Matt Cartmill

Matt Cartmill

Professor Emeritus of Evolutionary Anthropology

External address: 
108 Biological Sciences Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: 
DUMC, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 684-2971


I have recently begun preliminary work on a course of experimental research into the origins of human bipedalism. Known remains of the earliest bipedal human precursors (Australopithecus afarensis in East Africa and Australopithecus africanus in Southern Africa) exhibit two odd autapomorphies not found in Recent large-bodied hominoids: an exaggerated interacetabular distance, and an elongated lumbar segment of the vertebral column. From published studies of human and bird bipedalism, from theoretical expectations based on my earlier studies of primate locomotion, and from what is known about the morphology and habitat of the earliest hominids, I hypothesize that these singular specializations, which do not fit received models of the early evolution of hominid bipedalism, may represent adaptations for running. Experimental studies of locomotion in humans are being undertaken in collaboration with our Postdoctoral Fellow Daniel Schmitt to test various hypotheses concerning the possible functional significance of these australopithecine peculiarities. Preliminary findings on pelvic rotation in human running were presented at the AAPA meetings in April.

Degrees & Credentials

  • Ph.D., The University of Chicago 1970

  • M.A., The University of Chicago 1966

  • B.A., Pomona College 1964

Selected Grants

The Evolution of Diagonal Sequence Gifts in Primates: A New Approach to the Problem awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2002 to 2007

Historical, Philosophical and Empirical Perspectives on Animal Consciousness awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1999 to 2000

Thoracic Shape And Arm Mobility In Primates awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1996 to 1997

The Phylogeny Of The Cheirogaleidae awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1990 to 1992

Cartmill, M., and F. H. Smith. The Human Lineage. John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

CARTMILL, M., and M. Cartmill. A View to a Death in the Morning hunting and nature through history. Harvard University Press, 2009.

Cartmill, M. Hito wa naze korosu ka? Shinyoshya Publishers, 1995.

Cartmill, Matt, et al. Human Structure. Harvard University Press, 1987.

Cartmill, M. “Review of Rough and Tumble: Aggression, Hunting, and Human Evolution by Travis Rayne Pickering.” Quarterly Review of Biology, vol. 90, University of Chicago Press, 2015, pp. 92–92.

Cartmill, M. “Review of The Philosophy of Human Evolution by Michael Ruse.” Reports of the National Center for Science Education, vol. 33, no. 1, 2013, pp. 4.1-4.3.

Cartmill, M. “So long, science (Review of Why I Am Not a Scientist: Anthropology and Modern Knowledge by Jonathan Marks).” Evolutionary Anthropology, vol. 19, Wiley: 12 months, 2010, pp. 271–72.

Cartmill, M. “Review of Bigfoot Exposed: An Anthopologist Examines America’s Enduring Legend by David J. Daegling and Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science by Jeff Meldrum.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 135, Wiley: 12 months, 2008, pp. 117–18.

Cartmill, M. “Review of Darwin and Design by Michael Ruse.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 128, Wiley: 12 months, 2005, pp. 490–92.

Cartmill, M. “Review of Catastrophes and Other Calamities by Tony Hallam.” Tls  the Times Literary Supplement, no. September 9, 2005, pp. 26–26.

Cartmill, M. “Review of Icons of Evolution — Science or Myth? by Jonathan Wells.” Reports of the National Center for Science Education, vol. 25, no. Sept-Dec, 2005, pp. 47–50.

Cartmill, M. “Mystery of the missing animals (Review of Life on a Young Planet by Andrew H. Knoll).” Tls  the Times Literary Supplement, vol. 5232, no. july 11, 2003, pp. 12–12.

Cartmill, M. “Men behaving childishly (Review of The Eternal Child by Clive Bromhall).” Tls  the Times Literary Supplement, vol. 5223, no. May 8, 2003, pp. 28–28.

Cartmill, M. “Review of Mystery of Mysteries: Is Evolution a Social Construction? by Michael Ruse.” Reports of the National Center for Science Education, vol. 19, no. 5, 2000, pp. 43–44.


Chew, W. C. Foreword. Vol. 1–4, 2016, pp. vii–viii. Scopus, doi:10.1007/978-981-4560-44-3. Full Text

Cartmill, M., and K. Brown. “Series introduction.” Thin on the Ground: Neandertal Biology, Archeology, and Ecology by Steven E. Churchill, Wiley-Blackwell, 2014, pp. ix–x.

Cartmill, M. “Primate Classification and Diversity.” Primate Neuroethology, 2010. Scopus, doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195326598.003.0002. Full Text

Brook, K., and M. Cartmill. “75 years of the annual meetings of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, 1930-2004.” Histories of American Physical Anthropology in the Twentieth Century, edited by M. A. Little and K. A. R. Kennedy, Lexington Books, 2010, pp. 221–32.

Daubechies, I. Foreword. Vol. 9781400827268, 2009, pp. xv–xvi. Scopus, doi:10.1515/9781400827268.xv. Full Text

Brown, K., and M. Cartmill. “Series introduction.” Fundamentals of Forensic Anthropology by L. Klepinger, John Wiley and Sons, 2006, pp. xiii–xiv.

Cartmill, M., et al. “Primate gaits and primate origins.” Primate Origins: Adaptations and Evolution, Springer, 2006, pp. 403–36.

Cartmill, M. “Is there a biological basis for morality?The Nature of Difference: Science, Society, and Human Biology, edited by G. T. H. Ellison and A. Goodman, Taylor & Francis, 2006, pp. 3–16.

Cartmill, M. “Charles Oxnard: an appreciation.” Shaping Primate Evolution, edited by F. Anapol et al., Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp. 1–7.

Cartmill, M. “Taxonomic revolutions and the animal-human boundary.” Studying Human Origins: Disciplinary History and Epistemology, edited by R. Corbey and W. Roebroeks, Amsterdam University Press, 2001, pp. 97–106.


Grochowski, Colleen O’Connor, et al. “Anxiety in first year medical students taking gross anatomy.Clinical Anatomy (New York, N.Y.), vol. 27, no. 6, Sept. 2014, pp. 835–38. Epmc, doi:10.1002/ca.22398. Full Text

Cartmill, Matt. “The end of higher taxa: a reply to Tattersall.Evolutionary Anthropology, vol. 22, no. 4, July 2013, pp. 172–73. Epmc, doi:10.1002/evan.21346. Full Text

Cartmill, Matt. “Primate origins, human origins, and the end of higher taxa.Evolutionary Anthropology, vol. 21, no. 6, Nov. 2012, pp. 208–20. Epmc, doi:10.1002/evan.21324. Full Text

Cartmill, M. “The human (R)evolution(s).” Evolutionary Anthropology, vol. 19, no. 3, May 2010, pp. 89–91. Scopus, doi:10.1002/evan.20260. Full Text

Lemelin, Pierre, and Matt Cartmill. “The effect of substrate size on the locomotion and gait patterns of the kinkajou (Potos flavus).Journal of Experimental Zoology. Part A, Ecological Genetics and Physiology, vol. 313, no. 3, Mar. 2010, pp. 157–68. Epmc, doi:10.1002/jez.591. Full Text

Cartmill, Matt. “Book reviews: Bigfoot Exposed: An Anthropologist Examines America's Enduring LegendBook reviews: Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 135, no. 1, Wiley, Jan. 2008, pp. 117–18. Crossref, doi:10.1002/ajpa.20691. Full Text

Cartmill, M., et al. Primate gaits and primate origins. Dec. 2007, pp. 403–35. Scopus, doi:10.1007/978-0-387-33507-0_12. Full Text

Cartmill, Matt, et al. “Understanding the adaptive value of diagonal-sequence gaits in primates: a comment on Shapiro and Raichlen, 2005.American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 133, no. 2, June 2007, pp. 822–25. Epmc, doi:10.1002/ajpa.20589. Full Text

Schmitt, Daniel, et al. “Adaptive value of ambling gaits in primates and other mammals.The Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 209, no. Pt 11, June 2006, pp. 2042–49. Epmc, doi:10.1242/jeb.02235. Full Text

Schmitt, D., et al. “Ambling: An unusual intermediate speed gait in primates and other mammals.” Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology a Molecular & Integrative Physiology, vol. 143, no. 4, ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC, Apr. 2006, pp. S90–S90.


Cartmill, Matt, and Kaye Brown. “Vertebral body area profiles in primates and other mammals.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 153, WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2014, pp. 91–91.

Cartmill, Matt, and Kaye Brown. “Human fat deposition and upright posture.American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 147, WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2012, pp. 113–113.

Tomcej, Veronica, et al. “Bipod lengths during quadrupedal walking in the kinkajou (Potos flavus): another step toward understanding the evolution of diagonal-sequence gaits.American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 147, WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2012, pp. 287–287.

Cartmill, Matt, and Kaye Brown. “Being human means that "being human" means whatever we say it means.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 144, WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2011, pp. 106–106.

Cartmill, M., et al. “Gait patterns in primates and marsupials: similarities and differences.American Journal of Physical Anthropology, WILEY-LISS, 2008, pp. 77–77.

Cartmill, M. “Turtles all the way down: the Atlas of Creation.” Reports of the National Center for Science Education, vol. 31, no. 2, 2011, pp. 1–10.

Kirk, E. Christopher, et al. “Comment on "Grasping primate origins".Science (New York, N.Y.), vol. 300, no. 5620, May 2003, p. 741. Epmc, doi:10.1126/science.1081587. Full Text

Cartmill, M. “Replies to correspondents.” Phi Beta Kappa Key Reporter, vol. 66, no. 2, 2001, pp. 11–11.

Cartmill, M. “Understanding the evil that men do.” Chronicle of Higher Education, vol. 2, June 2000, pp. B4–6.

Cartmill, M. “The ascent of words.” Pomona College Magazine, no. Summer, 2000, pp. 14–18.

Cartmill, M. “A view on the science: physical anthropology at the millennium.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 113, Wiley: 12 months, 2000, pp. 145–49.

Cartmill, M., and I. Lofstrom. “Introduction to the symposium "Animal Consciousness: Historical, Theoretical, and Empirical Perspectives".” American Zoologist, vol. 40, 2000, pp. 833–34.

Cartmill, M. “Language and human evolution.” Anthroquest, vol. 8, 1999, pp. 1–4.

Cartmill, M. “Polly want a big hypoglossal nerve? (Reply to R. A. Koster).” Discover, Dec. 1998.

Cartmill, M. “The gift of gab.” Discover, Nov. 1998, pp. 56–64.