|Richard G. Klein|
April 11, 1941 |
|Alma mater||University of Chicago
University of Michigan
|Known for||Study of human origins|
|Awards||Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Gordon J. Laing Award|
|Institutions||Stanford University; University of Chicago; University of Washington, Seattle; Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee|
Richard G. Klein (born April 11, 1941) is a Professor of Biology and Anthropology at Stanford University. He is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences. He earned his PhD at the University of Chicago in 1966, and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in April 2003. His research interests include paleoanthropology, Africa and Europe. His primary thesis is that modern humans evolved in East Africa some 100,000 years ago and, starting 50,000 years ago, began spreading throughout the non-African world, replacing archaic human populations over time. He is a critic of the idea that behavioral modernity arose gradually over the course of tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of years or millions of years, instead supporting the view that modern behavior arose suddenly in the Upper Paleolithic revolution around 50,000 or 40,000 years ago.
Klein was born in 1941 in Chicago, and went to college at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In 1962, he enrolled as a graduate student at the University of Chicago to study with the Neanderthal expert, Francis Clark Howell. Of the two theories in vogue then, that Neanderthals had evolved into the Cro-Magnons of Europe or that they had been replaced by the Cro-Magnons, Klein favored the replacement theory. Klein completed a master's degree in 1964, and then studied at the University of Bordeaux with François Bordes, who specialized in prehistory. There he visited the La Quina and La Ferrassie caves in southwest France, containing Cro-Magnon artifacts layered on top of Neanderthal ones. These visits influenced him into believing the shift from Neanderthal to modern humans 40,000 to 35,000 years ago was sudden rather than gradual. Klein also visited Russia to examine artifacts.
Klein briefly held positions at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and the University of Washington, Seattle, before becoming a professor at the University of Chicago in 1973. Twenty years later, he moved to Stanford University. He has traveled to South Africa every year for many years to study its ancient hunter-gatherers.
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