Department of Sociology & Anthropology

507 Chafee Building, 10 Chafee Road, Kingston, RI 02881

– 401.874.2587 (ph); 401.874.2588 (f)

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Holly Dunsworth

  • Department Chair, Associate Professor of Anthropology
  • Chafee Hall, Rm 508
  • Phone: 401.874.7297
  • Email:


Holly Dunsworth is an evolutionary-minded anthropologist. She teaches courses on human evolution with new and original approaches aimed at overturning evolutionary misconceptions and outdated evolutionary dogma that students bring to college. At the early Miocene sites on Rusinga Island, Kenya she performs paleontological research where ancient fossil apes are preserved (like Proconsul), and she also studies live and recently live primates including, of course, humans. Dunsworth is particularly interested in how life history traits evolve—especially the anatomical, physiological, and behavioral traits related to making, growing, and raising offspring. She has contributed her research, scholarship, and writing to various books and journals. She is presently co-authoring a book with Anne Buchanan called The Baby Makers and she regularly contributes to the science blog The Mermaid’s Tale.

Dunsworth teaches the following courses in biological anthropology at the University of Rhode Island: Human Origins (APG 201), Sex and Reproduction in Our Species (APG 310), Human Variation (APG 350), and The Human Fossil Record (APG 300).


  • Ph.D. in Anthropology, Pennsylvania State University, 2006
  • M.A. (with distinction) in Anthropology, Pennsylvania State University, 2001
  • B.A. (with high honors) on Anthropology, University of Florida, 1999



  • Dunsworth HM and A Buchanan. IN PREP. The Babymakers.
  • Dunsworth HM and L Eccleston. IN PRESS. “The evolution of difficult childbirth and helpless hominin infants,” Annual Review of Anthropology 44 (2015).
  • Dunsworth HM. IN PRESS. “The ‘obstetric dilemma’ unraveled,” In Trevathan W and K Rosenberg, editors: Costly and Cute: The role of the helpless infant in human evolution. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research.
  • Dunsworth HM. 2015. “How to become a primate fossil,”  Nature Education Knowledge 6(7): 1 [link]
  • Pontzer H, Raichlen DA, Gordon AD, Schroepfer KK, Hare B, O’Neill MC, Muldoon KM, Dunsworth HM, Wood BM, Isler K, Burkart J, Irwin M, Shumaker RW, Lonsdorf  EV, and SR Ross. 2014. “Primate energy expenditure and life history,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 111(4): 1433–1437.
  • Michel LA, Peppe DJ, Lutz JA, Driese SG, Dunsworth HM, Harcourt-Smith WEH, Horner WH, Lehmann T, Nightingale S, and KP McNulty. 2014. “Remnants of an ancient forest provide ecological context for Early Miocene fossil apes,” Nature Communications 5:3236 | DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4236
  • Dunsworth HM, Warrener A, Deacon T, Ellison P, and H Pontzer. 2012. “Metabolic hypothesis for human altriciality,” 2012. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 109(38): 15212-15216.

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