Herman Pontzer

Herman Pontzer

Associate Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology


How did the human body evolve, and how does our species' deep past shape our health and physiology today? Through lab and field research, I investigate the physiology of humans and apes to understand how ecology, lifestyle, diet, and evolutionary history affect metabolism and health. I'm also interested in how ecology and evolution influence musculoskeletal design and physical activity. Field projects focus on small-scale societies, including hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers, in Africa and South America. Lab research focuses on energetics and metabolism, including respirometry and doubly labeled water methods.

Degrees & Credentials

  • Ph.D., Harvard University 2006

Raichlen, D. A., et al. “The evolution of the human endurance phenotype.” Routledge Handbook of Sport and Exercise Systems Genetics, 2019, pp. 135–47. Scopus, doi:10.4324/9781315146287-11. Full Text

Horiuchi, Masahiro, et al. “Sex differences in respiratory and circulatory cost during hypoxic walking: potential impact on oxygen saturation.Scientific Reports, vol. 9, no. 1, July 2019, p. 9550. Epmc, doi:10.1038/s41598-019-44844-6. Full Text

Pontzer, H. “Step on it.” New Scientist, vol. 242, no. 3234, June 2019, pp. 34–37. Scopus, doi:10.1016/S0262-4079(19)31086-3. Full Text

Thurber, Caitlin, et al. “Extreme events reveal an alimentary limit on sustained maximal human energy expenditure.Science Advances, vol. 5, no. 6, June 2019, p. eaaw0341. Epmc, doi:10.1126/sciadv.aaw0341. Full Text Open Access Copy

Gurven, Michael, et al. “Methodological differences cannot explain associations between health, anthropometrics, and excess resting metabolic rate.American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 169, no. 1, May 2019, pp. 197–98. Epmc, doi:10.1002/ajpa.23811. Full Text

Rosinger, Asher Y., et al. “Age-related decline in urine concentration may not be universal: Comparative study from the U.S. and two small-scale societies.American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 168, no. 4, Apr. 2019, pp. 705–16. Epmc, doi:10.1002/ajpa.23788. Full Text

Christopher, Lauren, et al. “High energy requirements and water throughput of adult Shuar forager-horticulturalists of Amazonian Ecuador.American Journal of Human Biology : The Official Journal of the Human Biology Council, Feb. 2019, p. e23223. Epmc, doi:10.1002/ajhb.23223. Full Text

Pontzer, Herman. “Method and rationale for recalculating dilution spaces to a single, common time point in doubly labeled water studies.European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 72, no. 12, Dec. 2018, pp. 1620–24. Epmc, doi:10.1038/s41430-018-0361-1. Full Text

Pontzer, H., et al. “Hunter-gatherers as models in public health.Obesity Reviews : An Official Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, vol. 19 Suppl 1, Dec. 2018, pp. 24–35. Epmc, doi:10.1111/obr.12785. Full Text

Pontzer, Herman. “Energy Constraint as a Novel Mechanism Linking Exercise and Health.Physiology (Bethesda, Md.), vol. 33, no. 6, Nov. 2018, pp. 384–93. Epmc, doi:10.1152/physiol.00027.2018. Full Text

Pontzer, Herman. “Alternative Energy Physiological evolution in the human lineage.” Natural History, vol. 126, no. 8, NATURAL HISTORY MAGAZINE, Sept. 2018, pp. 37–39.


Horiuchi, Masahiro, et al. “Sex Differences In Respiratory And Circulatory Cost And Arterial Oxygen Saturation During Hypoxic Walking.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, vol. 51, no. Supplement, Ovid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer Health), 2019, pp. 458–458. Crossref, doi:10.1249/01.mss.0000561874.25337.90. Full Text

Ocobock, Cara, et al. “Sustained high levels of physical activity lead to improved performance among "Race Across the USA" athletes.American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 168, no. 4, 2019, pp. 789–94. Epmc, doi:10.1002/ajpa.23781. Full Text

Hora, Martin, et al. “Persistence hunting in Levant: Both Neandertals and modern humans could run down a horse.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 168, WILEY, 2019, pp. 107–107.

Kozma, Elaine E., et al. “Arboreal Positional Behavior in Humans, Chimpanzees, and Gorillas.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 168, WILEY, 2019, pp. 131–131.

Swanson, Zane S., et al. “The effect of the alpha-actinin 3 (ACTN3) R577X polymorphism and mtDNA on energy expenditure in modern humans.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 168, WILEY, 2019, pp. 242–43.

Sayre, M. Katherine, et al. “Influence of physical activity on aging and frailty in human foragers.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 168, WILEY, 2019, pp. 217–217.

Wood, Brian M., et al. “Hadza Hunter-Gatherers Exhibit Gender Differences in Space Use and Spatial Cognition Consistent with the Ecology of Male and Female Targeted Foods.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 168, WILEY, 2019, pp. 273–74.

Pontzer, H., et al. “Water throughput in humans and apes.” American Journal of Human Biology, vol. 31, no. 2, WILEY, 2019.

Urlacher, S. S., et al. “The energetic ecology of childhood: Tradeoffs in energy allocation and the impact of market integration on ontogeny and health.” American Journal of Human Biology, vol. 31, no. 2, WILEY, 2019.