Kieran P McNulty

Kieran McNulty is a professor of anthropology and director of undergraduate studies at the University of Minnesota, where he was awarded the McKnight Land-Grant Fellowship 2008 and named Scholar of the College in 2017. His principal interests are in the evolution of apes and humans, pursued simultaneously through laboratory research on the morphogenesis of skeletal anatomy and through paleontological fieldwork in East Africa. Kieran conceived of and directs the NSF-funded REACHE project, a collaborative research network that coordinates field expeditions at all of the early Miocene fossil ape sites in East Africa, and works in association with the National Museum of Kenya. In addition to NSF, his research has been funded by NIH, Wenner-Gren Foundation and Leakey Foundation. Previously, Kieran was an assistant professor at Baylor University, a Visiting Leverhulme Professor at Durham University (UK), a visiting researcher at Stony Brook University, and a Science Fellow at Ross Institute & Ross School. He has a commitment to pre-collegiate science education. Kieran serves as the principal advisor to CAITHS on Rusinga Island, Kenya, a community-based initiative dedicated to education, health, and sanitation. He received his AB from Dartmouth College and PhD from the City University of New York as part of the New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology. He and his family reside in Minnesota.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Anthropology, City University of New York, 2003.
  • M.Phil.: Anthropology, City University of New York, 2000.
  • M.A.: Anthropology, Hunter College, 1998.
  • A.B.: Anthropology, Dartmouth College, 1995.


  • Paleoanthropology
  • Human and primate evolution
  • Geometric morphometrics
  • Cranial evolution and ontogeny
  • East Africa
Courses Taught
  • ANTH 1001: Human Evolution
  • ANTH 1101: Human Biological Diversity
  • ANTH 3401/5401: The Human Fossil Record
  • ANTH 5403: Quantitative Methods in Biological Anthropology
  • ANTH 3405/5405: Human Skeletal Analysis
  • ANTH 5113/8113: Primate Evolution
  • ANTH 8111: Evolutionary Morphology
  • LA Michel, KP McNulty, SG Driese, HM Dunsworth, DL Fox, ND Garrett, WEH. Harcourt-Smith, T Lehmann, DJ Peppe. Climatic fluctuations in the early Miocene Hiwegi Formation, Lake Victoria, Kenya, and their influence on early ape evolution. Accepted for publication in Sedimentology in April, 2020.
  • RJ Sherwood, H Oh, M Valiathan, KP McNulty, DL Duren, RP Knigge, A Hardin, CL Holzhauer, KM Middleton (accepted). Bayesian approaches to longitudinal craniofacial growth: the Craniofacial Growth Consortium Study. Anatomical Record.
  • RP Knigge, KP McNulty, EV Leary, A Hardin, DL Duren, H Oh, M Valiathan, RJ Sherwood (accepted). Variation in growth trajectories among skeletal facial types using geometric morphometric methods. Journal of Dental Research.
  • KP McNulty (accepted). Ordination. In (B. Wood, Ed.) Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Human Evolution. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons. Submitted for Second Edition.
  • RP Knigge, C Vinyard, KP McNulty (2020). Mandibular symphyseal fusion in fossil primates: Insights from correlated patterns of jaw shape and masticatory function in living primates. Published online in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.24048.
  • EA Simons, SR Frost, K Harvati, KP McNulty, M Singleton (2020). Comparing rates of linage diversification with rates of size and shape evolution in catarrhine crania. Accepted for publication in Journal of Evolutionary Biology 47: 152-163.
  • A Hardin, M Valiathan, H Oh, RP Knigge, KP McNulty, EV Leary, DL Duren, RJ Sherwood (2020). Clinical implications of age-related change of the mandibular plane angle. Orthodontics and Craniofacial Research 23: 50-58.
  • H Oh, RP Knigge, A Hardin, RJ Sherwood, DL Duren, M Valiathan, EV Leary, KP McNulty (2019). Predicting facial type from mandibular landmark data at young ages. Orthodontic and Craniofacial Research 22 (Suppl. 1): 154-162.
  • KP McNulty, R Jansma (2018). Proconsul. In (W. Trevethan, Ed.) The International Encyclopedia of Biological Anthropology. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons.
  • JM Zichello, KL Baab, KP McNulty, CJ Raxworthy, M Steiper (2018). Hominoid intraspecific cranial variation mirrors neutral genetic diversity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115: 11501-11506.
  • WE Lukens, T Lehmann, SG Driese, DJ Peppe, DL Fox, KP McNulty (2017). The early Miocene critical zone at Karungu, Western Kenya: an equatorial, open habitat with few primate remains. Frontiers in Earth Sciences 5: 1-21. doi: 10.3389/feart.2017.00087.
  • KE Jenkins, S Nightingale, JT Faith, DJ Peppe, LA Michel, SG Driese, KP McNulty, CA Tryon (2017) New excavations at Wakondo (Rusinga Island, Kenya): Middle Stone Age exploitation of a catastrophic death assemblage of the extinct bovid, Rusingoryx atopocranion. Journal of Human Evolution 108: 72-91.
  • KP McNulty (2016). Hominin taxonomy and phylogeny: what's in a name? Nature Education Knowledge 7(1): 2.
  • S Cote, KP McNulty, NJ Stevens, IO Nengo (2016). A detailed assessment of the maxillary morphology of Limnopithecus evansi with implications for the taxonomy of the genus. Journal of Human Evolution 94: 83-91.
  • KB Carlson, DJ de Ruiter, TJ DeWitt, KP McNulty, KJ Carlson, P Tafforeau, LR Berger (2016). Developmental simulation of the adult cranial morphology of Australopithecus sediba. South African Journal Science 112(7/8), Art. #2016-0012, 9 pages.
  • D Geraads, T Lehmann, DJ Peppe, KP McNulty (2016). New Rhinocerotidae from the Kisingiri localities (Lower Miocene of Western Kenya). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 36: e1103247
  • JA Ledogar, AL Smith, S Benazzi, GW Weber, MA Spencer, KP Carlson, KP McNulty, et al. (2016). Mechanical evidence that Australopithecus sediba was limited in its ability to eat hard foods. Nature Communications 7: 10596.
  • KP McNulty, editor (2015). Paleontology and Primate Evolution, Scitable: Biological Anthropology. Nature Education Knowledge.
  • KP McNulty, DR Begun, J Kelley, FK Manthi, EN Mbua (2015). A systematic revision of Proconsul with the description of a new genus of early Miocene hominoid. Journal of Human Evolution 84, 42-61.
  • KP McNulty, CJ Vinyard (2015). Morphometry, geometry, function and the future. The Anatomical Record 298, 328-333.
  • ND Garrett, DL Fox, KP McNulty, CA Tryon, JT Faith, DJ Peppe, A Van Plantinga (2015). Stable isotopic paleoecology of late Pleistocene Middle Stone Age humans in equatorial East Africa, Lake Victoria, Kenya. Journal of Human Evolution 82, 1-14.
  • RP Knigge, MW Tocheri, CM Orr, KP McNulty (2015). The relationship between talar morphology and habitual substrate use among living gorilla taxa assessed using 3D geometric morphometrics. The Anatomical Record 298, 277-290.
  • B Shearer, PS Ungar, KP McNulty, WEH Harcourt-Smith, HM Dunsworth, MF Teaford (2015). Dental microwear profilometry of African non-cercopithecoid catarrhines of the Early Miocene. Journal of Human Evolution 78, 33-43.
  • LA Michel, DJ Peppe, JA Lutz, SG Driese, HM Dunsworth, WEH Harcourt-Smith, W Horner, T Lehmann, S Nightengale, KP McNulty (2014). Remnants of an ancient forest provide ecological context for Early Miocene fossil apes. Nature Communications 5: 3236. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4236.
  • KL Baab, KP McNulty, K Harvati (2013). A comprehensive comparison of the Homo floresiensis cranium to pathological humans and extinct hominins. PLoS ONE 8, e69119.
  • K Kovarovic, R Slepkov, KP McNulty (2013). Ecological continuity between Lower and Upper Bed II, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Journal of Human Evolution 64, 538-555.
  • JL Conrad, K Jenkins, T Lehmann, FK Manthi, DJ Peppe, S Nightingale, A Cossette, HM Dunsworth, WEH Harcourt-Smith, KP McNulty (2013). New specimens of 'Crocodyluspigotti (Crocodylidae) from Rusinga Island, Kenya, and generic re-allocation of the species. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 33, 629-646.
  • DP Maxbauer, DJ Peppe, M Bamford, KP McNulty, WEH Harcourt-Smith, LE Davis (2013). A morphotype catalog and paleoenvironmental interpretations of early Miocene fossil leaves from the Hiwegi Formation, Rusinga Island, Lake Victoria, Kenya. Paleontologia Electronica 16: 28A, 19p.
  • KP McNulty (2012). Evolutionary development in Australopithecus africanus. Evolutionary Biology 39: 488-498.
  • KL Baab, KP McNulty, FJ Rohlf (2012). The shape of human evolution: a geometric morphometrics perspective. Evolutionary Anthropology 21, 151-165.[cover article]
  • PS Ungar, JR Scott, S Curran, HM Dunsworth, WEH Harcourt-Smith, T Lehmann, FK Manthi, KP McNulty (2012). Early Neogene environments in East Africa: evidence from dental microwear of tragulids. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 342-343, 84-96.
  • RJ Sherwood, KP McNulty (2011). Dissecting the Genetic Architecture of Craniofacial Shape. In (PE Lestrel, ed.) Biological Shape Analysis: Proceedings of the 1st International Symposium. Singapore: World Scientific pp. 145-171.
  • KP McNulty, KL Baab (2010). Keeping Asymmetry in LB1 in Perspective: A Reply to Eckhardt and Henneberg. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 143, 337-339.
  • C Tryon, JT Faith, DJ Peppe, DL Fox, KP McNulty, K Jenkins, HM Dunsworth, WEH Harcourt-Smith (2010). The Pleistocene archaeology and environments of the Wasiriya Beds, Rusinga Island, Kenya. Journal of Human Evolution 59, 657-671.
  • KP McNulty (2010). Apes and tricksters: the evolution and diversification of humans’ closest relatives. Evolution: Education and Outreach 3, 322-332.
  • G Monnier, KP McNulty (2010). Questioning the link between stone tool standardization and behavioral modernity. In (S Lycett, P Chauhan, eds) New Perspectives on Old Stones: Analytical Approaches to Palaeolithic Technologies. New York: Springer, pp. 61-81.
  • M Singleton, KP McNulty, SR Frost, J Soderberg, EH Guthrie (2010). Bringing up baby: developmental simulation of the adult cranial morphology of Rungwecebus kipunji. The Anatomical Record 293, 388-401.
  • KL Baab, KP McNulty (2009). Scaling and asymmetry in fossil hominins: the status of the LB1 cranium based on 3D morphometric analyses. Journal of Human Evolution 57, 608-622.
  • KP McNulty (2009). Computing singular warps from Procrustes aligned coordinates. Journal of Human Evolution 57, 191-194.
  • DJ Peppe, KP McNulty, S Cote, WEH Harcourt-Smith, HM Dunsworth, JA Van Couvering (2009). Stratigraphic interpretation of the Kulu Formation (Early Miocene, Rusinga Island, Kenya) and its implications for primate evolution. Journal of Human Evolution 56, 447-461.
  • KP McNulty, SR Frost, DS Strait (2006). Examining affinities of the Taung child by developmental simulation. Journal of Human Evolution 51, 274-296.
  • K Harvati, SR Frost, KP McNulty (2006). Neandertaler: Vorfahren oder entfernte Verwandte? In (G. Uelsberg, Ed.) Roots//Wurzeln der Menschheit. Katalog zur Ausstellung. Bonn: Rheinisches LandesMuseum Bonn, pp. 133-139.
  • KP McNulty (2005). A geometric morphometric assessment of the hominoid supraorbital region: affinities of the Eurasian Miocene hominoids Dryopithecus, Graecopithecus, and Sivapithecus. In (DE Slice, ed) Modern Morphometrics in Physical Anthropology. New York: Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 349-373.
  • K Harvati, SR Frost, KP McNulty (2005). Neanderthal variation and taxonomy“”a reply to Ackermann (2005) and Ahern et al. (2005). Journal of Human Evolution 48, 653-660.
  • KP McNulty (2004). A geometric morphometric assessment of hominoid crania: conservative African apes and their liberal implications. Annals of Anatomy 186, 429-434.
  • K Harvati, SR Frost, KP McNulty (2004). Neanderthal taxonomy reconsidered: Implications of 3D primate models of intra- and interspecific differences. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 101, 1147-1152.
  • KP McNulty (2002). Myths and conceptions of Darwin: refocusing and refuting arguments against evolution. In (A Chesworth, S Hill, K Lipovsky, E Snyder, W Chesworth, eds) Darwin Day Collection One: The Single Best Idea, Ever. Albuquerque: Tangled Bank Press, pp. 277-285.
  • Scholar of the College, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota, 2017 - 2020
  • Inductee, Alumni Hall of Fame, St. Francis High School, Traverse City, MI, 2017
  • Leading with Faith award, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, 2017
  • Leverhulme Trust Fellow, Durham University, U.K., 2011 - 2012
  • McKnight Land Grant Professorship, 2009 - 2011