Students gathered around a teaching assistant, who is holding a fossil skull.
Elaine Guevara sales at the camera. She is leaning against a lab bench, next to a centrifuge and a set of pipettes.
Close-up of a chimpanzee looking at the camera

Our Mission

Evolutionary anthropology is the study of humankind's place in nature. The central questions of this unique discipline revolve around reconstructing how humans arose from our primate ancestors, interrogating the attributes that make us distinct, and investigating how our evolutionary past shapes human diversity, health, and society today.

Our focus on these questions connects us with our colleagues in the other natural and social sciences and in the humanities – with everyone who is working at some level on what it means to be human. To address questions of human nature and human evolution, evolutionary anthropology focuses on morphology, physiology, genetics, ecology, behavior, and cognition of humans and non-human primates, as viewed from an evolutionary perspective. Central areas of research include evolutionary relationships among living and extinct groups of primates, the functional and adaptive significance of trait variation in humans and other primates, and the evolutionary mechanisms that have shaped human evolution.

Learn More

Undergraduate Programs

We offer Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degrees. You can pursue a concentration in either Anatomy and Paleoanthropology; Behavior, Ecology and Cognition; or Human Biology, or mix and match courses from different areas of interests within the discipline of evolutionary anthropology. You can also pursue a Comprehensive Science Teaching License, offered in collaboration with Duke's Education Program. Non-majors can pursue a minor in evolutionary anthropology.

Learn More

Featured Courses

Featured Course

Covers evolutionary approaches to understand human health at a global scale. Integration of evolutionary thinking and medical science provides new insights to a wide array of medical issues including… read more about Evolutionary Medicine and Global Health »


Survey of field methods used to document primate behavior. Laboratory includes observations of free-ranging and captive primates at the Duke Lemur Center. Focus on the scientific process and writing… read more about Primate Field Biology »


An introduction to the basics of human osteological analysis. Identification and siding of all the bones of the human body and the major osteological landmarks on each bone; basics of bone histology… read more about Human Osteology »

Graduate Program

The Department of Evolutionary Anthropology offers Ph.D. students diverse training opportunities for the study of primate behavior, ecology, genetics, morphology, phylogenetics, and evolution.

Our doctoral program provides students with foundational course work and guides them through the development of a dissertation project. The program is designed to be completed in five years, and our students are fully funded (tuition, fees, health insurance, and stipend) by the Graduate School for that interval.

Learn More

Our Research & Labs

We focus on the evolutionary history of the mammalian radiation containing the human species and on the origins of human nature. By being taxon-based, evolutionary anthropology is inherently interdisciplinary, and brings techniques and concepts from a variety of traditional academic disciplines to bear on the core questions of who we are and where we came from. These disciplines include evolutionary biology, archaeology, geology, paleontology, behavioral ecology, genetics, developmental biology, psychology, economics and other social sciences.

Learn More

graduation icon
Degrees Offered
research icon
Undergraduate Concentrations
department icon
Research Fields & Labs