Erik R. Seiffert, PhD

Chair and Professor of Clinical Integrative Anatomical Sciences

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I am broadly interested in the phylogenetic relationships, adaptations, and historical biogeography of mammals. My research is now focused largely on fossil mammals from the later Paleogene of Africa and South America. In particular, late Eocene faunas from Egypt have provided important insights into the early evolution of anthropoid and strepsirrhine primates, and also document primitive relatives of living hyraxes, elephants, sengis, tenrecs, various bat and rodent clades, and entirely extinct clades such as Hyaenodonta and Ptolemaiida. Much of this work has been undertaken in collaboration with my current and former doctoral students, and has been funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and The Leakey Foundation.


  • Robert W. Sussman Award for Scientific Contributions to Anthropology (AAAS), 2016


  • A diminutive new basilosaurid whale reveals the trajectory of the cetacean life histories during the Eocene Commun Biol. 2023 08 10; 6(1):707. . View in PubMed
  • Total evidence time-scaled phylogenetic and biogeographic models for the evolution of sea cows (Sirenia, Afrotheria) PeerJ. 2022; 10:e13886. . View in PubMed
  • An Early Oligocene age for the oldest known monkeys and rodents of South America Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 09 14; 118(37). . View in PubMed
  • A new protocetid whale offers clues to biogeography and feeding ecology in early cetacean evolution Proc Biol Sci. 2021 08 25; 288(1957):20211368. . View in PubMed
  • New phiocricetomyine rodents (Hystricognathi) from the Jebel Qatrani Formation, Fayum Depression, Egypt PeerJ. 2021; 9:e12074. . View in PubMed
  • Dinosaur remains from the Late Cretaceous (Campanian) of the Western Desert, Egypt Cretaceous Research. 2021; 123:104783. . View in PubMed
  • Widespread loss of mammalian lineage and dietary diversity in the early Oligocene of Afro-Arabia Commun Biol. 2021 10 07; 4(1):1172. . View in PubMed
  • New crocodylomorph material from the Fayum Depression, Egypt, including the first occurrence of a sebecosuchian in African late Eocene depositsJ. Vert. Paleo. 2020; e1729781. . View in PubMed
  • Revision of Oligocene “Paraphiomys” and an origin for crown Thryonomyoidea (Rodentia, Hystricognathi, Phiomorpha) near the Oligocene-Miocene boundary in AfricaZool. J. Linn. Soc. 2020; 190:352-371. . View in PubMed
  • Oldest record of African Bagridae and evidence from catfishes for a marine influence in the late Eocene Birket Qarun Locality 2 (BQ-2), Fayum Depression, EgyptJ. Vert. Paleo. 2020; (e1780248). . View in PubMed
  • A parapithecid stem anthropoid of African origin in the Paleogene of South America Science. 2020 04 10; 368(6487):194-197. . View in PubMed
  • Early anthropoid femora reveal divergent adaptive trajectories in catarrhine hind-limb evolution Nat Commun. 2019 11 08; 10(1):4778. . View in PubMed
  • Vertical support use and primate origins Sci Rep. 2019 08 26; 9(1):12341. . View in PubMed
  • New Egyptian sauropod reveals Late Cretaceous dinosaur dispersal between Europe and Africa Nat Ecol Evol. 2018 03; 2(3):445-451. . View in PubMed
  • Fossil lemurs from Egypt and Kenya suggest an African origin for Madagascar’s aye-aye Nat Commun. 2018 08 21; 9(1):3193. . View in PubMed
  • An enigmatic crocodyliform from the Upper Cretaceous Quseir Formation, central Egypt Cretaceous Research. 2018; 90:174-184. . View in PubMed
  • Quantification of the position and depth of the flexor hallucis longus groove in euarchontans, with implications for the evolution of primate positional behavior Am J Phys Anthropol. 2017 06; 163(2):367-406. . View in PubMed
  • Dental eruption and growth in Hyracoidea J Vert Paleo. 2017; e1317638. . View in PubMed
  • A new genus and species of marine catfishes (Siluriformes; Ariidae) from the upper Eocene Birket Qarun Formation, Wadi El-Hitan, Egypt PLoS One. 2017; 12(3):e0172409. . View in PubMed
  • Craniodental and humeral morphology of a new species of Masrasector (Teratodontinae, Hyaenodonta, Placentalia) from the late Eocene of Egypt and locomotor diversity in hyaenodonts PLoS One. 2017; 12(4):e0173527. . View in PubMed
  • Astragalar and calcaneal morphology of the middle Eocene primate Anchomomys frontanyensis (Anchomomyini): Implications for early primate evolution J Hum Evol. 2016 Feb; 91:122-43. . View in PubMed
  • Internal carotid arterial canal size and scaling in Euarchonta: Re-assessing implications for arterial patency and phylogenetic relationships in early fossil primates J Hum Evol. 2016 08; 97:123-44. . View in PubMed
  • New phiomorph rodents from the latest Eocene of Egypt, and the impact of Bayesian “clock”-based phylogenetic methods on estimates of basal hystricognath relationships and biochronology PeerJ. 2016; 4:e1717. . View in PubMed
  • Ancient phylogenetic divergence of the enigmatic African rodent Zenkerella and the origin of anomalurid gliding PeerJ. 2016; 4:e2320. . View in PubMed
  • Hyainailourine and teratodontine cranial material from the late Eocene of Egypt and the application of parsimony and Bayesian methods to the phylogeny and biogeography of Hyaenodonta (Placentalia, Mammalia) PeerJ. 2016; 4:e2639. . View in PubMed
  • Evolution of postural diversity in primates as reflected by the size and shape of the medial tibial facet of the talus Am J Phys Anthropol. 2015 May; 157(1):134-77. . View in PubMed
  • Primate tarsal bones from Egerkingen, Switzerland, attributable to the middle Eocene adapiform Caenopithecus lemuroides PeerJ. 2015; 3:e1036. . View in PubMed
  • First cranial remains of a gondwanatherian mammal reveal remarkable mosaicism Nature. 2014 Nov 27; 515(7528):512-7. . View in PubMed
  • New Myzopodidae (Chiroptera) from the late Paleogene of Egypt: emended family diagnosis and biogeographic origins of Noctilionoidea PLoS One. 2014; 9(2):e86712. . View in PubMed
  • Anthracobunids from the middle eocene of India and pakistan are stem perissodactyls PLoS One. 2014; 9(10):e109232. . View in PubMed
  • Patterns of astragalar fibular facet orientation in extant and fossil primates and their evolutionary implications Am J Phys Anthropol. 2013 Jul; 151(3):420-47. . View in PubMed
  • A calcaneus attributable to the primitive late Eocene anthropoid Proteopithecus sylviae: phenetic affinities and phylogenetic implications Am J Phys Anthropol. 2013 Jul; 151(3):372-97. . View in PubMed
  • Palaeontological evidence for an Oligocene divergence between Old World monkeys and apes Nature. 2013 May 30; 497(7451):611-4. . View in PubMed
  • J Hum Evol. 2013 Mar; 64(3):211-5. . View in PubMed
  • Evolution and allometry of calcaneal elongation in living and extinct primates PLoS One. 2013; 8(7):e67792. . View in PubMed
  • Early primate evolution in Afro-Arabia Evol Anthropol. 2012 Nov; 21(6):239-53. . View in PubMed
  • Evolution of locomotion in Anthropoidea: the semicircular canal evidence Proc Biol Sci. 2012 Sep 07; 279(1742):3467-75. . View in PubMed
  • New primate first metatarsals from the Paleogene of Egypt and the origin of the anthropoid big toe J Hum Evol. 2012 Jul; 63(1):99-120. . View in PubMed
  • Evidence for a convergent slowdown in primate molecular rates and its implications for the timing of early primate evolution Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Apr 17; 109(16):6006-11. . View in PubMed
  • Diversity in the later Paleogene proboscidean radiation: a small barytheriid from the Oligocene of Dhofar Governorate, Sultanate of Oman Naturwissenschaften. 2012 Feb; 99(2):133-41. . View in PubMed
  • A radiation of arboreal basal eutherian mammals beginning in the Late Cretaceous of India Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Sep 27; 108(39):16333-8. . View in PubMed
  • Craniodental morphology and systematics of a new family of hystricognathous rodents (Gaudeamuridae) from the late eocene and early oligocene of Egypt PLoS One. 2011 Feb 22; 6(2):e16525. . View in PubMed
  • Astragalar morphology of Afradapis, a large adapiform primate from the earliest late Eocene of Egypt Am J Phys Anthropol. 2010 Nov; 143(3):383-402. . View in PubMed
  • A fossil primate of uncertain affinities from the earliest late Eocene of Egypt Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 May 25; 107(21):9712-7. . View in PubMed
  • Convergent evolution of anthropoid-like adaptations in Eocene adapiform primates Nature. 2009 Oct 22; 461(7267):1118-21. . View in PubMed
  • Fossil and molecular evidence constrain scenarios for the early evolutionary and biogeographic history of hystricognathous rodents Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Sep 29; 106(39):16722-7. . View in PubMed
  • Stable isotope evidence for an amphibious phase in early proboscidean evolution Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Apr 15; 105(15):5786-91. . View in PubMed
  • A new estimate of afrotherian phylogeny based on simultaneous analysis of genomic, morphological, and fossil evidence BMC Evol Biol. 2007 Nov 13; 7:224. . View in PubMed
  • A remarkable female cranium of the early Oligocene anthropoid Aegyptopithecus zeuxis (Catarrhini, Propliopithecidae) Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 May 22; 104(21):8731-6. . View in PubMed
  • Additional material of the enigmatic Early Miocene mammal Kelba and its relationship to the order Ptolemaiida Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Mar 27; 104(13):5510-5. . View in PubMed
  • Evolution and extinction of Afro-Arabian primates near the Eocene-Oligocene boundary Folia Primatol (Basel). 2007; 78(5-6):314-27. . View in PubMed
  • Early evolution and biogeography of lorisiform strepsirrhines Am J Primatol. 2007 Jan; 69(1):27-35. . View in PubMed
  • Revised age estimates for the later Paleogene mammal faunas of Egypt and Oman Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Mar 28; 103(13):5000-5. . View in PubMed
  • Basal anthropoids from Egypt and the antiquity of Africa’s higher primate radiation Science. 2005 Oct 14; 310(5746):300-4. . View in PubMed
  • Additional remains of Wadilemur elegans, a primitive stem galagid from the late Eocene of Egypt Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Aug 09; 102(32):11396-401. . View in PubMed
  • Afrotherian origins and interrelationships: new views and future prospects Curr Top Dev Biol. 2004; 63:37-60. . View in PubMed
  • Oligocene mammals from Ethiopia and faunal exchange between Afro-Arabia and Eurasia Nature. 2003 Dec 04; 426(6966):549-52. . View in PubMed
  • Fossil evidence for an ancient divergence of lorises and galagos Nature. 2003 Mar 27; 422(6930):421-4. . View in PubMed
  • Astragalar morphology of late Eocene anthropoids from the Fayum Depression (Egypt) and the origin of catarrhine primates J Hum Evol. 2001 Dec; 41(6):577-606. . View in PubMed
  • Morphometric variation in the hominoid orbital aperture: a case study with implications for the use of variable characters in Miocene catarrhine systematics J Hum Evol. 2001 Apr; 40(4):301-18. . View in PubMed
  • Anthropoid humeri from the late Eocene of Egypt Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Aug 29; 97(18):10062-7. . View in PubMed
  • Widanelfarasia, a diminutive placental from the late Eocene of Egypt Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Mar 14; 97(6):2646-51. . View in PubMed