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Bill Sanders

Research Interests

My research interests are primarily concerned with the evolution of Old World Cenozoic mammals, particularly Afro-Arabian afrotheres and catarrhine primates. I have done paleontological and geological fieldwork in Turkey, Uganda, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Egypt, Pakistan, and the western United States, and engaged in specimen-based museum study of fossil and extant mammalian collections in France, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Turkey, and throughout the United States. My professional training was in paleoanthropology at New York University (M. Phil., 1990; Ph.D., 1995), where I studied primate paleobiology and functional morphology under the supervision of Professor Terry Harrison. My dissertation, “Function, Allometry, and Evolution of the Australopithecine Lower Precaudal Spine,” received a Best Dissertation in Science Award from New York University (NYU), for 1995. Since then, the main focus of my research has been on proboscidean evolution and taxonomy, taphonomy of eagle- and chimpanzee-kill assemblages, embrithopod systematics, and evolution and functional morphology of early catarrhine primates. I recently co-edited a comprehensive volume on the fossil record of African mammals, the “Cenozoic Mammals of Africa” (2010, University of California Press), which received a PROSE Award from the American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence, Single Volume Reference in Science, that summarizes much of the work of my career. I also have a scholarly interest in improving conservation and professional standards of methods and materials used in fossil preparation and curation, and have served as the Chair of the Preparators Committee and Chair of the Preparators Grant Committee of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.

My current research includes a collaborative project with Dr. Gregg Gunnell (Duke University) on the behavioral and evolutionary implications of adult male facial ontogeny in Aegyptopithecus zeuxis (Catarrhini, Primates); phylogenetic and taxonomic implications of new fossil palaeoamasids (Embrithopoda, Paenungulata) from Turkey; new fossil moeritheres and barytheres from the Birket Qarun Formation, Egypt (with Dr. Erik Seiffert, Stony Brook University); taxonomy, biogeography, and paleoecology of fossil proboscideans from the Siwalik Sequence, Indo-Pakistan; description and paleoecology of fossil proboscideans from the early Miocene sites of Moroto and Napak; evolution of early Pliocene to middle Pleistocene proboscideans from Ethiopia (from the early hominin-bearing sites of Woranso-Mille and Gona); allometry and functional morphology of the lumbosacral region in the early Miocene hominoid Proconsul (with Prof. Terry Harrison, NYU); and re-interpretation of the fossil assemblage and age of the Paleogene mammal-bearing site of Dur at Talhah, Libya.