School of Anthropology & Conservation

Excellence in diversity Global in reach

Dr Matthew Skinner

Senior Lecturer in Evolutionary Anthropology

Human evolution; dental anthropology; skeletal functional morphology; growth and development of hard tissues


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School Roles and Responsibilities

Academic Head Biological Anthropology

Academic Background

Matthew Skinner is a paleoanthropologist whose research focuses on the analysis of teeth and bones to answer questions about the growth and development, diet, taxonomy and evolutionary history of living and extinct primates, including fossil hominins. Specifically, he is interested in taxonomic diversity and evolutionary history of humans and apes, dental tissue development in the present and past, and form/function relationships in the primate skeleton.

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Berger, L. et al. (2015). Homo naledi, a new species of the genus Homo from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa. eLife [Online]:1-35.
Kierdorf, H. et al. (2015). “Missing perikymata”—fact or fiction? A study on chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus) canines. American Journal of Physical Anthropology [Online] 157:276-283.
Skinner, M. et al. (2015). Enamel thickness trends in Plio-Pleistocene hominin mandibular molars. Journal of Human Evolution [Online] 85:35-45.
Ward, C. et al. (2015). Associated ilium and femur from Koobi Fora, Kenya, and postcranial diversity in early Homo. Journal of Human Evolution [Online] 81:48-67.
Skinner, M. et al. (2015). Human-like hand-use in the hand of Australopithecus africanus. Science [Online] 347:395-399.
Nguyen, N. et al. (2014). Micro-finite element (mu FE) modeling of the siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus) third proximal phalanx: The functional role of curvature and the flexor sheath ridge. Journal of Human Evolution [Online] 67:60-75.
Martinon-Torres, M. et al. (2014). Talonid crests expression at the enamel-dentine junction of hominin lower permanent and deciduous molars. Comptes Rendus Palevol [Online] 13:223-234.
Gross, T. et al. (2014). A CT-image-based framework for the holistic analysis of cortical and trabecular bone morphology. Palaeontologia Electronica [Online] 17:1-13.
Martinez de Pinillos, M. et al. (2014). Trigonid crests expression in Atapuerca-Sima de los Huesos lower molars: Internal and external morphological expression and evolutionary inferences. Comptes Rendus Palevol [Online] 13:205-221.
Crevecoeur, I. et al. (2014). First Early Hominin from Central Africa (Ishango, Democratic Republic of Congo). Plos One [Online] 9:e84652.
Wollny, G. et al. (2013). MIA - A free and open source software for gray scale medical image analysis. Source code for biology and medicine [Online] 8:1-20.
Tsegai, Z. et al. (2013). Trabecular bone structure correlates with hand posture and use in hominoids. Plos One [Online] 8:e78781.
Soressi, M. et al. (2013). Neandertals made the first specialized bone tools in Europe. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America [Online] 110:14186-14190.
Skinner, M. et al. (2013). Microtomographic archive of fossil hominin specimens from Kromdraai B, South Africa. Journal of Human Evolution [Online] 64:434-447.
Moore, N., Skinner, M. and Hublin, J. (2013). Premolar root morphology and metric variation in Pan troglodytes verus. American Journal of Physical Anthropology [Online] 150:632-646.
Smith, T. et al. (2012). Variation in enamel thickness within the genus Homo. Journal of Human Evolution [Online] 62:395-411.
Smith, T. et al. (2012). Enamel thickness in Bornean and Sumatran orangutan dentitions. American Journal of Physical Anthropology [Online] 147:417-426.
Skinner, M., Skinner, M. and Boesch, C. (2012). Developmental defects of the dental crown in chimpanzees from the Tai National Park, Cote D'ivoire: Coronal waisting. American Journal of Physical Anthropology [Online] 149:272-282.
Anemone, R., Skinner, M. and Dirks, W. (2012). Are there two distinct types of hypocone in Eocene primates? The 'pseudohypocone' of notharctines revisited. Palaeontologia Electronica [Online] 15:1-13.
Ortiz, A. et al. (2012). Carabelli's trait revisited: An examination of mesiolingual features at the enamel-dentine junction and enamel surface of Pan and Homo sapiens upper molars. Journal of Human Evolution [Online] 63:586-596.
Kivell, T. et al. (2011). Methodological considerations for analyzing trabecular architecture: an example from the primate hand. Journal of anatomy [Online] 218:209-225.
Bailey, S., Skinner, M. and Hublin, J. (2011). What lies beneath? An evaluation of lower molar trigonid crest patterns based on both dentine and enamel expression. American Journal of Physical Anthropology [Online] 145:505-518.
Lazenby, R. et al. (2011). Scaling VOI size in 3D microCT studies of trabecular bone: a test of the over-sampling hypothesis. American Journal of Physical Anthropology [Online] 144:196-203.
Lazenby, R. et al. (2011). Metacarpal trabecular architecture variation in the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes): evidence for locomotion and tool-use. American Journal of Physical Anthropology [Online] 144:215-225.
Skinner, M. et al. (2010). Brief Communication: Contributions of enamel-dentine junction shape and enamel deposition to primate molar crown complexity. American Journal of Physical Anthropology [Online] 142:157-163.
Skinner, M. and Gunz, P. (2010). The presence of accessory cusps in chimpanzee lower molars is consistent with a patterning cascade model of development. Journal of anatomy [Online] 217:245-253.
Skinner, M., Wood, B. and Hublin, J. (2009). Protostylid expression at the enamel-dentine junction and enamel surface of mandibular molars of Paranthropus robustus and Australopithecus africanus. Journal of Human Evolution [Online] 56:76-85.
Skinner, M. et al. (2009). Discrimination of extant Pan species and subspecies using the enamel-dentine junction morphology of lower molars. American Journal of Physical Anthropology [Online] 140:234-243.
Skinner, M. et al. (2008). Dental trait expression at the enamel-dentine junction of lower molars in extant and fossil hominoids. Journal of Human Evolution [Online] 54:173-186.
Olejniczak, A. et al. (2008). Dental tissue proportions and enamel thickness in Neandertal and modern human molars. Journal of Human Evolution [Online] 55:12-23.
Olejniczak, A. et al. (2008). Three-dimensional molar enamel distribution and thickness in Australopithecus and Paranthropus. Biology Letters [Online] 4:406-410.
Skinner, M. et al. (2008). Enamel-dentine junction (EDJ) morphology distinguishes the lower molars of Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus robustus. Journal of Human Evolution [Online] 55:979-988.
Skinner, M., Gordon, A. and Collard, N. (2006). Mandibular size and shape variation in the hominins at Dmanisi, Republic of Georgia. Journal of Human Evolution [Online] 51:36-49.
Book section
De Vries, D. et al. (2014). Interspecific and intraspecific taxonomic affinity based on lower molar enamel-dentine junction morphology. in: Toussaint, M. ed. The Scladina I-4A Juvenile Neandertal (Andenne, Belgium) Palaeoanthropology and Context. Études et Recherches Archéologiques de l’Université de Liège, pp. 315-324.
Kupczik, K. et al. (2009). Molar crown and root size relationship in anthropoid primates: 14th International Symposium on Dental Morphology, Greifswald. in: Koppe, T., Meyer, G. and Alt, K. W. eds. Comparative Dental Morphology. Karger, pp. 16-22.
Skinner, M. et al. (2009). How many landmarks? Assessing the classification accuracy of Pan lower molars using a geometric morphometric analysis of the occlusal basin as seen at the enamel-dentine junction: 14th International Symposium on Dental Morphology, Greifswald. in: Koppe, T., Meyer, G. and Alt, K. W. eds. Comparative Dental Morphology. Karger, pp. 23-29.
Skinner, M. and Wood, B. (2006). The evolution of modern human life history - A paleontological perspective. in: Hawkes, K. and Paine, R. eds. The Evolution of Modern Human Life History. School of American Research Press, pp. 331-400.
Total publications in KAR: 37 [See all in KAR]


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Teaching interests:
Human and primate evolution, osteology, functional morphology, quantitative methods, digital imaging


  • SE302: Foundations of Biological Anthropology
  • SE533: Project in Anthropological Science
  • SE541: Paleoanthropology
  • SE567: Methodology in Anthropological Science
  • SE570: Current Issues in Evolutionary Anthropology
  • SE856: Advanced Topics in Evolutionary Anthropology
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My current research projects include:

  • GRASP  Evolution of the human hand: Grasping trees and tools (funded by European Research Council Starting Grant 2014-2019) view here
  • Tooth structure in extant and fossil primates:  Examination of the two primary tissues of primate teeth, enamel and dentine to 1) improve our understanding of the processes underlying tooth shape, and 2) use tooth structure to contribute to our understanding of the evolutionary history of humans (including our fossil relatives). This research covers the whole period of human evolution and examines fossils from Africa, Europe and Asia. View here.
  • Developmental stress in chimpanzees: Investigating the prevalence and underlying cause of developmental stress in chimpanzees as manifested in their dental tissues. View here.
  • Fossil hominin and hominoid hand use: Comparative investigation of fossil hominin (australopiths to Neandertals) and Miocene hominoid hand remains using morphometric and micro-CT data. This research aims to shed light on locomotor and tool-use behaviours throughout the evolution of the human lineage. With Tracy Kivell (Kent).
  • Functional signals in trabecular and cortical bone structure: A comparative investigation of internal bony morphology of the primate hand to assess variation in joint loading patterns and how this reflects differences in locomotor and manipulative behaviours. With Tracy Kivell (Kent).

Principal Collaborators:
Jean-Jacques Hublin, Director of the Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Tracy Kivell, School for Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent
Mark F. Skinner, Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University
Philipp Gunz, Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Dieter Pahr, Institute of Lightweight Design and Structural Biomechanics, Vienna University of Technology
Christophe Boesch, Department of Primatology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology Shara Bailey, Department of Anthropology, New York University)

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I can offer supervision of PhD and MA/MSc research within any of my areas of interest – skeletal biology, dental development and morphology, and functional morphology of the postcranial skeleton, including external and internal (using microCT data) bony morphology.

Principal Supervisor

Chris Dunmore "Skeletal form and function of the primate hand"
Collin Nathaniel Moore “Premolar root morphology in extant and fossil apes” (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)

Zewdi Tsegai (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)
Nicholas Stephens (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)

Past Masters students
Robert Martin (2014, UCL Anthropology) – The morphology of the enamel-dentine junction in Neanderthal molars
Hazel Nunn (2014, UCL Anthropology) - Hand proportions and body mass in primates
Emma Bird (2014, UCL Archaeology) - Getting in touch with the hominoid wrist: locomotion, mobility, and trabecular bone structure in the capitate
Sheona Shankland (2014, UCL Archaeology) - The primate wrist: an investigation into the locomotory and manipulatory signals in the trabecular structure of the scaphoid and lunate
Alexandra Foote (2013, UCL Anthropology) - Getting a grip on the past: Trabecular structure in the fifth metacarpal head of extant and fossil hominoids
Caroline Broms (2013, UCL Anthropology) - Getting to the root of the matter: dental development in South African hominins, revisited.
Rebecca Davenport (2013, UCL Anthropology) - Does internal bone structure of the humerus reflect locomotor behavior in extant apes and fossil hominins?
Rizwaan Abbas (2013, UCL Archaeology) - Piltdown Man or Half-Ourang? A geometric Morphometric Analysis of the Piltdown Molars
Megan Arkell (2013, UCL Archaeology) - Dental Morphology in South African hominin upper molars: enamel-dentin junction morphology, discrete traits, and species diversity
Rhianna Drummond-Clarke (2013, UCL Earth Science) – Did Rudapithecus hungaricus play a role in the evolution of African apes?
Dorien de Vries (2012, UCL Archaeology) - Taxonomic assessment of the BH-1 specimen of Mala Balanica, Serbia, based on its lower molar morphology
Charles Clarke (2012, UCL Archaeology) - Analysis of the enamel-dentine junction of eastern and southern African hominins: taxonomic classification of the enigmatic molar from Gondolin, South Africa revisited
Myriam van Walsum (2012, UCL Archaeology) - Protostylid of A. africanus and P. robustus at the enamel-dentine junction
Nick Stephens (2012, UCL Archaeology) - Trabecular bone architecture in the thumb of recent Homo sapiens, Pan, and Late Pleistocene Homo
Zewdi Tsegai (2012, UCL Anthropology) - Does internal bone structure of the hominoid hand reflect locomotor behaviour?

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I am available to provide topical comment or in-depth discussion of topics related to human and primate evolution, the African human fossil record, the function of the human skeleton, and the evolution of teeth.

As part of the Kent 50th Anniversary celebrations I co-ordinated 3D scanning workshops which enabled visitors to the Festival Weekend the opportunity to have their face scanned and to see what they might have looked like as a Neanderthal. This short video, created in collaboration with Inition (London), documents the event.

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School of Anthropology and Conservation, Marlowe Building, The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NR, T: +44 (0)1227 827056

Last Updated: 30/11/2015