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

Berger, LR, de Ruiter, DJ, Churchill, SE, Schmid, P, Carlson, KJ, Dirks, PHGM, and Kibii, JM. "Australopithecus sediba: a new species of Homo-like australopith from South Africa." Science (New York, N.Y.) 328.5975 (April 2010): 195-204. Full Text

Dirks, PHGM, Kibii, JM, Kuhn, BF, Steininger, C, Churchill, SE, Kramers, JD, Pickering, R, Farber, DL, Mériaux, A-S, Herries, AIR, King, GCP, and Berger, LR. "Geological setting and age of Australopithecus sediba from southern Africa." Science (New York, N.Y.) 328.5975 (April 2010): 205-208. Full Text

Lewis, PJ, Johnson, E, Buchanan, B, and Churchill, SE. "The impact of changing grasslands on Late Quaternary bison of the Southern Plains." Quaternary International 217.1-2 (April 2010): 117-130. Full Text

Hartstone-Rose, A, Werdelin, L, De Ruiter, DJ, Berger, LR, and Churchill, SE. "The Plio-Pleistocene ancestor of wild dogs, Lycaon sekowei n. sp." Journal of Paleontology 84.02 (March 2010): 299-308. Full Text

Villotte, S, Churchill, SE, Dutour, OJ, and Henry-Gambier, D. "Subsistence activities and the sexual division of labor in the European Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic: Evidence from upper limb enthesopathies." Journal of Human Evolution 59.1 (2010): 35-43. Full Text

Churchill, SE, Franciscus, RG, McKean-Peraza, HA, Daniel, JA, and Warren, BR. "Shanidar 3 Neandertal rib puncture wound and paleolithic weaponry." J Hum Evol 57.2 (August 2009): 163-178. Full Text

de Ruiter, DJ, Pickering, R, Steininger, CM, Kramers, JD, Hancox, PJ, Churchill, SE, Berger, LR, and Backwell, L. "New Australopithecus robustus fossils and associated U-Pb dates from Cooper's Cave (Gauteng, South Africa)." Journal of Human Evolution 56.5 (May 13, 2009): 497-513. Full Text

Rhodes, JA, and Churchill, SE. "Throwing in the Middle and Upper Paleolithic: inferences from an analysis of humeral retroversion." Journal of Human Evolution 56.1 (2009): 1-10. Full Text

Froehle, AW, and Churchill, SE. "Energetic competition between Neandertals and anatomically modern humans." Paleoanthropology (2009): 96-116. (Academic Article)

Berger, LR, Churchill, SE, Klerk, BD, and Quinn, RL. "Small-bodied humans from Palau, Micronesia." PLoS ONE 3.3 (2008). Full Text Open Access Copy


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.

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

Churchill, SE, Shackelford, LL, Georgi, JN, and Black, MT. "Airflow dynamics in the Neandertal nose." April 1999.