Blythe A. Williams
Associate Professor of the Practice in the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology

My research has focused on the evolutionary relationships (phylogenetics) and ecological adaptations of Primates from a paleontological perspective.  I’m also interested in the evolutionary history of human dance.  My current teaching includes Dance Science, Ethics in Evolutionary Anthropology, and Becoming Human.

Current Research Interests

Paleontology and Primate Adaptation.  My research has focused on the evolutionary relationships (phylogenetics) and ecological adaptations of Primates from a paleontological perspective, and has involved fieldwork that I have directed in the Rocky Mountain regions of North America, the state of Gujarat in western India, and western Ngamiland in Botswana.  My most recent publications and currently submitted work in this area include the following:

  1. Fossil Miocene vertebrates in Gujarat, including the enigmatic ape Sivapithecus  
  2. Effects of climate change on primates in the Cenozoic
  3. The evolution of adaptations to frugivory in anthropoid primates

 

Dance Science.  I’m interested in the evolutionary history of human dance.  Dance is common to all human groups, and is often a key component of rites of passage including birth, puberty and entrance into adulthood, marriage, and death.  Insights into the origins of human dance can be found in depictions of dancing figures of ancient rock paintings, comparative studies of entrainment to rhythm in non-human animals, human and non-human primate anatomy and biomechanics, and brain studies. My own mentoring and research in this area includes the following:

  1.  Study of rock paintings in northern Australia (planned for summer of 2019)
  2. Dance for people with Parkinson’s Disease (Supervisor for Duke Engage project and advisor of undergraduate mentored research)
  3. Musculoskeletal effects and injury risk in collegiate Indian classical and ballet dancers (primary advisor of undergraduate mentored research)
  4. The effects of turnout compensation on foot pressure in classical ballet dancers (primary advisor of undergraduate mentored research)

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Contact Information

  • 0013 Bio Sci Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
  • Duke Box 90383, Durham, NC 27708-0383

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