Jeremy DeSilva

3-Million-Year-Old Foot Tells Tales About Our Ancestors

"3-Million-Year-Old Foot Tells Tales About Our Ancestors"

July 10, 2018  by Joseph Blumberg

Analysis of the rare fossil provides new perspectives on walking and climbing.

“For the first time, we have an amazing window into what walking was like for a 2½-year-old more than 3 million years ago,” says Associate Professor Jeremy DeSilva. “This is the most complete foot of an ancient human ancestor or extinct relative ever discovered.”

Click here to read the full article at Dartmouth News.

Quote of the Day - July 9, 2018 Jeremy DeSilva

“Every so often, we find a fragmentary piece of a kid’s mandible, or some teeth. But this discovery is just extraordinary.”

—Jeremy DeSilva, associate professor of anthropology

Click here to read the full article 'Were Our Ancestors Sleeping in Trees 3 Million Years Ago?" published on July 6, 2018 in The Atlantic.


Prof. DeSilva's study featured in National Geographic

A study by lead author, Jeremy DeSilva, published in Science Advances  ("A nearly complete foot from Dikika, Ethiopia and its implications for the ontogeny and function of Australopithecus afarensis") was featured on July 4, 2018, in National Geographic.
The article titled, "Foot of 'World's Oldest Child' Shows How Our Ancestors Moved. The exquisite, 3.3-million-year-old fossil is the only one of its kind ever found", quotes Prof. De Silva “Every fossil gives us some bit of our past, [but] when you have a child skeleton, you can ask questions about growth and development—and what the life of a kid was like three million years ago,” says lead study author Jeremy DeSilva, a paleoanthropologist at Dartmouth College. “It's a magnificent find.”

Click here to read the full article in National

"Virtual Office Hour"

Last October Prof. Jerry Desilva held a "Virtual Office Hour"  (information below from

Jeremy DeSilva, associate professor of anthropology at Dartmouth College, and Briana Pobiner, paleoanthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution, co-instructed a free online course on bipedalism. They hosted their first Shindig event to conduct a virtual office hour, sharing their research on bipedalism and taking questions from the audience.

Attendees of the online course were encouraged to attend the Shindig event, while the event itself was promoted over social media and email and to anthropology students at Dartmouth.

This was the first time the course instructors held a synchronous virtual office hour and it went really well. Attendees were very engaged, with numerous asking questions both over text and onstage to address the group over video.

Click here to see a clip of the "Virtual Office Hour" from

"Medical Gross Anatomy: Scars of Human Evolution"

Prof. DeSilva and Prof. Dominy will be teaching ANTH 42 "Medical Gross Anatomy: Scars of Human Evolution" during summer term ’18
Human anatomy is important for medical professionals, artists, and anthropologists. This dissection-based course will explore the human body and its many imperfections. The deficiencies of our bodies —clumsy compromises in our teeth, feet, backs, bottoms, and birthings— are chronic clinical concerns that reflect our evolutionary history. Taking a cue from Wilton Krogman’s 1951 classic, Scars of Human Evolution, this course will demonstrate how and how far the human body fails by the standards of intelligent design.

Quote of the Day - 4/4/2018 Jeremy DeSilva

"In general, scientists have not seen it as their responsibility to have a public presence, and are now paying the price," says the associate professor of anthropology in an opinion piece about how the movie "E.T. The Extra Terrestrial" and other films revealed a mistrust of science by the American public.

Read more at:

Posted by Dartmouth News, [email protected], on Wednesday, April 4, 2018 for All Students, All Faculty, All Staff

New South African Fossils Add to the Story of Human Evolution

New fossils from the species Homo naledi add to an earlier trove of fossils whose discovery was announced in 2015. Jeremy DeSilva, an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology, was a member of the international team that analyzed the fossils, and he talks about what the new findings mean for scientists’ understanding of human evolution.

Read the article in Dartmouth News.

Quote of the Day - May 1, 2017 Jeremy DeSilva

Modern humans give birth in a way quite different from how their primate relatives do it, according to research described in the book "Human Birth: An Evolutionary Perspective" (1987, Aldine Transaction) by Wanda Trevathan. This is likely because of both the unusually large size of the modern human brain and the way a woman's pelvis is positioned for upright walking, Trevathan wrote. Understanding the way in which human childbirth evolved could also shed light on how unique human traits such as large brains and upright postures emerged over time.

Read the full article in LiveScience.

Prof. DeSilva Quoted in The New Yorker's "Digging For Glory"

The New Yorker's June 27 Profiles story "Digging For Glory" includes a quote from Anthropology Professor Jeremy DeSilva, who collaborated with Lee Berger, the featured paleoanthropologist of the story. 

Jeremy DeSilva recalls that when he visited Wits in 2009 Berger offered to open the fossil vault. “A lot of people in our business are petrified to be wrong,” DeSilva told me. “You have to be willing to be wrong. What Lee is doing takes that to another level.”

Check out the complete story here!

“It’s a competitive sport,” Lee Berger says of paleoanthropology. The field is split between those who consider him a visionary for sharing his fossil data and those who worry that he places showmanship over rigor.

The Recent Discovery of a Distant Cousin: Homo naledi

Prof. DeSilva and a team of scholars at universities around the world are quickly working to place the newest fossil discovery into the history of human evolution.

Detailed analyses of Homo naledi shows a mosaic of both early and modern human features.

The recent discovery of a new human ancestor in the Rising Star cave system of South Africa shook the family tree. The newest member—Homo naledi—has a mash-up of ancient and modern human features, and the announcement stirred some controversy over whether the specimens are truly a new species.

Two studies published today in Nature Communications only intensify the debate, suggesting that H. naledi was a tree climber, long-distance strider and potential tool-user.