Tattersall, Ian main content.

Ian Tattersall

Ian Tattersall photo

Curator Emeritus of Human Origins, Division of Anthropology
Professor Emeritus, Richard Gilder Graduate School

Curriculum Vitae (short version)


  • Yale University, Ph.D., 1971
  • Yale University, M.Phil, 1970
  • Cambridge University, M.A., 1970
  • Cambridge University, B.A., 1967

Research Interests

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.


(selected most significant recent publications)

Tattersall, I. 2012. Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 266 pp.

DeSalle, R. and I. Tattersall. 2012. The Brain: Big Bangs, Behaviors, and Beliefs. New Haven CT: Yale University Press. 336 pp. (R. DeSalle and I. Tattersall).

Tattersall, I. 2011. Before the Neanderthals: Hominid Evolution in Middle Pleistocene Europe. In: S. Condemi and G.-C. Weninger (eds), Continuity and Discontinuity in the Peopling of Europe: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Neanderthal Study. Heidelberg: Springer, pp. 47-53.

Tattersall, I. and R. DeSalle. 2011. Race? Debunking a Scientific Myth. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 226 pp.

Tattersall, I. 2010. Paleontology: A Brief History of Life. Consohocken, PA: Templeton Foundation Press, 228 pp.

Tattersall, I. and J. H. Schwartz. 2009. Evolution of the genus Homo. Annual Reviews of Earth and Planetary Sciences 37: 67-92.

Tattersall, I. 2008. An evolutionary framework for the acquisition of symbolic cognition by Homo sapiens. Comp. Cogn. Behav. Revs 3: 99-114.

Tattersall, I. 2007. Madagascar’s lemurs: Cryptic diversity or taxonomic inflation? Evolutionary Anthropology 16: 12-23.

Tattersall, I. 2006. The concept of cathemerality: History and definition. Folia Primatol. 77: 7-14.

Schwartz, J. H. and I. Tattersall. 2005. The Human Fossil Record, Volume 4: Craniodental Morphology of Early Hominids (Genera Australopithecus, Paranthropus, Orrorin) and Overview. New York: Wiley-Liss, 561 pp.
Complete List of Ian Tattersall's Publications

Teaching Experience

Faculty Appointments

  • Adjunct Professor, Dept of Anthropology, Columbia University, 1992- present
  • Adjunct Professor, Anthropology Program, CUNY Graduate School and University Center, 1991- present
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, Dept of Anthropology, Columbia University:1979-1980
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Dept of Anthropology, Herbert H. Lehman College, CUNY: 1971-1974
  • Visiting Lecturer, Dept of Anthropology, New School for Social Research: 1971-1972

External Links