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Stephen R Merritt, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
University of Alabama at Birmingham
1401 University Blvd. (HHB 312)
Birmingham, AL 35294
Phone: (205) 934-1742 or (205) 934-3508
Full CV

I completed my bachelor’s degree in evolutionary anthropology at Rutgers University and continued studying there, earning my PhD in Anthropology with a focus on Early Stone Age zooarchaeology and taphonomy. This education provided the foundation for my study of humanity’s dietary evolution and offered the opportunity to conduct paleoanthropological fieldwork at Koobi Fora in northern Kenya, which is one of the world’s richest sources of early human fossils and archaeological traces of ancient human behavior and ecology. During my graduate studies and professional academic career I taught students about these topics and involved them in my archaeological research on the Koobi Fora Field School.

My research investigates the evolution of human carnivory, and explores how the simple stone tools our ancestors used to butcher and consume animal carcasses 1.5 million-years-ago introduced a series of dietary changes and impacted our ecological relationships with other animals including predators, competitors, and prey. This ancient example of how technology mediates our diet and ecology is linked to major evolutionary trends in the human lineage including increasing brain size and complex social organization, but also provides an intriguing frame of reference for understanding the technological and ecological contexts of our diet in the contemporary world.

More details about my research can be found on my faculty page:

Students who are interested in paleoanthropological fieldwork and research experience, particularly advanced undergraduates or early-career graduate students who intend to pursue careers in the STEM fields, can find information about research opportunities here:


  1. 2015 Cut mark cluster geometry and equifinality in replicated Early Stone Age butchery. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology. DOI: 10.1002/oa.2448.
  2. 2012 Factors affecting Early Stone Age cut mark cross-sectional size: implications from actualistic butchery trials. Journal of Archaeological Science 39: 2984-2994.
  3. 2011 Controlled butchery observations as a means for interpreting Okote Member hominin carnivory at Koobi Fora, Kenya. Ph.D. Dissertation, Rutgers University.
  4. 2000 A quantitative analysis of cut marks experimentally produced by large bifacial tools and small flakes. Henry Rutgers Undergraduate Honors Research Thesis, Rutgers University.