Neil Thomas Roach
I am a biological anthropologist broadly interested in understanding the evolution of human behavior and the physiological and ecological forces that shaped that behavior through time. The central focus of my current research is on the role throwing may have played in early hunting behavior.
The origin of hunting is thought to be a critically important behavioral transition that dramatically changed the diet, anatomy, life history, and social behavior of our hominin ancestors. The earliest evidence of hunting behavior dates back close to 2 million years ago and may have played a role in the origins of our genus, Homo.
My research investigates the role throwing played in early hunting behavior using comparative and experimental biomechanics approaches. I test how changes in upper body anatomy, known to have occurred during human evolution, would affect throwing performance. I then use this experimental data to interpret the hominin fossil record to determine when fossil hominins began using thrown projectiles, such as spears, to hunt.
I received my PhD in biological anthropology in 2012 from Harvard University. My dissertation, entitled “The biomechanics and evolution of high-speed throwing” was completed under the supervision of Professor Dan Lieberman. My undergraduate degree was completed at the University of Connecticut, under the advisement of Professor Sally McBrearty. Outside of the lab, I have done extensive archaeological and paleontological fieldwork in Kenya.