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

Collaborative Proposal: Excavation of Underwater Cavern Containing Primates and Archaeological Remains in Hispaniola awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2010 to 2012

Functional Analysis of Primate Semicircular Canal Morphology in Relation to Locomotor Head Accelerations awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2008 to 2010

Doctoral Dissertation Improvement: The Role of Binocular Vision in Primate Evolution awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2005 to 2008

Evaluating the contribution of Late Cretaceous Biogeography to Earliest Cenozoic Biodiversity awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2002 to 2007

Paleontological Investigations to Recover Fossil Monkeys From the Middle Cenozoic awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2001 to 2006

The First Near-Complete Skull of a Late Cretaceous Multituberculate from North America: ... awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2001 to 2005

Collaborative Research: The Impact of Late Eocene/Early Oligocene Climate Change awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2001 to 2004

An environmental scanning electron microscope for DU awarded by National Science Foundation (Co-Principal Investigator). 2001 to 2003

Collaborative Research: Paleonotological Investigations To awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1994 to 2001

Paleontologic Recovery and Reconnaisance at Grant Barranca, Argentina awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1999 to 2000

Pages

Teaford, M., et al. “Molar shape and molar microwear in the Koobi Fora monkeys: ecomorphological implications.” Koobi Fora Research Project, Volume VI, The Fossil Monkeys, edited by N. Jablonski and M. G. Leakey, California Academy of Sciences, 2008, pp. 337–58.

Ross, C. F., and R. F. Kay. “Evolving perspectives on Anthropoidea.” Anthropoid Origins: New Visions, edited by C. F. Ross and R. F. Kay, Kulwer/Plenum, 2004, pp. 3–41.

Ross, C. F., and R. Kay. “Anthropoid Origins: Retrospective and Prospective.” Anthropoid Origins: New Visions, edited by C. F. Ross and R. F. Kay, Kluwer/Plenum Publishing, 2004, pp. 699–737.

Kirk, E. C., and R. F. Kay. “The evolution of high visual acuity in the Anthropoidea.” Anthropoid Origins: New Visions, edited by C. F. Ross and R. F. Kay, Kluwer/Plenum Publishing, 2004, pp. 539–602.

Kay, R. F., et al. “Anthropoid origins: a phylogenetic analysis.” Anthropoid Origins: New Visions, edited by C. F. Ross and R. F. Kay, Kluwer/Plenum, 2004, pp. 91–135.

Kay, R. F., et al. “The adaptations of Branisella boliviana, the earliest South American monkey.” Reconstructing Behavior in the Primate Fossil Record, edited by J. M. Plavcan et al., Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2002, pp. 339–70.

Van Couvering, J. A., and R. F. Kay. “Oligocene.” Encyclopedia of Evolution and Prehistory, 2nd Edition, edited by E. Delson et al., Garland Pub. Co, 2000, pp. 489–90.

Kay, R. F., and J. A. Van Couvering. “Fayum.” Encyclopedia of Evolution and Prehistory, 2nd Edition, edited by E. Delson et al., Garland Pub. Co, 2000, pp. 265–67.

Kay, R. F., and E. Delson. “Oligopithecidae.” Encyclopedia of Evolution and Prehistory, 2nd Edition, edited by E. Delson et al., Garland Pub. Co., 2000, pp. 490–93.

Kay, R. F. “Diet.” Encyclopedia of Evolution and Prehistory, 2nd Edition, edited by E. Delson et al., Garland Pub. Co., 2000, pp. 208–12.

Pages

Pampush, J. D., et al. “Introducing molaR: a New R Package for Quantitative Topographic Analysis of Teeth (and Other Topographic Surfaces).” Journal of Mammalian Evolution, vol. 23, no. 4, Dec. 2016, pp. 397–412. Scopus, doi:10.1007/s10914-016-9326-0. Full Text Open Access Copy

Pampush, James D., et al. “Wear and its effects on dental topography measures in howling monkeys (Alouatta palliata)..” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 161, no. 4, Dec. 2016, pp. 705–21. Epmc, doi:10.1002/ajpa.23077. Full Text Open Access Copy

Fulwood, Ethan L., et al. “Stem members of Platyrrhini are distinct from catarrhines in at least one derived cranial feature..” Journal of Human Evolution, vol. 100, Nov. 2016, pp. 16–24. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2016.08.001. Full Text Open Access Copy

Cuitiño, J. I., et al. “U-Pb geochronology of the Santa Cruz Formation (early Miocene) at the Río Bote and Río Santa Cruz (southernmost Patagonia, Argentina): Implications for the correlation of fossil vertebrate localities.” Journal of South American Earth Sciences, vol. 70, Oct. 2016, pp. 198–210. Scopus, doi:10.1016/j.jsames.2016.05.007. Full Text Open Access Copy

Boyer, Doug M., et al. “Internal carotid arterial canal size and scaling in Euarchonta: Re-assessing implications for arterial patency and phylogenetic relationships in early fossil primates..” Journal of Human Evolution, vol. 97, Aug. 2016, pp. 123–44. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2016.06.002. Full Text Open Access Copy

Spradley, Jackson P., et al. “Dust in the wind: How climate variables and volcanic dust affect rates of tooth wear in Central American howling monkeys..” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 159, no. 2, Feb. 2016, pp. 210–22. Epmc, doi:10.1002/ajpa.22877. Full Text Open Access Copy

Raigemborn, M. S., et al. “Paleoenvironmental reconstruction of the coastal Monte Léon and Santa Cruz formations (Early Miocene) at Rincón del Buque, Southern Patagonia: A revisited locality.” Journal of South American Earth Sciences, vol. 60, July 2015, pp. 31–55. Scopus, doi:10.1016/j.jsames.2015.03.001. Full Text Open Access Copy

Kay, Richard F. “Anthropology. New World monkey origins..” Science (New York, N.Y.), vol. 347, no. 6226, Mar. 2015, pp. 1068–69. Epmc, doi:10.1126/science.aaa9217. Full Text Open Access Copy

Boyer, D. M., et al. “Erratum: The effect of differences in methodology among some recent applications of shearing quotients (American Journal of Physical Anthropology (2015) 156 (166-178)).” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 157, no. 1, Jan. 2015. Scopus, doi:10.1002/ajpa.22746. Full Text Open Access Copy

Kay, Richard F. “Biogeography in deep time - What do phylogenetics, geology, and paleoclimate tell us about early platyrrhine evolution?.” Mol Phylogenet Evol, vol. 82 Pt B, Jan. 2015, pp. 358–74. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2013.12.002. Full Text Open Access Copy

Pages

Spradley, Jackson P., et al. “Environmental Variables Affecting Primate Species Richness in the Neotropics.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 156, WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2015, pp. 294–294.

Spradley, Jackson P., et al. “Environmental stress and molar wear in three populations of mantled howling monkeys (Alouatta palliata).” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 153, WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2014, pp. 244–244.

Winchester, Julia M., et al. “Dental topography of platyrrhines and prosimians: convergence and contrasts..” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 153, no. 1, 2014, pp. 29–44. Epmc, doi:10.1002/ajpa.22398. Full Text

Gonzales, Lauren A., et al. “Semicircular canal morphology as a predictor of platyrrhine locomotor behavior..” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 150, WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2013, pp. 133–133.

Ludeman, Elissa M., et al. “Cochlear labyrinth volume and predicted hearing abilities in Adapis, Necrolemur, Homunculus, and Tremacebus..” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 150, WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2013, pp. 183–84.

Fernicola, J. C., et al. “Localidades fosilíferas de la Formación Santa Cruz (Mioceno Inferior) en el margen meridional del valle del río Santa Cruz, provincia de Santa Cruz, Argentina.” X Congreso Argentino De Paleontología Y Bioestratigrafía Y Vii Congreso Latinoamericano De Paleontología, vol. Actas, 2013.

Allen, Kari L., et al. “Brain size and endocranial morphology of Antillothrix (Holocene, Dominican Republic, Hispaniola).” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 147, WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2012, pp. 82–82.

Cooke, Siobhan B., and Richard F. Kay. “Dental morphology and dietary adaptation in Homunculus patagonicus..” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 147, WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2012, pp. 119–20.

Hunt, Kevin D., and Richard F. Kay. “ORIGIN OF THE GREATER ANTILLEAN PRIMATE FAUNA.” Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, vol. 32, TAYLOR & FRANCIS INC, 2012, pp. 114–114.

Allen, Kari L., and Richard F. Kay. “ENDOCAST SHAPE AND BRAIN PROPORTIONS IN PRIMATES.” Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, vol. 32, TAYLOR & FRANCIS INC, 2012, pp. 55–55.

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