • Awarded Honorary citizenship Fayum Province, Egypt,
      • 1983
      • Elected to membership, U.S. National Academy of Science,
      • 1981
      • Winner of the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientist's Award, Germany,
      • 1975-1976
      • Awarded the Annandale Memorial Medal from the Asiatic Society of Calcutta,
      • 1973
      • R.C. Hunt Memorial Fellow in Anthropology, Viking Fund,
      • 1965
      • Boise Fund Fellow, Oxford,
      • 1958-1959
      • Fulbright Fellow, Utrecht University, Holland (declined),
      • 1956
      • General George Marshall Scholar, Oxford University,
      • 1956-1959
  • Selected Publications

      • Seiffert ER, Simons EL, Attia Y.
      • 2003.
      • Fossil evidence for an ancient divergence of lorises and galagos.
      • Nature
      • 422:
      • 421-424
      • .
      • Simons EL.
      • 2001.
      • The cranium of Parapithecus grangeri, an Egyptian Oligocene anthropoidean primate.
      • 98:
      • 7892-7897
      • .
      • Simons EL, Seiffert ER, Chatrath PS, and Attia Y.
      • 2002.
      • Earliest record of a parapithecid anthropoid from the Jebel Qatrani Formation, northern Egypt.
      • Folia Primatologica
      • 72:
      • 316-331
      • .
      • Seiffert ER, and Simons EL.
      • 2001.
      • Astragalar morphology of Late Eocene anthropoids from the Fayum Depression (Egypt) and the origin of catarrhine primates.
      • Journal of Human Evolution
      • 41:
      • 577-605
      • .
      • Seiffert ER, Simons EL, and Fleagle JG.
      • 2000.
      • Anthropoid humeri from the late Eocene of Egypt.
      • 97:
      • 10062-10067
      • .
      • Simons EL, and Seiffert ER.
      • 1999.
      • A partial skeleton of Proteopithecus sylviae (Primates, Anthropoidea): first associated dental and postcranial remains of an Eocene anthropoidean.
      • 329:
      • 921-927
      • .
      • Simons EL, Plavcan JM, and Fleagle JG.
      • 1999.
      • Canine sexual dimorphism in Egyptian Eocene anthropoid primates: Catopithecus and Proteopithecus.
      • 96:
      • 2559-2562
      • .
      • Simons EL.
      • 1998.
      • The prosimian fauna of the fayum Eocene/Oligocene deposits of Egypt.
      • Folia Primatologica
      • 69:
      • 286-294
      • .
      • Simons EL.
      • 1997.
      • Preliminary description of the cranium of Proteopithecus sylviae, an Egyptian late Eocene anthropoidean primate.
      • 94:
      • 14970-14975
      • .
      • Simons EL, and Rasmussen DT.
      • 1996.
      • Skull of Catopithecus browni, an early tertiary catarrhine.
      • American Journal of Physical Anthropology
      • 100:
      • 261-292
      • .
      • Wunderlich RE, Simons EL, and Jungers WL.
      • 1996.
      • New pedal remains of Megaladapis and their functional significance.
      • American Journal of Physical Anthropology
      • 100:
      • 115-138
      • .
  • View All Publications
  • Search Publications
  • PhD Students