Steven E. Churchill

Steven E. Churchill

Professor in the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology

External address: 
Duke University, Evolutionary Anthropology, 130 Science Drive, Room 108, Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: 
Duke Box 90383, Durham, NC 27708-0383
(919) 660-7314


I am a human paleontologist studying morphological and behavioral adaptation in archaic and modern humans of the Middle and Late Pleistocene. Through comparative functional-morphological analysis of human fossil remains, coupled with investigation of the archeological record of prehistoric human behavior, my students and I conduct research in the following inter-related areas:

1) The ecology, energetics and adaptive strategies of premodern members of the genus Homo (especially the Neandertals [Homo neanderthalensis] of Europe and western Asia and Middle Pleistocene archaic humans of Africa [variously attributed to H. heidelbergensis, H. rhodesiensis or H. helmei] ) and early members of our own species [H. sapiens] in Africa, the Near East and Europe.

2) The evolution of human subsistence strategies across the Middle and Late Pleistocene, with an emphasis on the nature of the hunting methods employed by various groups.

3) The evolution of subsistence technology, especially the origins of true long-range projectile weaponry.

4) The community ecology of humans and large-bodied carnivores in Pleistocene Europe and Africa.

In addition to this basic research, our team is also actively engaged in fieldwork in southern Africa, with the goal of improving our understanding of the morphology and behavior of Middle Stone Age-associated early modern humans and their immediate ancestors (African Middle Pleistocene archaic humans).

Degrees & Credentials

  • Ph.D., University of New Mexico 1994

  • M.A., University of New Mexico 1989

  • B.S., Virginia Polytech Institute and State University 1981

DeSilva, JM, Holt, KG, Churchill, SE, Carlson, KJ, Walker, CS, Zipfel, B, and Berger, LR. "The Lower Limb and Mechanics of Walking in Australopithecus sediba." SCIENCE 340.6129 (April 12, 2013). Full Text

Churchill, SE, Holliday, TW, Carlson, KJ, Jashashvili, T, Macias, ME, Mathews, S, Sparling, TL, Schmid, P, de Ruiter, DJ, and Berger, LR. "The upper limb of Australopithecus sediba." Science 340.6129 (April 12, 2013): 1233477-. Full Text

Schmid, P, Churchill, SE, Nalla, S, Weissen, E, Carlson, KJ, de Ruiter, DJ, and Berger, LR. "Mosaic Morphology in the Thorax of Australopithecus sediba." SCIENCE 340.6129 (April 12, 2013). Full Text

Williams, SA, Ostrofsky, KR, Frater, N, Churchill, SE, Schmid, P, and Berger, LR. "The Vertebral Column of Australopithecus sediba." SCIENCE 340.6129 (April 12, 2013). Full Text

Vincenzo, FD, Churchill, SE, and Manzi, G. "The Vindija Neanderthal scapular glenoid fossa: Comparative shape analysis suggests evo-devo changes among Neanderthals." Journal of Human Evolution 62.2 (2012): 274-285. Full Text

Pickering, R, Dirks, PHGM, Jinnah, Z, de Ruiter, DJ, Churchill, SE, Herries, AIR, Woodhead, JD, Hellstrom, JC, and Berger, LR. "Australopithecus sediba at 1.977 Ma and Implications for the Origins of the Genus Homo." SCIENCE 333.6048 (September 9, 2011): 1421-1423. Full Text

de Ruiter, DJ, Churchill, SE, Brophy, JK, and Berger, LR. "Regional survey for Middle Stone Age deposits of the Virginia-Theunissen area of the Free State." Navorsinge van die Nasionale Museum Bloemfontein 27 (2011): 1-20. (Academic Article)

Kibii, JM, Churchill, SE, Schmid, P, Carlson, KJ, Reed, ND, Ruiter, DJD, and Berger, LR. "A partial pelvis of Australopithecus sediba." Science 333.6048 (2011): 1407-1411. Full Text

Kivell, TL, Kibii, JM, Churchill, SE, Schmid, P, and Berger, LR. "Australopithecus sediba hand demonstrates mosaic evolution of locomotor and manipulative abilities." Science 333.6048 (2011): 1411-1417. Full Text

Zipfel, B, DeSilva, JM, Kidd, RS, Carlson, KJ, Churchill, SE, and Berger, LR. "The foot and ankle of Australopithecus sediba." Science 333.6048 (2011): 1417-1420. Full Text


Reed, ND, and Churchill, SE. "Acetabulocristal buttressing in hominins." 2012.

Kivell, TL, Kibii, JM, Churchill, SE, and Berger, LR. "Evolution of the hominin hand: old and new evidence from the Plio-Pleistocene." 2011.

de Ruiter, DJ, Carlson, K, Brophy, J, Carlson, KJ, Churchill, SE, Schmid, P, Kibii, JM, and Berger, LR. "Craniodental remains of Australopithecus sediba from Malapa, South Africa." 2011.

Miller, SF, Yokley, TR, Churchill, SE, Franciscus, RG, Hublin, JJ, and Eaves-Johnson, KL. "A new technique for reconstructing the vocal anatomy of fossil humans." 2003.

Yokley, TR, and Churchill, SE. "Archaic and modern human distal humeral morphology." 2002.