Chris Beard

Senior Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology, University of Kansas Biodiversity Institue & Natural History Museum.
Foundation Distinguished Professor, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas.
Primary office:
Dyche Hall
University of Kansas


Dr. Beard is a vertebrate paleontologist interested in the origin and early evolution of primates and how changes in the Earth’s physical environment have impacted Cenozoic mammals.


University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: B.A., Anthropology/Zoology, 1984, with highest honors.
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine: Ph.D., Functional Anatomy and Evolution Program, 1990.


Chris Beard studies the origin and early evolutionary history of primates and other mammals. Longstanding focal points of Beard’s research have included the macroevolutionary events surrounding the origin of the order Primates and its major clades, particularly anthropoids. Another priority is to document and interpret major episodes of faunal turnover in the fossil record, especially that which transpired across the Paleocene-Eocene boundary. Beard is especially interested in understanding how changes in the Earth’s physical environment, including major tectonic events and ancient episodes of climate change, have impacted the biogeography and evolutionary history of primates and other mammals. Current field projects are both domestic and international in scope, ranging from the Paleocene and Eocene of southwestern Wyoming to the early Cenozoic of China, Myanmar, Turkey and Libya.

Selected Grants

National Science Foundation BCS 1157142 (2012) “Into Africa: The Initial Colonization of Africa by Early Cenozoic Anthropoids,” $384,119.

National Science Foundation BCS 0820602 (2008) “Collaborative Research: Paleontological Investigation of Early Primate Evolution in Asia,” $173,212.

National Science Foundation DBI 0821644 (2008) “Acquisition of a Variable Pressure SEM to enable Research, Education, and Services at Carnegie Museum of Natural History,” $280,000 (Co-PI with J.E. Rawlins, J.R. Wible, K. Handron, and S.L. Olsen).

United States Department of the Interior: Save America’s Treasures Program (2005) “Vertebrate Paleontology Collection of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History,” $450,000 (Co-PI with B. DeWalt, B. Hamann).

National Science Foundation BCS 0309800 (2003) “Investigating the Origin and Early Evolution of Primates in Asia,” $267,002 (Co-PI with J. Meng).

National Science Foundation DEB 0073414 (2000) “SGER: Salvaging a Unique Early Eocene Biota from the Gulf Coastal Plain of Mississippi,” $60,001.

Selected Awards & Honors

MacArthur Fellowship, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (awarded in 2000).
Phi Beta Kappa Society Science Book Award for The Hunt for the Dawn Monkey (2005).
W.W. Howells Book Award for The Hunt for the Dawn Monkey, Biological Anthropology Section, American Anthropological Association (2005).

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