Richard Frederick Kay

Richard Frederick Kay

Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology

External address: 
0013 Biological Sciences Building, 130 Science Drive, Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: 
Duke Box 90383, Durham, NC 27708-0383
Phone: 
(919) 684-2143

Overview

I have two areas of research:1) the evolution of primates in South America; and 2) the use of primate anatomy to reconstruct the phylogenetic history and adapations of living and extinct primates, especially Anthropoidea.

1) Evolution of primates and mammalian faunal evolution, especially in South America. For the past 30 years, I have been engaged in research in Argentina, Bolivia The Dominican Republic, Peru, and Colombia with three objectives:a) to reconstruct the evolutionary history and adaptive patterns of South America primates and other mammals; b) to establish a more precise geologic chronology for the mammalian faunas between the late Eocene and middle Miocene (between about 36 and about 15 million years ago); and c) to use anatomy and niche structure of modern mammals as a means to reconstruct the evolution of mammalian niche structure in the Neotropics.

2) Primate Anatomy. I am working to reconstruct the phylogeny of primates based (principally) on anatomical evidence; and to infer the adaptations of extinct primates based mainly on cranial and dental evidence.

Field activities
Current fieldwork is focused on the study of terrestrial biotic change in Patagonia through the 'mid-Miocene Climate Optimum' when global climate was moderate and the subtropical zone, with primates and other typically tropical vertebrates, extended their ranges up to 55 degrees of South latitude.

In this collaborative research undertaking with colleagues at University of Washington and Boise State University, the geochronology of the Santa Cruz Formation at in extreme southern Argentina is being refined using radiometric dating. Stratigraphically-controlled collections have been made of vertebrates and plant macro- and microfossils. Climate change and its impact on the biota is assessed 1) using biogeochemical analysis of stable isotopes in fossil mammalian tooth enamel; 2) by documenting changes in mammalian community structure (richness, origination and extinction rates, and ecological morphology); and 3) by documenting changes in vegetation and floral composition through the study of phytoliths. These three independent lines of evidence in a refined geochronologic framework will then be compared with similar evidence from continental sequences in the Northern Hemisphere and oceanic climatic records to improve our understanding of the timing and character of climatic change in continental high latitudes during this temporal interval.

A second field project project in its early stages is the study of the fossil vertebrates of the Amazon Basin. The latter is a collaborative effort of biologists and geologists across schools at Duke (Nicholas School) and among six North American universities. My role is to direct the vertebrate paleontology component of this project in Brazil and Amazonian Peru. The hope is to recover primates from the Oligocene through Early Miocene. New material will shed light on the phylogenetic status of African Paleogene anthropoids, one of which may be the platyrrhine sister-taxon. Also, new remains of fossil primates will help to refine hypotheses about the origins of the modern families and subfamilies of platyrrhines, all of which trace back to an Early Miocene (17-21 Ma) common ancestor. Finally, new fossil primates may further constrain the time of entry of platyrrhines into South America.

Degrees & Credentials

  • Ph.D., Yale University 1973

  • M.Phil., Yale University 1971

  • B.S., University of Michigan at Ann Arbor 1969

Selected Grants

Recovering Paleogene and early Neogene Primates from Tropical South America awarded by (Principal Investigator). 2019 to 2021

FESD Type I: Dynamics of Mountains, Landscapes and Climate Biodiversity Amazon/Andean Forest awarded by National Science Foundation (Co-Principal Investigator). 2013 to 2020

Fossil Mammals and the Waning of the Mid-Miocene Climate Optimum in Patagonia awarded by (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2019

Collaborative Research: Calibrating Mid-Miocene Greenhouse Climate and Ecology in a Key High Southern Latitude Locale awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2014 to 2017

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Brain Size and Shape in Early Anthropoids awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2012 to 2015

RAPID: Recovery of Miocene Fossil Primates and Other Vertebrates along the Rio Santa Cruz, Argentina awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2013 to 2014

Paleontological Investigations to Recover Fossil Monkeys From the Middle Cenozoic awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2009 to 2013

Pages

Ross, Callum, and Richard F. Kay. Anthropoid Origins. Springer Science & Business Media, 2004.

Ross, C. F., and R. F. Kay. Anthropoid Origins: New Visions. Kluwer/Plenum Publishers, 2004.

Plavcan, J. M., et al. Reconstructing Behavior in the Primate Fossil Record. Kluwer/Plenum Publishers, 2001.

Kay, R. F., et al. Vertebrate Paleontology in the Neotropics.. Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997.

Fleagle, J. G., and R. F. Kay. Anthropoid Origins: The Fossil Evidence. Plenum Press, 1994.

Kay, R. F. “Much hype and many errors.” Science, vol. 21, 2009, pp. 1074–75.

Kay, Richard F. “The primate fossil record.” American Journal of Human Biology, vol. 15, no. 6, Wiley, Nov. 2003, pp. 839–40. Crossref, doi:10.1002/ajhb.10209. Full Text

Kay, R. F. “Colobine monkeys. Their ecology, behavior and evolution - Davies,AG, Gates,JF.” Science, vol. 271, no. 5246, AMER ASSOC ADVANCEMENT SCIENCE, 12 Jan. 1996, pp. 156–57.

Kay, R. F. “Primate Evolution, edited by J.G. Else and P.C. Lee.” Quarterly Review of Biology, vol. 62, 1987.

Kay, R. F. “Review of Sexual Dimorphism in Living and Fossil Primates, edited by M. Pickford and B. Chiarelli.” International Journal of Primatology, vol. 8, 1987, pp. 93–95.

Kay, Richard F. “: Analysis of Species-Specific Molar Adaptations in Strepsirhine Primates . Daniel Seligsohn..” American Anthropologist, vol. 81, no. 4, Wiley, Dec. 1979, pp. 970–71. Crossref, doi:10.1525/aa.1979.81.4.02a00730. Full Text

Kay, R. F., and F. E. Grine. “Tooth morphology, wear and diet in australopithecus and paran thropus from Southern Africa.” Evolutionary History of the “Robust” Australopithecines, 2017, pp. 427–47. Scopus, doi:10.4324/9780203792667. Full Text

Kay, R. F., et al. “Pitheciidae and other platyrrhine seed predators.” Evolutionary Biology and Conservation of Titis, Sakis and Uacaris., edited by L. Veiga et al., Cambridge University Press, 2013, pp. 3–12.

Kay, R. F., et al. “A review of the paleoenvironment and paleoecology of the Miocene Santa Cruz Formation.” Early Miocene Paleobiology in Patagonia: High-Latitude Paleocommunities of the Santa Cruz Formation, edited by S. F. Vizcaíno et al., Cambridge University Press, 2012, pp. 331–64.

Kay, R. F., et al. “The paleobiology of Santacrucian primates.” Early Miocene Paleobiology in Patagonia: High-Latitude Paleocommunities of the Santa Cruz Formation, edited by S. F. Vizcaíno et al., Cambridge University Press, 2012, pp. 306–30.

Vizcaíno, S. F., et al. “Background for a paleoecological study of the Santa Cruz Formation (late Early Miocene) on the Atlantic Coast of Patagonia.” Early Miocene Paleobiology in Patagonia: High-Latitude Paleocommunities of the Santa Cruz Formation, edited by S. F. Vizcaíno et al., Cambridge University Press, 2012, pp. 1–22.

Madden, R. H., et al. “Gran Barranca: a twenty-three million year record of Middle-Cenozoic faunal evolution in Patagonia.” The Paleontology of Gran Barranca: Evolution and Environmental Change through the Middle Cenozoic of Patagonia, edited by R. H. Madden et al., Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Ré, G. H., et al. “A geochronology for the Sarmiento Formation at Gran Barranca.” The Paleontology of Gran Barranca: Evolution and Environmental Change through the Middle Cenozoic of Patagonia, edited by R. H. Madden et al., Cambridge University Press, 2010, pp. 46–60.

Madden, R. H., et al. “Gran Barranca: a twenty-three million year record of Middle-Cenozoic faunal evolution in Patagonia.” The Paleontology of Gran Barranca: Evolution and Environmental Change through the Middle Cenozoic of Patagonia, edited by R. H. Madden et al., Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Madden, R. H., et al. “Preface to The Paleontology of Gran Barranca: Evolution and Environmental Change through the Middle Cenozoic of Patagonia.” The Paleontology of Gran Barranca: Evolution and Environmental Change through the Middle Cenozoic of Patagonia, edited by R. H. Madden et al., Cambridge University Press, 2010, pp. ix–x.

Kay, R. F. “A New Primate from the Early Miocene of Gran Barranca, Chubut Province, Argentina: Paleoecological Implications.” The Paleontology of Gran Barranca: Evolution and Environmental Change through the Middle Cenozoic of Patagonia, edited by R. H. Madden et al., Cambridge University Press, 2010, pp. 220–39.

Pages

Kay, Richard F., et al. “Parvimico materdei gen. et sp. nov.: A new platyrrhine from the Early Miocene of the Amazon Basin, Peru..” Journal of Human Evolution, vol. 134, Sept. 2019. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2019.05.016. Full Text

Pampush, James D., et al. “Technical note: Comparing dental topography software using platyrrhine molars..” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 169, no. 1, May 2019, pp. 179–85. Epmc, doi:10.1002/ajpa.23797. Full Text

Spradley, J. P., et al. “Mammalian faunas, ecological indices, and machine-learning regression for the purpose of paleoenvironment reconstruction in the Miocene of South America.” Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, vol. 518, Mar. 2019, pp. 155–71. Scopus, doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2019.01.014. Full Text

Gonzales, Lauren A., et al. “Intraspecific variation in semicircular canal morphology-A missing element in adaptive scenarios?.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 168, no. 1, Jan. 2019, pp. 10–24. Epmc, doi:10.1002/ajpa.23692. Full Text

Kay, R. F. “Leonard B. Radinsky (1937–1985), Radical Biologist.” Journal of Mammalian Evolution, Jan. 2019. Scopus, doi:10.1007/s10914-019-09479-4. Full Text

Bhandari, Ansuya, et al. “Correction: First record of the Miocene hominoid Sivapithecus from Kutch, Gujarat state, western India..” Plos One, vol. 14, no. 5, Jan. 2019. Epmc, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0217960. Full Text

Pampush, J. D., et al. “Adaptive wear-based changes in dental topography associated with atelid (Mammalia: Primates) diets.” Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, vol. 124, no. 4, Aug. 2018, pp. 584–606. Scopus, doi:10.1093/biolinnean/bly069. Full Text Open Access Copy

Kay, Richard F. “100 years of primate paleontology..” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 165, no. 4, Apr. 2018, pp. 652–76. Epmc, doi:10.1002/ajpa.23429. Full Text Open Access Copy

Bhandari, Ansuya, et al. “First record of the Miocene hominoid Sivapithecus from Kutch, Gujarat state, western India..” Plos One, vol. 13, no. 11, Jan. 2018. Epmc, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0206314. Full Text

Spradley, Jackson P., et al. “Smooth operator: The effects of different 3D mesh retriangulation protocols on the computation of Dirichlet normal energy..” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 163, no. 1, May 2017, pp. 94–109. Epmc, doi:10.1002/ajpa.23188. Full Text Open Access Copy

Pages

Morse, Paul E., et al. “Junk DNE: How Surface Simplification and Scanning Resolution Affect Measures of Dental Crown Sharpness.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 168, WILEY, 2019, pp. 169–169.

Lundeen, Ingrid K., and Richard F. Kay. “Olfactory system anatomy in Homunculus and the ecological importance of olfactory cues among stem platyrrhines.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 168, WILEY, 2019, pp. 148–49.

Pampush, James D., et al. “Dental Topography and Food Processing in Wild-Caught Costa Rican Alouatta.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 165, WILEY, 2018, pp. 198–198.

Gonzales, Lauren A., et al. “New Early Miocene primate bearing faunal assemblage from the Alto Madre de Dios, Peru.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 165, WILEY, 2018, pp. 101–02.

Pampush, James D., et al. “Platyrrhine dynamic dental topography: implications for secondary dental morphology in brachydont, long-lived taxa.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 162, WILEY, 2017, pp. 308–09.

Kay, Richard F., and Blythe A. Williams. “Are there any African Platyrrhines?.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 162, WILEY, 2017, pp. 239–40.

Pampush, James D., et al. “Quantitative Occlusal Surface Complexity Metrics and Dental Wear in Alouatta palliata.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 159, WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2016, pp. 247–247.

Spradley, Jackson P., et al. “Environmental Variation Explains Mammalian Niche Structure in Central and South America.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 159, WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2016, pp. 299–299.

Gonzales, Lauren A., et al. “The influence of brain size on canal radius of curvature.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 159, WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2016, pp. 157–58.

Gonzales, Lauren A., et al. “Intraspecific Semicircular Canal Variance-A Missing Element in Adaptive Scenarios?.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 156, WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2015, pp. 149–50.

Pages

Simons, Elwyn L., et al. “Outrage at high price paid for a fossil..” Nature, vol. 460, no. 7254, July 2009. Epmc, doi:10.1038/460456a. Full Text

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