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headshot of Rolf Quam

Rolf Quam

Professor/Chair

Anthropology

Background

Quam is a paleoanthropologist who focuses on evolutionary aspects of the cranium and mandible. In particular, he has collaborated on a long-term research project to reconstruct the hearing capacities in our fossil human ancestors. In addition to reconstructing an aspect of sensory perception, this research line has shed new light on the process of language evolution, including in our closest evolutionary relatives the Neandertals. Since 1996, he has participated in the ongoing fieldwork being carried out at the Pleistocene locality of Atapuerca in northern Spain. These sites contain some of the richest human fossil bearing deposits in the world and represent the earliest evidence for incipient mortuary practices in the fossil record. During the course of his research, Quam has personally studied a wide diversity of original human fossils from Europe, the Middle East and Africa spanning the last 3 million years of human evolution.

Education

  • PhD, Binghamton University
  • MA, Northern Illinois University
  • BA, University of Illinois

Research Interests

  • Paleoanthropology
  • Neandertals
  • Language Evolution

More Info

Research Profile

§NPR interview with Rolf Quam, May 27, 2015: A murder case — more than 435,000 years old. Scientists Discover Evidence Of A 435,000-Year-Old Murder

§BBC World Service interview with Rolf Quam, March 4, 2021: Evolution of hearing and speech in Neandertals. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3cszh1t