Earthwatch Co-PI, Lucas K. Delezene, Ph.D.

Lucas K. Delezene, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
University of Arkansas

Lucas researches primate and human evolution, primarily using teeth as tools to answer questions about extinct organisms. To make sense of the patterns he sees in the fossil record, he also studies living primates and humans.

Why are you interested in your research focus?

Teeth are often the most abundant fossil elements preserved. And because teeth are central to eating, they are shaped by evolution to efficiently break down our food. Other details, like social behaviors, including fighting for mates, and details of the pace at which we go through life, like weaning age, are also recorded in teeth. Thus, teeth provide some of the most robust evidence of our evolution. I’ve been fortunate to work in the field at fossil sites in South Africa, Ethiopia, Spain, and Zambia. And have worked in museum collections in North America, Europe, and Africa.

What is one of your favorite moments in the field?

It’s hard to pinpoint one favorite moment. When I think of the field, I think of being covered in dirt and needing a good shower at the end of the day but feeling completely satisfied by the work that I did. One day that stands out is walking about seven miles to a field site where all our gear had to be packed in by horses and mules. Our gear got a ride, but we had to walk. On the way in, a cowboy gave us a lecture on every type of grass that we passed. He could have cared less about fossils.

  • Ph.D. 2011: Arizona State University
  • B.S. 2000: Emory University
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