How did our ancestors make the transition from non-linguistic, non-symbolic creatures to the unique, extraordinary species human beings are today? Click here and listen to Dr. Tattersall talk about his field work in Madagascar, observing lemurs for clues to the development of human cognition.
In addition to studying lemurs’ social groups and behaviors, Dr. Tattersall searches for fossils of human ancestors. His research interests include human evolution, particularly the recognition of species in the human fossil record and the determination of their relationships, as well as integration of the human fossil record with evolutionary theory.
Dr. Tattersall is the Curator, Division of Anthropology, and Co-Curator, of the Spitzer Hall of Human Origins at the American Museum of Natural History. His work inspired LCF founder Penelope Bodry-Sanders to establish the Lemur Conservation Foundation, and he is a member of the LCF Scientific Advisory Board.
Click AMNH to listen: This AMNH podcast series features Dr. Tattersall discussing his research, spanning more than 50 years and conducted around the world.
He maintains an active interest in the systematics, ecology, and conservation of the lemurs of Madagascar, and is collecting material to update his classic book The Primates of Madagascar, originally published in 1982. In addition to Madagascar, he has conducted fieldwork in the Comoro Islands, Mauritius, Borneo, Nigeria, Niger, Sudan, Yemen, Vietnam, Surinam, French Guiana, Reunion, and the United States. His other books include The Monkey in the Mirror: Essays on the Science of What Makes Us Human (Harcourt, 2002), Extinct Humans (Westview Press, 2000, with Jeffrey Schwartz), Becoming Human: Evolution and Human Uniqueness (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1998), The Last Neanderthal: The Rise, Success, and Mysterious Extinction of Our Closest Human Relative (MacMillan, 1995); and most recently (with Hall of Human Origins co-Curator Rob DeSalle) Human Origins: What Bones and Genomes Tell Us About Ourselves (Texas A&M University Press, 2007), intended as a companion volume to the Hall.
Dr. Tattersall is an adjunct professor in Columbia University’s Department of Anthropology, as well as at City University of New York. He received his Ph.D. in geology and geophysics from Yale University in 1971.