Erik Trinkaus, Mary Tileston Hemenway Professor of Physical Anthropology at Washington University, is considered by many to be the world's most influential scholar of Neandertal biology and evolution. Trinkaus' research is concerned with the evolution of our genus as a background to recent human diversity. In this, he has focused on the paleoanthropology of late archaic and early modern humans, emphasizing biological reflections of the nature, degree and patterning of the behavioral shifts between these two groups of Pleistocene humans. This research includes considerations of the "origins of modern humans" debate, interpretations of the archeological record, and patterns of recent human anatomical variation. In 1999, Trinkaus and an international team of scientists documented that Neandertals roamed central Europe as recently as 28,000 years ago -- the latest date ever recorded for Neandertal fossils worldwide. The team's findings could force other scientists to rethink theories of Neandertal extinction, intelligence and contributions to the human gene pool. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Trinkaus is frequently quoted in the popular media.
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