David Pilbeam

David Pilbeam (born 21 November 1940 in Brighton, Sussex, England)[1] is the Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University[2] 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.[a][o]

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.[c][d][e][f][g][h]

In 2005, in honour of his 65th birthday, Pilbeams' students, colleagues, collaborators and friends assembled a collection to honour his work.[3] Pilbeam himself later contributed to a paper honouring Ofer Bar-Yosef.[4]

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.[5]

Pilbeam describes himself as "interested in a wide range of topics involving human and primate evolution".[6] 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.[i][k][l] [m][n] 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.[j][6]




David Pilbeam has written and contributed to numerous papers, the bulk of which are listed below:

a. ^ Pilbeam, D (28 September 1968), "The earliest hominids", Nature, 219 (5161): 1335–8, doi:10.1038/2191335a0, ISSN 0028-0836, PMID 5678014  (see 1987 reprint)[o]

  • Pilbeam, D (June 1972), "Adaptive response of hominids to their environment as ascertained by fossil evidence", Social biology, 19 (2): 115–27, doi:10.1080/19485565.1972.9987977, PMID 4629892 
  • Snyder, D.R. & Pilbeam, D.R (1973), "The need for field-laboratory facilities for primate research", Journal of medical primatology, 2 (5): 257–66, PMID 4207403 
  • Pilbeam, D. & Gould, S.J (6 December 1974), "Size and scaling in human evolution", Science, 186 (4167): 892–901, doi:10.1126/science.186.4167.892, PMID 4219964 
  • Bell E.A.; Qureshi M.Y.; Charlwood B.V.; Pilbeam D.J.; Evans C.S (March 1976), "The variability of free amino acids and related compounds in legume seeds", Basic life sciences, 8: 397–412, doi:10.1007/978-1-4684-2886-5_35, PMID 1032111 
  • David Pilbeam; John Barry; Grant E. Meyer; S. M. Ibrahim Shah; M. H. L. Pickford; W. W. Bishop; Herbert Thomas & Louis L. Jacobs (1977), "Geology and palaeontology of Neogene strata of Pakistan", Nature, 270 (5639): 684–689, doi:10.1038/270684a0 
  • Gantt D.G; Pilbeam D; Steward G.P (16 December 1977), "Hominoid enamel prism patterns", Science, 198 (4322): 1155–7, doi:10.1126/science.412252, PMID 412252 
  • Pilbeam D; Meyer G.E; Badgley C; Rose M.D; Pickford M.H; Behrensmeyer A.K; Shah S.M (22–29 December 1977), "New hominoid primates from the Siwaliks of Pakistan and their bearing on hominoid evolution", Nature, 270 (5639): 689–95, doi:10.1038/270689a0, PMID 413057 

c. ^ Pilbeam, D.R.; A.K. Behrensmeyer; J.C. Barry; S.M. Ibrahim Shah, eds. (30 November 1979), "Miocene sediments and faunas of Pakistan" (PDF), Postilla, Peabody Museum of Natural History, 179, ISSN 0079-4295 

d. ^ Pilbeam, D.R.; M.D. Rose; C. Badgley & B. Lipschutz (30 November 1980), "Miocene hominoids from Pakistan" (PDF), Postilla, Peabody Museum of Natural History, 181: 1–94, ISSN 0079-4295 

e. ^ David Pilbeam (21 January 1982), "New hominoid skull material from the Miocene of Pakistan", Nature, 295 (5846): 232–234, doi:10.1038/295232a0, PMID 6799831 

f. ^ Kelley J, Pilbeam D (1986), "Kenyan finds not early Miocene Sivapithecus", Nature, 321 (6069): 475–6, doi:10.1038/321475c0, PMID 3086744 

g. ^ David Pilbeam; Michael D. Rose; John C. Barry; S. M. Ibrahim Shah (15 November 1990), "New Sivapithecus humeri from Pakistan and the relationship of Sivapithecus and Pongo", Nature, 348 (6298): 237–239, doi:10.1038/348237a0, PMID 2234091 

h. ^ Madar SI, Rose MD, Kelley J, MacLatchy L, Pilbeam D (June 2002), "New Sivapithecus postcranial specimens from the Siwaliks of Pakistan", Journal of Human Evolution, 42 (6): 705–52, doi:10.1006/jhev.2002.0554, PMID 12069507 

i. ^ Brunet M, Guy F, Pilbeam D, et al. (11 July 2002), "A new hominid from the Upper Miocene of Chad, Central Africa" (PDF), Nature, 418 (6894): 145–51, doi:10.1038/nature00879, PMID 12110880 

j. ^ Pilbeam, D (May 15, 2004), "The anthropoid postcranial axial skeleton: comments on development, variation, and evolution", Journal of experimental zoology. Part B. Molecular and developmental evolution, 302 (3): 241–267, doi:10.1002/jez.b.22, PMID 15211685 

k. ^ Michel Brunet; Franck Guy; David Pilbeam; Daniel E. Lieberman; Andossa Likius, Hassane; T. Mackaye; Marcia S. Ponce de Leon; Christof P.E. Zollikofer & Patrick Vignaud (7 April 2005), "New material of the earliest hominid from the upper Miocene of Chad" (PDF), Nature, 434 (7034): 752–755, doi:10.1038/nature03392, PMID 15815627, retrieved 1 May 2010 

l. ^ Christof P.E. Zollikofer; Marcia S. Ponce de Leon; Daniel E. Lieberman; Franck Guy; David Pilbeam; Andossa Likius; Hassane, T. Mackaye; Patrick Vignaud & Michel Brunet (7 April 2005), "Virtual cranial reconstruction Sahelanthropus tchadensis" (PDF), Nature, 434 (7034): 755–759, doi:10.1038/nature03397, PMID 15815628, retrieved 1 May 2010 

m. ^ Franck Guy; Daniel E. Lieberman; David Pilbeam; Marcia S. Ponce de Leon; Andossa Likius, Hassane; T. Mackaye; Patrick Vignaud; Christof P.E. Zollikofer & Michel Brunet (27 December 2005), "Morphological affinities of the Sahelanthropus tchadensis (Late Miocene hominid from Chad) cranium", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 102 (52): 18836–18841, doi:10.1073/pnas.0509564102, PMC 1323204Freely accessible, PMID 16380424, retrieved 2 May 2010  PDF fulltext Supporting Tables

n. ^ Guy F, Lieberman D, Pilbeam D, Ponde de Leon M, Likius A, Mackaye H, Vignaud P, Zollikofer C, Brunet M (March 2006), "Morphological affinities of the Sahelanthropus tchadensis cranium: oldest representing of the human family]", Médecine/Sciences, 22 (3): 250–1, doi:10.1051/medsci/2006223250, PMID 16527204 


Pilbeam also authored, co-authored, edited and contributed to (e.g. in forewords) books, with some key publications below.

  • The Ascent of Man: An Introduction to Human Evolution, Macmillan Series in Physical Anthropology, New York: Macmillan, 1972, ISBN 978-0-02-395270-8 
  • Simons, E.L.; Pilbeam, D.R (1978), "Cenozoic Apes", in Maglio, V.J.; Cooke, H.B.S., Evolution of African Mammals, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, pp. 120–146, ISBN 0-674-27075-4 
  • Ward, S. C.; Pilbeam, D (1983), "Maxillofacial morphology of Miocene hominoids from Africa and Indo-Pakistan", in Ciochon, R. L.; Corruccini, R. S, New Interpretations of Ape and Human Ancestry, New York: Plenum Press, pp. 211–238, ISBN 978-0-306-41072-7 

o. ^ Pilbeam, D.R (1987), "The earliest hominids", in Ciochon, Russell L.; Fleagle, John G, Primate Evolution and Human Origins, New York: Aldine de Gruyter, ISBN 0-202-01175-5  (Reprint of 1968 article in Nature).[a]

  • Pilbeam, D.R (1987), "Rethinking human origins", in Ciochon, Russell L.; Fleagle, John G, Primate Evolution and Human Origins, New York: Aldine de Gruyter, ISBN 0-202-01175-5 
  • Harrison, G.A; Tanner, J.M; Pilbeam, D.R & Baker, P.T. (1988), Human Biology: An Introduction to Human Evolution, Variation, Growth, and Adaptability (3rd ed.), Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-854143-0 
  • Jones, Steve; Martin, Robert D.; Pilbeam, David R (Editors). (1994), The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human evolution, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-46786-1 
  • Laura MacLatchy; David Pilbeam (1999), "Renewed research in the Ugandan Early Miocene", in Andrws, P.; Banham, P., Late Cenozoic Environments and Hominid Evolution: a Tribute to Bill Bishop, London: Geological Society, pp. 15–25, ISBN 978-1-86239-036-2, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  • Pilbeam, D.R. & Young, N.M (2001), "Sivapithecus and hominoid evolution: some brief comments", in L de Bonis; G Koufos & P Andrews, Hominoid Evolution and Climatic Change in Europe, Volume Two: Phylogeny of the Neogene Hominoid Primates of Eurasia, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 349–364., ISBN 0-521-66075-0, retrieved 1 May 2010 
  • Pilbeam D.R (2002), "Perspectives on the Miocene Hominoidea", in W. Hartwig, The Primate Fossil Record, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 303–310, ISBN 0-521-66315-6  Book review


  1. Balakrishna, Aditi (4 June 2008). "Portrait: David R. Pilbeam". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  2. Harvard Science directory listing for Pilbeam
  3. Smith, Richard J; Kelley, Jay; Lieberman, Daniel E (2005), Interpreting The Past: Essays On Human, Primate, And Mammal Evolution In Honor Of David Pilbeam, Boston, Mass: Brill Academic Publishers, ISBN 978-0-391-04247-6 1st brief description of book 2nd brief description of book
  4. Lieberman, Daniel E.; Pilbeam, David R. & Wrangham, Richard W (2009), "The Transition from Australopithecus to Homo", in John J. Shea & Daniel E. Lieberman, Transitions in Prehistory: Essays in Honor of Ofer Bar-Yosef (PDF), American School of Prehistoric Research Monograph Series, Oxford, England: Oxbow Books, pp. 1–22, ISBN 978-1-84217-340-4, retrieved 1 May 2010
  5. Balakrishna, Aditi, Portrait: David R. Pilbeam, Harvard Crimson, retrieved 17 July 2010
  6. 1 2 Pilbeam, David, Research interests, Harvard University: Paleoanthropology Laboratory - Anthropology Department, retrieved 1 May 2010
  7. "International Prize". Fondation Fyssen. Retrieved 6 February 2014.

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