K. Christopher Beard

K. Christopher Beard
  • Senior Curator, Vertebrate Paleontology Division, Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum
  • Foundation Distinguished Professor, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Contact Info

Dyche Hall
Lawrence, KS 66045


Dr. Beard is a vertebrate paleontologist interested in the origin and early evolution of primates and how changes in the Earth’s physical environment have impacted Cenozoic mammals.


Ph.D. in Functional Anatomy and Evolution Program, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 1990, Baltimore, MD
B.A. in Anthropology/Zoology, University of North Carolina, 1984, Chapel Hill, NC
with highest honors


Chris Beard studies the origin and early evolutionary history of primates and other mammals. Longstanding focal points of Beard’s research have included the macroevolutionary events surrounding the origin of the order Primates and its major clades, particularly anthropoids. Another priority is to document and interpret major episodes of faunal turnover in the fossil record, especially that which transpired across the Paleocene-Eocene boundary. Beard is especially interested in understanding how changes in the Earth’s physical environment, including major tectonic events and ancient episodes of climate change, have impacted the biogeography and evolutionary history of primates and other mammals. Current field projects are both domestic and international in scope, ranging from the Paleocene and Eocene of southwestern Wyoming to the early Cenozoic of China, Myanmar, Turkey and Libya.

Selected Publications

In press. Northernmost global record for Multituberculata from the Eocene of Ellesmere Island, Arctic Canada. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology (K. C. Beard and M. R. Dawson).

2014. New chiropterans from the middle Eocene of Shanghuang (Jiangsu Province, coastal China): New insight into the dawn horseshoe bats (Rhinolophidae) in Asia. Zoologica Scripta 43: 1-23 (A. Ravel, L. Marivaux, T. Qi, Y.-Q. Wang, and K. C. Beard).

2013. Uniquely derived upper molar morphology of Eocene Amphipithecidae (Primates: Anthropoidea): Homology and phylogeny. Journal of Human Evolution 65: 143-155 (P. Coster, K. C. Beard, Aung Naing Soe, Chit Sein, Y. Chaimanee, V. Lazzari, X. Valentin, and J.-J. Jaeger).

2013. The oldest known primate skeleton and early haplorhine evolution. Nature 498: 60-64 (X.-J. Ni, D. L. Gebo, M. Dagosto, J. Meng, P. Tafforeau, J. J. Flynn, and K. C. Beard).

2013. Anthropoid origins. In: A Companion to Paleoanthropology (D. R. Begun, ed.), pp. 358-375. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, United Kingdom.

2012. The early Eocene rodent Tuscahomys (Cylindrodontidae) from the Great Divide Basin, Wyoming: Phylogeny, biogeography, and paleoecology. Annals of Carnegie Museum 80: 187-205 (R. L. Anemone, M. R. Dawson, and K. C. Beard).

2012. Late middle Eocene primate from Myanmar and the initial anthropoid colonization of Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109: 10293-10297 (Y. Chaimanee, O. Chavasseau, K. C. Beard, Aung Aung Kyaw, Aung Naing Soe, Chit Sein, V. Lazzari, L. Marivaux, B. Marandat, Myat Swe, M. Rugbumrung, Thit Lwin, X. Valentin, Zin-Maung-Maung-Thein, and J.-J. Jaeger).

2012. New micromomyid plesiadapiforms (Mammalia, Euarchonta) from the late Paleocene of Big Multi Quarry, Washakie Basin, Wyoming. Annals of Carnegie Museum 80: 159-172 (S. G. B. Chester and K. C. Beard).

2011. Early Eocene perissodactyls (Mammalia) from the upper Nomogen Formation of the Erlian Basin, Nei Mongol, China. Vertebrata PalAsiatica 49: 123-140 (Y. Wang, J. Meng, X. Jin, K. C. Beard, B. Bai, P. Li, X. Ni, Q. Li, and D. L. Gebo).

2011. Eocene mammals from the Akasaki and Nakakoshiki formations, western Kyushu, Japan: Preliminary work and correlation with Asian land mammal ages. Vertebrata PalAsiatica 49: 53-68 (K. Miyata, Y. Tomida, K. C. Beard, G. F. Gunnell, H. Ugai, and K. Hirose).

2010. Late middle Eocene epoch of Libya yields earliest known radiation of African anthropoids. Nature 467: 1095-1098 (J.-J. Jaeger, K. C. Beard, Y. Chaimanee, M. Salem, M. Benammi, O. A. Hlal, P. Coster, A. A. Bilal, P. Duringer, M. Schuster, X. Valentin, B. Marandat, L. Marivaux, E. Métais, O. Hammuda, and M. Brunet).

2010. Paleocene Hapalodectes (Mammalia: Mesonychia) from Subeng, Inner Mongolia: Further evidence of “East of Eden” dispersal at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary. Vertebrata PalAsiatica 48: 375-389 (K. C. Beard, Y. Wang, J. Meng, X. Ni, D. L. Gebo, and C. Li).

2010. The phylogenetic affinities of the Pondaung tali. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 143: 223-234 (M. Dagosto, L. Marivaux, D. L. Gebo, K. C. Beard, Y. Chaimanee, J.-J. Jaeger, B. Marandat, Aung Naing Soe, and Aung Aung Kyaw).

2010. Talar morphology, phylogenetic affinities and locomotor adaptation of a large-bodied amphipithecid primate from the late middle Eocene of Myanmar. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 143: 208-222 (L. Marivaux, K. C. Beard, Y. Chaimanee, M. Dagosto, D. L. Gebo, F. Guy, B. Marandat, Kyaw Khaing, Aung Aung Kyaw, Myo Oo, Chit Sein, Aung Naing Soe, Myat Swe, and J.-J. Jaeger).

2010. A new tarkadectine primate from the Eocene of Inner Mongolia, China: Phylogenetic and biogeographic implications. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 277: 247-256 (X. Ni, J. Meng, K. C. Beard, D. L. Gebo, Y. Wang, and C. Li).

2009. A new species of Gomphos (Glires, Mammalia) from the Eocene of the Erlian Basin, Nei Mongol, China. American Museum Novitates 3670: 1-11 (J. Meng, B. P. Kraatz, Y. Wang, X. Ni, D. L. Gebo, and K. C. Beard).

2009. Early Wasatchian mammals of the Red Hot local fauna, uppermost Tuscahoma Formation, Lauderdale County, Mississippi. Annals of Carnegie Museum 78: 193-243 (K. C. Beard and M. R. Dawson).

2009. A new primate from the Eocene Pondaung Formation of Myanmar and the monophyly of Burmese amphipithecids. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276: 3285-3294 (K. C. Beard, L. Marivaux, Y. Chaimanee, J.-J. Jaeger, B. Marandat, P. Tafforeau, Aung Naing Soe, Soe Thura Tun and Aung Aung Kyaw).

2008. New primate hind limb elements from the middle Eocene of China. Journal of Human Evolution 55: 999-1014 (D. L. Gebo, M. Dagosto, K. C. Beard, and X. Ni).

2008. Middle Eocene artiodactyls from Shanghuang (Jiangsu Province, coastal China) and the diversity of basal dichobunoids in Asia. Naturwissenschaften 95: 1121-1135 (G. Métais, T. Qi, J. Guo, and K. C. Beard).

2008. Proximal femoral anatomy of a sivaladapid primate from the late middle Eocene Pondaung Formation (central Myanmar).  American Journal of Physical Anthropology 137: 263-273 (L. Marivaux, K. C. Beard, Y. Chaimanee, J.-J. Jaeger, B. Marandat, Aung Naing Soe, Soe Thura Tun, and Aung Aung Kyaw).

2008. A new early Eocene arctostylopid (Arctostylopida, Mammalia) from the Erlian Basin, Nei Mongol (Inner Mongolia), China. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 28: 553-558 (Y. Wang, J. Meng, X. Ni, and K. C. Beard).

2008. Reply to Gingerich et al.: Oldest North American primate. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105: E31.

2008. Primate tibiae from the middle Eocene Shanghuang fissure-fillings of eastern China. In: Mammalian Evolutionary Morphology: A Tribute to Frederick S. Szalay (E. J. Sargis and M. Dagosto, eds.), pp. 315-324. Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands. (M. Dagosto, D. L. Gebo, X. Ni, T. Qi, and K. C. Beard).

2008. First myliobatiform teeth (Elasmobranchii, Neoselachii) from the Pondaung Formation (late middle Eocene) of central Myanmar. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie Abhandlungen 247: 335-340 (S. Adnet, H. Capetta, K. C. Beard, L. Marivaux, B. Marandat, Y. Chaimanee, J.-J. Jaeger, Soe Thura Tun, and Aung Naing Soe).

2008. The oldest North American primate and mammalian biogeography during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105: 3815-3818.

Awards & Honors

MacArthur Fellowship, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (2000)
Phi Beta Kappa Society Science Book Award for The Hunt for the Dawn Monkey (2005)
W.W. Howells Book Award for The Hunt for the Dawn Monkey, Biological Anthropology Section, American Anthropological Association (2005)

Grants & Other Funded Activity

National Science Foundation BCS 1157142 (2012) “Into Africa: The Initial Colonization of Africa by Early Cenozoic Anthropoids,” $384,119.

National Science Foundation BCS 0820602 (2008) “Collaborative Research: Paleontological Investigation of Early Primate Evolution in Asia,” $173,212.

National Science Foundation DBI 0821644 (2008) “Acquisition of a Variable Pressure SEM to enable Research, Education, and Services at Carnegie Museum of Natural History,” $280,000 (Co-PI with J.E. Rawlins, J.R. Wible, K. Handron, and S.L. Olsen).

United States Department of the Interior: Save America’s Treasures Program (2005) “Vertebrate Paleontology Collection of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History,” $450,000 (Co-PI with B. DeWalt, B. Hamann).

National Science Foundation BCS 0309800 (2003) “Investigating the Origin and Early Evolution of Primates in Asia,” $267,002 (Co-PI with J. Meng).

National Science Foundation DEB 0073414 (2000) “SGER: Salvaging a Unique Early Eocene Biota from the Gulf Coastal Plain of Mississippi,” $60,001.


American Association of Physical Anthropologists
Society for the Study of Mammalian Evolution
Society of Vertebrate Paleontology