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Herman Pontzer

Phone: 212-772-5419
Room: N 727

I'm interested in linking energetics and functional morphology to ecology in the great apes and humans. How do the energetic physiology and musculoskeletal anatomy of apes and humans reflect our ecological niche and evolutionary history?

My research uses a combined modeling and experimental approach to test hypotheses regarding selection pressures shaping metabolic physiology and functional anatomy in apes, humans, and extinct hominins. I investigate these hypotheses by measuring metabolic energy expenditure in apes, humans, and other species, and by exploring optimal control and morphological solutions to different selection pressures through numerical and computer modeling. You can read more about my work at my lab website,

I'm currently involved in a multiyear project to measure daily energy use in the great apes and human foragers using the doubly-labeled water method. These measurements are needed to compare and understand the evolved energy-use strategies and evolutionary trajectories of the great apes and humans. I'm also involved in the ongoing excavations in the Lower Paleolithic site of Dmanisi in the Republic of Georgia. Fieldwork there provides an exciting opportunity to apply results from the lab to the fossil record. Dated to 1.8 mya, Dmanisi is a particularly interesting site as it's the earliest evidence of hominids (Homo ergaster) outside of Africa.