School of Anthropology & Conservation

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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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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

Skinner, M.M. et al. (2015). Human-like hand-use in the hand of Australopithecus africanus. Science [Online] 347:395-399.
Total publications in KAR: 1 [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
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.

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Last Updated: 01/05/2015