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Blythe A. Williams, Associate Professor of the Practice Emerita

Blythe A. Williams

My research has focused on the evolutionary relationships (phylogenetics) and ecological adaptations of Primates from a paleontological perspective.  I’m also interested in the evolutionary history of human dance.  My current teaching includes Dance Science, Ethics in Evolutionary Anthropology, and Becoming Human.

Contact Info:
Office Location:  0013 Bio Sci Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Email Address: send me a message

Typical Courses Taught:


Ph.D.University of Colorado - Boulder1994
M.A.University of Colorado - Boulder1989
B.A.Hamline University1983

Primate Paleontology & Morphology
Primate Biology
Primate Ecology
Functional Anatomy
Research Interests: Southern African fossil primates; Ecology of living and fossil primates; Evolution of Cenozoic Primates; Functional morphology of dancers and the role of dance in human evolution

Current projects: Comparison of knee strain in ballet and classical Indian (Bharatanatyam) dancers, Ecology of living and fossil primates, Paleontology of Cenozoic primates, Effects of climate change on primate evolution in the Cenozoic

I'm interested in the evolutionary relationships and ecological adaptations of primates, with particular focus on the initial diversification of the order Primates, the origin of the Anthropoidea, and the early hominoid radiation. I am also interested in the role of dance in human evolution.

Areas of Interest:

Ecology of living and fossil primates
Ethical implications of naturalistic and captive primate research
Dance Science
Primate and Human Evolution


Adaptation, Biological • Adaptation, Physiological • Animals • Anthropology, Physical • Biodiversity • Biological Evolution • Body Constitution • Botswana • Circadian Rhythm • Climate • Dance • Dance Science • Diet • Environment • Ethics, Research • Female • Fossils • Geography • Geology • Haplorhini • Human evolution • Humans • Locomotion • Male • Orbit • Papio • Phylogeny • Primate evolution • primate morphology • primate systematics • Primates • Principal Component Analysis • Radiometric Dating • Skull • Texas • Tooth


Teaching undergraduate and graduate courses; Curator of Evolutionary Anthropology Research and Teaching Collections

Representative Publications   (More Publications)   (search)

  1. Kirk, EC; Williams, BA, New adapiform primate of Old World affinities from the Devil's Graveyard Formation of Texas., Journal of Human Evolution, vol. 61 no. 2 (August, 2011), pp. 156-168, ISSN 0047-2484 [S0047248411000832], [doi]  [abs]
  2. Williams, BA; Kay, RF; Kirk, EC; Ross, CF, Darwinius masillae is a strepsirrhine--a reply to Franzen et al. (2009)., Journal of Human Evolution, vol. 59 no. 5 (November, 2010), pp. 567-573, ISSN 0047-2484 [science], [doi]
  3. Williams, BA; Kay, RF; Kirk, EC, New Perspectives on Anthropoid Origins, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, vol. 107 no. 11 (2010), pp. 4794-4804 [full], [doi]  [abs]
  4. Williams, BA; Kirk, EC, New Uintan primates from Texas and their implications for North American patterns of species richness during the Eocene., Journal of Human Evolution, vol. 55 no. 6 (December, 2008), pp. 927-941, ISSN 0047-2484 [18835008], [doi]  [abs]
  5. Bajpai, S; Kay, RF; Williams, BA; Das, DP; Kapur, VV; Tiwari, BN, The oldest Asian record of Anthropoidea., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 105 no. 32 (August, 2008), pp. 11093-11098, ISSN 0027-8424 [doi]  [abs]
  6. Williams, BA, Comparing levels of homoplasy in the primate skeleton., Journal of Human Evolution, vol. 52 no. 5 (May, 2007), pp. 480-489, ISSN 0047-2484 [17391731], [doi]  [abs]
  7. Ross, C; Williams, B; Kay, RF, Phylogenetic analysis of anthropoid relationships., Journal of Human Evolution, vol. 35 no. 3 (September, 1998), pp. 221-306, ISSN 0047-2484 [doi]  [abs]
  8. S├ínchez-Villagra, MR; Williams, BA, Levels of homoplasy in the evolution of the mammalian skeleton, Journal of Mammalian Evolution, vol. 5 no. 2 (January, 1998), pp. 113-126, ISSN 1064-7554 [doi]  [abs]
  9. Kay, R.F., Williams, B.A., Ross, C.R., Takai, M, and Shigehara, N., Anthropoid Origins: a phylogenetic analysis, in Anthropoid Origins: New Visions, edited by C.F. Ross and R.F. Kay (2004), pp. 91-135, Kluwer/Plenum, New York
  10. Bloch, JI; Fisher, DC; Gingerich, PD; Gunnell, GF; Simons, EL; Uhen, MD, Cladistic analysis and anthropoid origins., Science (New York, N.Y.), vol. 278 no. 5346 (December, 1997), pp. 2134-2136, AMER ASSOC ADVANCEMENT SCIENCE, ISSN 0036-8075 [Gateway.cgi], [doi]
  11. Kay, R.F., Williams, B.A., and Anaya, F., The adaptations of Branisella boliviana, the earliest South American monkey, in Reconstructing behavior in the fossil record, edited by M. Plavcan, R. Kay, W. Jungers, and C. van Shaik Schaik (2001), pp. 339-370, Plenum, New York
  12. Kay, RF; Ross, CF; Williams, BA, Rethinking anthropoid origins, Science, vol. 275 no. 5301 (1997), pp. 797-804, ISSN 0036-8075 [9012340]  [abs]
  13. Williams, BA; Kay, RF, The taxon anthropoidea and the crown clade concept, Evolutionary Anthropology, vol. 3 no. 6 (January, 1994), pp. 188-190, WILEY [doi]
  14. Covert, H., and Williams, B.A., Recently recovered North American Eocene omomyids and adapids and their bearing on debates about anthropoid origins, in Anthropoid Origins: the fossil evidence, edited by J. Fleagle and R. Kay (1994), pp. 29-54, Plenum Press, New York
  15. Kay, R.F. and Williams, B.A., Dental evidence for anthropoid origins, in Anthropoid Origins: the fossil evidence, edited by J. Fleagle and R. Kay (1994), pp. 361-446, Plenum Press, New York
Selected Field Work

  1. Paleontological Field Work, 2009 - 2010, Kutch, India    
  2. Paleontological Field Work, 2009, Devil's Graveyard, West Texas    
  3. Paleontological Field Work, 2005, Patagonia, Argentina    
  4. Paleontological Field Work, 1994 - 1995, Ngamiland, Botswana    
  5. Paleontological Field Work, 1992 - 1994, Bolivia    
  6. Paleontological Field Work, 1989, Fayum Region, Egypt    
  7. Paleontological Field Work, 1987 - 1993, Wyoming and Colorado    
Selected Grant Support

  • Exploration for middle Cenozoic primates, Kutch District, Gujarat, western India, L.S.B. Leakey, 22442.      

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