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TP Kanam East
  Thomas Plummer  
   Ph.D. Yale 1991      
Powdermaker  Hall 315M 
(718) 997-5514
(718) 997-2885




Interests: Courses Taught:
  • Oldowan hominid behavior and paleoecology
  • Early Stone Age technology
  • Hominid paleontology, human osteology
  • Vertebrate paleontology
  • Introduction to Human Evolution (102)
  • Essentials of Biological Anthropology (260)
  • Human Skeleton (272)
  • Special Topics: Faunal Analysis (279)
  • Human Paleontology (362)
  • Courses Taught at Other Institutions:
  • Reconstructing Plio-Pleistocene Hominid Behavior and Paleoecology
  • Old World Prehistory
  • The Biocultural Origins of Modern Humans
  • Homo erectus: Current Understanding of Our Ancestral Species

  • Field Research:
    Selected Publications:
        Dr. Plummer's research focuses on reconstructing the behavior and ecology of extinct members of our biological family, the Hominidae. It includes a strong paleoecological component because paleoenvironmental information is integral to issues ranging from the origin of major morphological complexes (e.g. bipedalism), understanding adaptive shifts within and between hominid lineages (e.g. between hominids with gracile and robust chewing apparatuses) and elucidating the context of novel behaviors (e.g., the production of stone tools and the formation of the first archeological sites at ca. 2.6 million years ago).  

        His fieldwork focuses on investigating archeological and paleontological occurrences in late Pliocene and Pleistocene sediments on the Homa Peninsula, southwestern Kenya. He is particularly interested in probing the adaptive significance of the earliest stone tool industry, known as the Oldowan. His on-going excavations at the ca. 2.0 million year old Oldowan site of Kanjera South, Kenya, have uncovered the largest assemblage of artifacts and archeological fauna from an Oldowan site outside of Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Manuscripts describing and interpreting the finds from Kanjera are currently in preparation.

    Editorial Work:
    Paleoanthropologist on editorial advisory board of the Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology Book Series published by Springer, 2006 to present.

    Grant Advisory Work:
    Scientific Executive Committee Member, L.S.B. Leakey Foundation (Spring 2017-present)

    Forrest, F. L., Plummer, T. W., & R. L. Raaum (2018). Ecomorphological analysis of bovid mandibles from Laetoli Tanzania using 3D geometric morphometrics: Implications for hominin paleoenvironmental reconstruction. Journal of Human Evolution 114: 20-34.

    Ditchfield, P.W., Whitfield, E., Vincent, T., Plummer, T., Braun, D., Deino, A., Hertel, F.,Oliver, J.S., Louys, J. and L.C. Bishop (2018). Geochronology and physical context of Oldowan site formation at Kanjera South, Kenya. Geological Magazine, pp.1-11.

    Douglass, M. J., Lin, S. C., Braun, D. R., & T.W. Plummer (2018). Core Use-Life Distributions in Lithic Assemblages as a Means for Reconstructing Behavioral Patterns. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 25:254-288.

    Plummer, T. W., &Finestone, E. (2017). Archeological sites from 2.6–2.0 Ma: Towards deeper understanding of the early Oldowan. In Rethinking Human Evolution. MIT Press,Cambridge, pp. 267-296.

    Plummer, T.W. & L. Bishop (2016)Oldowan hominin behavior and ecology at Kanjera South, Kenya. Journal of Anthropological Sciences 94:29-40.

    O’Brien, H.D., Faith, J.T., Jenkins, K.E., Peppe, D.J., Plummer, T.W., Jacobs, Z.L., Li, B., Joannes-Boyau, R., Price, G., Feng, Y.X. & C.A. Tryon (2016). Unexpected Convergent Evolution of Nasal Domes between Pleistocene Bovids and Cretaceous Hadrosaur Dinosaurs. Current Biology 26:1-6.

    Elton, S., Jansson, A. U., Meloro, C., Louys, J., Plummer, T., & L. C. Bishop (2016).Exploring morphological generality in the Old World monkey postcranium using an ecomorphological framework. Journal of Anatomy 228: 534-560.

    Plummer, T. W., Ferraro, J. V., Louys, J., Hertel, F., Alemseged, Z., Bobe, R., & L. C. Bishop(2015. Bovid ecomorphology and hominin paleoenvironments of the Shungura Formation, lower Omo River Valley, Ethiopia. Journal of Human Evolution 88: 108-126.

    Parkinson,J.A.,Plummer, T. W. & A. Hartstone-Rose (2015). Characterizing felid tooth marking and gross bone damage patterns using GIS image analysis: An experimental feeding study with large felids.  Journal of Human Evolution 80:114-134.<

    Lemorini, C., Plummer, T.W., Braun, D., Crittenden, A., Marlowe, F., Bishop, L.C., Ditchfield,P., Hertel., F., Oliver, J., Schoeninger, M., & R. Potts (2014). Old stones song: functional interpretation of the Oldowan quartz and quartzite assemblage from Kanjera South (Kenya). Journal of Human Evolution 72:10-25.

    Parkinson, J.A., Plummer, T.W. & R. Bose (2014).A GIS-based approach to documenting large canid damage to bones. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 409:57-71.

    Braun,D. R. & T.W. Plummer (2013). Oldowan technology at Kanjera South: Technological diversity on the Homa Peninsula. In: Sahnouni, M. (Ed) Africa: Cradle of Humanity: Recent Discoveries, CNRPAH, Algeria, pp. 131-145.

    Ferraro, J.V., Plummer, T., Pobiner, B., Oliver, J.S., Bishop, L., Braun, D.R., Ditchfield, P.W., Seaman III, J.W.,Binetti, K.M., Seaman Jr., J.W., Hertel, F.& R. Potts (2013). Earliest Archaeological Evidence of Persistent Hominin Carnivory.PLoS ONE 8(4):e62174, 1-10.

    Louys, J., Montanari,S., Plummer, T., Hertel, F. & L.C. Bishop (2013. Evolutionary divergence and convergence in shape and size within African antelope proximal phalanges. Journal of Mammalian Evolution 20:239–248.

    Swedell,L. & T. W. Plummer. (2012) A Papionin Multi-Level Society as a Model for Early Hominin Evolution. International Journal of Primatology 33:1165-1193.

    Faith, J. T., Potts, R., Plummer, T. W., Bishop, L.C., Marean, C. W. & C. A. Tryon (2012). New perspectives on middle Pleistocene change in the large mammal faunas of East Africa: Damaliscus hypsodon sp. nov. (Mammalia, Artiodactyla) from Lainyamok, Kenya. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 361-362:84-93.

    Luoys, J., Montanari, S., Plummer, T., Hertel, F. & L.C. Bishop (2012). Evolutionary divergence and convergence in shape and size within African antelope proximal phalanges. Journal of Mammalian Evolution 20:239-248.

    Plummer, T.W. (2012). The Hard Stuff of Culture: Oldowan Archaeology at Kanjera South, Kenya. Popular Archaeology (online journal), volume 7.

    Bishop, L.C., Plummer, T.W., Hertel, F. & K. Kovarovic (2011). Paleoenvironments of Laetoli, Tanzania as determined by antelope habitat preferences. In T. Harrison (ed.) Paleontology and Geology of Laetoli: Human Evolution in Context. Vol. 2: Fossil Hominins and the Associated Fauna, Springer. pp. 355-366. ISBN 978-90-481-9961-7.

    T. W. Plummer, P. W. Ditchfield, L. C. Bishop, J. D. Kingston, J. V. Ferraro, D. R. Braun, F. Hertel, and R. Potts (2009). Oldest Evidence of Toolmaking Hominins in a Grassland- Dominated Ecosystem. PLoS ONE 4:7199.

    Plummer, T. W., L. C. Bishop, and F. Hertel (2008). Habitat preference of extant African bovids based on astragalus morphology: operationalizing ecomorphology for palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. Journal of Archaeological Science 35:3016-3027.

    D. R. Braun, T. Plummer, P. Ditchfield, J. V. Ferraro, D. Maina, L. C. Bishop, and R. Potts (2008). Oldowan behavior and raw material transport: perspectives from the Kanjera Formation. Journal of Archaeological Science 35:2329-2345.

    Plummer, T. W. (2005). Discord after Discard. Reconstructing Aspects of Oldowan Hominin Behavior. In A. Stahl (ed) African Archaeology. A Critical Introduction, Blackwell Guides to Archaeology, Oxford, pp. 55-92.

    Plummer, T. W. (2004). Flaked stones and old bones: biological and cultural evolution at the dawn of technology. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 47: 118-164.

    Frost, S.R., Plummer, T.W., Bishop, L.C., Ditchfield, P., Ferraro, J., Hicks, J. (2003). Partial cranium of Cercopithecoides kimeui Leakey, 1982 from Rawi Gully, southwestern Kenya. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 122: 191-199.

    Plummer, T. W. & Stanford, C. B. (2000). Analysis of a bone assemblage made by chimpanzees at Gombe National Park, Tanzania. Journal of Human Evolution 39: 345-365.

    Plummer, T. W., Bishop, L., Ditchfield, P. & J. Hicks (1999). Research on late Pliocene Oldowan sites at Kanjera South, Kenya. Journal of Human Evolution 36: 151-170.