- Yale University, Ph.D., 1971
- Yale University, M.Phil, 1970
- Cambridge University, M.A., 1970
- Cambridge University, B.A., 1967
Ian Tattersall currently maintains an active research interest in species variety and higher-taxa relationships within both the hominid and lemuriform primate groups. He finds it curious that he is considered an extreme splitter in the hominid domain and an enthusiastic lumper in the lemur one, despite applying pretty consistent standards across the board. Over the last several years his research interests have been trending increasingly toward the question of how and when Homo sapiens became the extraordinary cognitive entity it is, and to developing a framework for understanding how a non-linguistic, non-symbolic ancestor can have given rise to a symbolic and linguistic descendant: a matter broached in his recent (2012) book Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins. He is also exploring the reasons behind the extraordinarily fast evolution of the hominids over the Pleistocene: no other species of any organism is anywhere near as different morphologically (and presumptively behaviorally) from its own ancestors living two million years ago than is Homo sapiens. 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.