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

Exploring For Paleogene Primates In Bolivia awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1992 to 1993

Paleontology And Geochronology Of The Middle Micene Of Sou awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1992 to 1993

Paleontology And Geochronology Of The Middle Miocene Of So awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1991 to 1993

Paleontology And Geochronology Of The Middle Miocene Of awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1990 to 1992

Dental Sexual Di-Morphism In The Catarrhine Primates awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1989 to 1991

Biochronology And Geochronology Of Friasian (Middle Miocen awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1989 to 1990

Collaborative Research: Biochronology And Geochronology Of awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1987 to 1989

Collaborative Research On Sexual Dimorphism In The Definit awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1986

Collaborative Research On Sexual Dimorphism In The Dentit awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1984 to 1986

Pages

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.

Meldrum, D. J., and R. F. Kay. “The postcranial skeleton of Miocene platyrrhine primates.” Vertebrate Paleontology in the Neotropics, edited by R. F. Kay et al., Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997, pp. 459–72.

Madden, R. H., et al. “The Laventan Stage and Laventan Age: New chronostratigraphic and geochronologic units for the Miocene of South America.” Vertebrate Paleontology in the Neotropics., edited by R. F. Kay et al., Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997, pp. 499–519.

Kay, R. F., and P. Ungar. “Dental evidence for diet in some Miocene catarrhines with comments on the effects of phylogeny on the interpretation of adaptation.” Function, Phylogeny and Fossils: Miocene Hominoids and Great Ape and Human Origins, edited by D. R. Begun et al., Plenum Press, 1997, pp. 131–51.

Kay, R. F., and D. J. Meldrum. “A new small platyrrhine from the Miocene of Colombia and the phyletic position of Callitrichinae.” Vertebrate Paleontology in the Neotropics, edited by R. F. Kay et al., Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997, pp. 435–58.

Kay, R. F., and R. H. Madden. “Paleogeography and paleoecology.” Mammalian Evolution in the Neotropics, edited by R. F. Kay et al., Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997, pp. 520–50.

Fleagle, J. G., et al. “Fossil New World monkeys.” Mammalian Evolution in the Neotropics, edited by R. F. Kay et al., Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997, pp. 473–95.

Fleagle, J. G., and R. F. Kay. “Platyrrhines, catarrhines and the fossil record.” New World Primates: Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, edited by W. G. Kinzey, Aldine, 1997, pp. 3–24.

Kay, R. F., and B. A. Williams. “Dental evidence for anthropoid origins..” Anthropoid Origins: The Fossil Evidence, edited by J. G. Fleagle and R. F. Kay, Plenum Press, 1994, pp. 361–446.

Pages

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

Perry, Jonathan M. G., et al. “Oldest known cranium of a juvenile New World monkey (Early Miocene, Patagonia, Argentina): implications for the taxonomy and the molar eruption pattern of early platyrrhines..” Journal of Human Evolution, vol. 74, Sept. 2014, pp. 67–81. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2014.03.009. Full Text Open Access Copy

Fernicola, J. C., et al. “Fossil localities of the Santa Cruz Formation (Early Miocene, Patagonia, Argentina) prospected by Carlos Ameghino in 1887 revisited and the location of the Notohippidian.” Journal of South American Earth Sciences, vol. 52, Jan. 2014, pp. 94–107. Scopus, doi:10.1016/j.jsames.2014.02.002. Full Text Open Access Copy

Patnaik, R., et al. “Additional Vertebrate Remains from the Early Miocene of Kutch, Gujarat.” Special Publication of the Paleontological Society of India, vol. 5, 2014, pp. 335–51. Open Access Copy

Malinzak, Michael D., et al. “Locomotor head movements and semicircular canal morphology in primates..” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, vol. 109, no. 44, Oct. 2012, pp. 17914–19. Pubmed, doi:10.1073/pnas.1206139109. Full Text Open Access Copy

Kay, Richard F. “Evidence for an Asian origin of stem anthropoids..” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 109, no. 26, June 2012, pp. 10132–33. Epmc, doi:10.1073/pnas.1207933109. Full Text Open Access Copy

Wilson, L. A. B., et al. “Testing a developmental model in the fossil record: Molar proportions in South American ungulates.” Paleobiology, vol. 38, no. 2, Mar. 2012, pp. 308–21. Scopus, doi:10.1666/11001.1. Full Text Open Access Copy

Pages

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.

Malinzak, Michael, et al. “Semicircular canal orthogonality, not radius, best predicts mean speed of locomotor head rotation: a new hypothesis with implications for reconstructing behaviors in extinct species..” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 144, WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2011, pp. 204–204.

Kay, R. F., and K. L. Allen. “Dietary quality and brain size in platyrrhines: support for the "Expensive Tissue Hypothesis"..” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, WILEY-LISS, 2009, pp. 163–163.

Krueger, K. L., et al. “Comparisons of dental microwear texture attributes between facets in three primate taxa.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, WILEY-LISS, 2008, pp. 135–135.

Malinzak, M., et al. “Characterization of primate head accelerations during locomotion: A novel application of 3D motion analysis with comparative implications..” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, WILEY-LISS, 2008, pp. 147–48.

Teaford, M. F., et al. “Low magnification dental microwear: The problem of postmortem artifacts.” Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, vol. 28, 2008.

Perry, J. M. G., et al. “First Cranial Material of a Juvenile Monkey from the Tertiary of South America: Cranial Anatomy and Dental Eruption Sequence.” Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, vol. 28, 2008.

Kay, R. F., and E. C. Kirk. “New data on encephalization in Miocene New World monkeys: implications for anthropoid brain evolution.” Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, vol. 28, 2008.

Kay, R. F., et al. “Paranasal pneumatization in the early Miocene platyrrhine Homunculus patagonicus.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, WILEY-LISS, 2006, pp. 112–112.

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