Bio

Bio


Richard G. Klein researches the archeological and fossil evidence for the evolution of human behavior. He has done fieldwork in Spain and especially in South Africa, where he has excavated ancient sites and analyzed the excavated materials since 1969. He has focused on the behavioral changes that allowed anatomically modern Africans to spread to Eurasia about 50,000 years ago, where they swamped or replaced the Neanderthals and other non-modern Eurasians.
After earning his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, Mr. Klein went to the University of Chicago to pursue his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. Following receipt of his doctorate, he taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Northwestern University, the University of Washington, and for 20 years at the University of Chicago. He came to Stanford from Chicago in 1993.
Mr. Klein has served on numerous editorial and advisory boards, he has edited The Journal of Archaeological Science since 1981, and he co-chairs the Grants Committee of the L.S.B. Leakey Foundation. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the National Academy of Sciences.

Academic Appointments


  • Professor, Anthropology
  • Professor, Biology

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations


  • Co-Chair, Leakey Foundation Science and Grants Committee (1995 - Present)
  • Member, American Association of Physical Anthropologists (1966 - Present)
  • Editor, Journal of Archaeological Science (1981 - Present)
  • Member, National Academy of Sciences (2003 - Present)
  • Member, National Academy of Sciences (2003 - Present)
  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1992 - Present)

Professional Education


  • Ph. D., University of Chicago, Anthropology (1966)
  • M. A., University of Chicago, Anthropology (1964)
  • B. A., University of Michgain, Anthropology (1962)

Research & Scholarship

Current Research and Scholarly Interests


My primary interest is in the co-evolution of anatomy and behavior in human evolution. My research is mainly on ancient animal remains as indicators of early human ability to make a living. I have analyzed more than 100 assemblages of animal fossils, primarily from southern African archaeological sites dating between 700,000 years ago and the historic present. I am currently directing excavations at a site 70 km NNW of Cape Town that dates from the Last Interglacial interval, between roughly 115,000 and 70,000 years ago. The animal remains show that the inhabitants exploited coastal resources much less efficiently than people who occupied the same coast during Present Interglacial (Holocene). The change in foraging efficiency probably occurred about 50,000 years ago and it helps explain the simultaneous expansion of anatomically modern humans from Africa to Eurasia, where they replaced the Neanderthals and other non-modern Eurasians.

Teaching

2013-14 Courses


Graduate and Fellowship Programs


  • Biology (School of Humanities and Sciences) (Phd Program)

Publications

Journal Articles


  • The Middle and Later Stone Age faunal remains from Diepkloof Rock Shelter, Western Cape, South Africa JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL SCIENCE Steele, T. E., Klein, R. G. 2013; 40 (9): 3453-3462
  • Archaeological shellfish size and later human evolution in Africa PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Klein, R. G., Steele, T. E. 2013; 110 (27): 10910-10915

    Abstract

    Approximately 50 ka, one or more subgroups of modern humans expanded from Africa to populate the rest of the world. Significant behavioral change accompanied this expansion, and archaeologists commonly seek its roots in the African Middle Stone Age (MSA; ∼200 to ∼50 ka). Easily recognizable art objects and "jewelry" become common only in sites that postdate the MSA in Africa and Eurasia, but some MSA sites contain possible precursors, especially including abstractly incised fragments of ocher and perforated shells interpreted as beads. These proposed art objects have convinced most specialists that MSA people were behaviorally (cognitively) modern, and many argue that population growth explains the appearance of art in the MSA and its post-MSA florescence. The average size of rocky intertidal gastropod species in MSA and later coastal middens allows a test of this idea, because smaller size implies more intense collection, and more intense collection is most readily attributed to growth in the number of human collectors. Here we demonstrate that economically important Cape turban shells and limpets from MSA layers along the south and west coasts of South Africa are consistently and significantly larger than turban shells and limpets in succeeding Later Stone Age (LSA) layers that formed under equivalent environmental conditions. We conclude that whatever cognitive capacity precocious MSA artifacts imply, it was not associated with human population growth. MSA populations remained consistently small by LSA standards, and a substantial increase in population size is obvious only near the MSA/LSA transition, when it is dramatically reflected in the Out-of-Africa expansion.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1304750110

    View details for Web of Science ID 000321978000024

    View details for PubMedID 23776248

  • Stable carbon isotopes and human evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Klein, R. G. 2013; 110 (26): 10470-10472

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1307308110

    View details for PubMedID 23744041

  • An early date for cattle from Namaqualand, South Africa: implications for the origins of herding in southern Africa ANTIQUITY Orton, J., Mitchell, P., Klein, R., Steele, T., Horsburgh, K. A. 2013; 87 (335): 108-120
  • Two Holocene rock shelter deposits from the Knersvlakte, southern Namaqualand, South Africa SOUTHERN AFRICAN HUMANITIES Orton, J., Klein, R. G., MacKay, A., Schwortz, S., Steele, T. E. 2011; 23: 109-150
  • Preface to the special issue-Early-Middle Pleistocene Palaeoenvironment in the Levant JOURNAL OF HUMAN EVOLUTION Klein, R. 2011; 60 (4): 319-319

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jhevol.2011.02.002

    View details for Web of Science ID 000289178700001

    View details for PubMedID 21392633

  • The abundance of eland, buffalo, and wild pigs in Middle and Later Stone Age sites JOURNAL OF HUMAN EVOLUTION Weaver, T. D., Steele, T. E., Klein, R. G. 2011; 60 (3): 309-314

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jhevol.2010.05.003

    View details for Web of Science ID 000288481300004

    View details for PubMedID 20875912

  • HILARY JOHN DEACON 1936-2010 In Memoriam SOUTH AFRICAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL BULLETIN Klein, R. G. 2010; 65 (191): 109-110
  • Comment on the Paleoenvironment of Ardipithecus ramidus SCIENCE Cerling, T. E., Levin, N. E., Quade, J., Wynn, J. G., Fox, D. L., Kingston, J. D., Klein, R. G., Brown, F. H. 2010; 328 (5982)

    Abstract

    White and colleagues (Research Articles, 2 October 2009, pp. 65-67 and www.sciencemag.org/ardipithecus) characterized the paleoenvironment of Ardipithecus ramidus at Aramis, Ethiopia, which they described as containing habitats ranging from woodland to forest patches. In contrast, we find the environmental context of Ar. ramidus at Aramis to be represented by what is commonly referred to as tree- or bush-savanna, with 25% or less woody canopy cover.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1185274

    View details for Web of Science ID 000278104700022

    View details for PubMedID 20508112

  • A Howiesons Poort tradition of engraving ostrich eggshell containers dated to 60,000 years ago at Diepkloof Rock Shelter, South Africa PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Texier, P., Porraz, G., Parkington, J., Rigaud, J., Poggenpoel, C., Miller, C., Tribolo, C., Cartwright, C., Coudenneau, A., Klein, R., Steele, T., Verna, C. 2010; 107 (14): 6180-6185
  • Morphometric identification of bovid metapodials to genus and implications for taxon-free habitat reconstruction JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL SCIENCE Klein, R. G., Franciscus, R. G., Steele, T. E. 2010; 37 (2): 389-401
  • Darwin and the recent African origin of modern humans PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Klein, R. G. 2009; 106 (38): 16007-16009

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0908719106

    View details for Web of Science ID 000270071600001

    View details for PubMedID 19805251

  • MOGAPELWA: ARCHAEOLOGY PALAEOENVIRONMENT AND ORAL TRADITIONS AT LAKE NGAMI, BOTSWANA SOUTH AFRICAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL BULLETIN Robbins, L. H., Campbell, A. C., Murphy, M. L., Brook, G. A., Mabuse, A. A., Hitchcock, R. K., Babutsi, G., Mmolawa, M., Stewart, K. M., Steele, T. E., Klein, R. G., Appleton, C. C. 2009; 64 (189): 13-32
  • Out of Africa and the Evolution of Human Behavior EVOLUTIONARY ANTHROPOLOGY Klein, R. G. 2008; 17 (6): 267-281

    View details for DOI 10.1002/evan.20181

    View details for Web of Science ID 000262150800005

  • Intertidal shellfish use during the Middle and Later Stone Age of South Africa ARCHAEOFAUNA Steele, T. E., Klein, R. G. 2008; 17: 63-76
  • Going strong, and growing JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL SCIENCE Rehren, T., Grattan, J., Klein, R. G. 2008; 35 (2): 213-213
  • Obituary - F. Clark Howell (1925-2007) JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL SCIENCE Klein, R. G., Butzer, K. W. 2007; 34 (9): 1552-1553
  • The mammalian fauna associated with an archaic hominin skullcap and later Acheulean artifacts at Elandsfontein, Western Cape Province, South Africa JOURNAL OF HUMAN EVOLUTION Klein, R. G., Avery, G., Cruz-Uribe, K., Steele, T. E. 2007; 52 (2): 164-186

    Abstract

    The Elandsfontein site, Western Cape Province, South Africa, is well known for an archaic hominin skullcap associated with later Acheulean artifacts. The site has also provided nearly 13,000 mammalian bones that can be identified to skeletal part and taxon. The assemblage derives from 49 species, 15 of which have no historic descendants. Comparisons to radiometrically dated faunas in eastern Africa indicate an age between 1 million and 600 thousand years ago. Unique features of the fauna, including the late occurrence of a dirk-toothed cat and a sivathere, may reflect its geographic origin in a region that was notable historically for its distinctive climate and high degree of biotic endemism. Together, taxonomic composition, geomorphic setting, and pollen extracted from coprolites indicate the proximity of a large marsh or pond, maintained by a higher water table. The small average size of the black-backed jackals implies relatively mild temperatures. The sum of the evidence places bone accumulation during one of the mid-Pleistocene interglacials that were longer and cooler than later ones, including the Holocene. The geomorphic context of the fauna presents no evidence for catastrophe, and most deaths probably resulted from attritional factors that disproportionately killed the young and old. However, only the dental-age profile of long-horned buffalo supports this directly. Field collection methods biased skeletal-part representation, but originally, it probably resembled the pattern in the younger, marsh-edge Acheulean occurrence at Duinefontein 2, 45 km to the south. Excavation there exposed multiple vertebral spreads, which probably mark carcasses from which hominins or large carnivores removed the meatier elements. Bone damage at both sites suggests that, despite abundant artifacts, hominins were much less important than carnivores in the bone accumulation. Together with limited observations from other sites, Elandsfontein and Duinefontein provisionally suggest that Acheulean-age hominins obtained few large mammals, whether by hunting or scavenging.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jhevol.2006.08.006

    View details for Web of Science ID 000244619800004

    View details for PubMedID 17030056

  • Paleoanthropology. Whither the Neanderthals? Science Klein, R. G. 2003; 299 (5612): 1525-1527

    View details for PubMedID 12624250

  • Whither the Neanderthals? SCIENCE Klein, R. G. 2003; 299 (5612): 1525-1527

Books and Book Chapters


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