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David Pilbeam

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David Pilbeam

Yale University

International Prize

Human Evolution and Migrations

David Pilbeam (born 21 November 1940 in Brighton, Sussex, England) is the Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University and curator of paleoanthropology at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University.



Pilbeam has produced numerous publications related to hominoid evolution since the mid-1960s, with some of his papers reprinted in later books.

In the 1970s, he was a co-discoverer, in the Potwar Plateau of Pakistan, of a nearly complete skull subsequently described as belonging to Sivapithecus indicus, an extinct Late Miocene great ape, on which he published several papers.

In 2005, in honour of his 65th birthday, Pilbeams' students, colleagues, collaborators and friends assembled a collection to honour his work. Pilbeam himself later contributed to a paper honouring Ofer Bar-Yosef.

In the summer of 2007, Pilbeam was appointed interim dean of Harvard College. He oversaw the continuing process of redesigning the undergraduate curriculum, as well as a large increase in financial aid to students and the planning of a housing renewal project. Pilbeam's decision to end reimbursement of social events which provide alcohol was largely unpopular among students.

Pilbeam describes himself as "interested in a wide range of topics involving human and primate evolution". Among his most recent activities has been working with Michel Brunet and colleagues on the description and analysis of the new hominin from Chad, Sahelanthropus tchadensis. He describes his long-term and continuing interests as including "the behavioral reconstruction and phylogenetic relationships of Miocene apes, which broadens to include more theoretical aspects of phylogenetics", and "the analysis of faunal change and its relationship to environmental change" particularly based on an extensive faunal record from the Neogene Siwalik Series of Pakistan. He also describes himself as having recently become interested in evolutionary developmental biology, and particularly in the development and evolution of the anthropoid axial skeleton.


  • International Prize (Fyssen Foundation), 1986
  • Docteur Honoris Causa, Université de Poitiers, 2002
  • Foreign Associate, National Academy of Sciences, 1992–1997
  • Member, National Academy of Sciences (following naturalization), 1997–
  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • References

    David Pilbeam Wikipedia

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