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Department of Anthropology

Jim Ahern
Professor and Chair
Biological Anthropology

B.A. 1991, Beloit College
M.A. 1993, Northern Illinois University
Ph.D. 1998, University of Michigan • (307) 223-2164 • Anthropology Bldg 118 (office) & 345 (lab)

The main question that drives Dr. Ahern's research and teaching is: "What do we really know?" In other words, he is interested in tackling long-held assumptions and narrowing the possible explanations that we can derive from the limited dataset that represents the past. Influenced by this philosophy, Jim's research has covered many aspects of human biological and biocultural evolution, ranging from work on the origin of the hominin lineage to the peopling of the Americas. Much of Jim's current research focuses on the complex biocultural dynamics that coincided with the Neandertal modern human transition in Central Europe. Jim teaches a variety of courses in biological anthropology. He structures his teaching methods within a larger set of educational goals drawn from a student-centered core philosophy. Dr. Ahern has won many awards for his teaching including the Beatrice Gallatin Beuf Golden Apple of the Hesperides Award for Outstanding Freshman Teaching and the College of Arts and Sciences Extraordinary Merit Award for Teaching.


Courses Taught:

ANTH 1100          Introduction to Biological Anthropology pdf

ANTH 4215/5215  Evolution and Hominid Fossils pdf

ANTH 4220          Human Variation

ANTH 4020          Seminar: Neandertals

ANTH 5890         Teaching in Anthropology


Recent/ Selected Publications:

Smith FH and Ahern JCM (editors). 2013. The Origins of Modern Humans: Biology Reconsidered. Wiley-Blackwell. website

Ahern JCM, Janković I, Voisin J-L and Smith FH. 2013. Modern human origins in Central Europe. In Smith FH and Ahern JCM (eds.): The Origins of Modern Humans: Biology Reconsidered. Wiley-Blackwell.

Smith FH and Ahern JCM. 2013. Thoughts on modern human origins. In Smith FH and Ahern JCM (eds.): The Origins of Modern Humans: Biology Reconsidered. Wiley-Blackwell.

Janković I, Ahern JCM, Karavanić I, Stockton T, and Smith FH. 2012. Epigravettian human remains and artifacts from Šandalja II, Istria, Croatia. PaleoAnthropology. 2012: 87-122. pdf

Jankovic I, Karavanic I, Ahern JCM, Smith FH, Brajkovic D, and Lenardic JM. 2011. Archaeological, paleontological and genomic perspectives on late European Neandertals at Vindija Cave, Croatia. In S. Condemi (ed.): Neanderthals, Their Antecessors, and Contemporaries. Wiesbaden: Springer-Verlag.

Ahern JCM. 2008. Variation within the Krapina frontal sample and a descriptive note on the newly associated frontal specimen, Kr 27-28. In D. Frayer, A. Mann, and J. Monge (eds.): New Perspectives on the Krapina Neandertals. Zagreb: Hrvatski Prirodoslovni Muzej.

Kesterke MJ and Ahern JCM. 2007. Is the late Neandertal mandibular sample from Vindija Cave (Croatia) biased? Collegium Antropologicum. 31: 315-319. Link

Ahern JCM. 2006. Non-metric variation in recent humans as a model for understanding Neanderthal Early Modern Human Differences: Just how "unique" are Neanderthal unique traits? In K. Harvati and T. Harrison (eds.): Neanderthals Revisited: New Approaches and Perspectives. Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology book series (Delson E & MacPhee R, Series Eds.) New York: Kluwer. pdf

Ahern JCM, Hawks JD, and Lee S-H. 2005. Neanderthal taxonomy reconsidered . . . again: a response to Harvati et al (2004). Journal of Human Evolution. 48: 647-652. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2004.10.008 pdf

Ahern JCM. 2005. Hominid Fossils: An Interactive Atlas. Wadsworth, Inc. ISBN 0534638414. website

Ahern JCM. 2005. Foramen magnum position variation in Pan troglodytes, Homo sapiens, and Plio-Pleistocene hominids: implications for recognizing the earliest hominids. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 127: 267-276. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.20082 pdf


Jim on Academia.edu 

Research Interests:

Biological Anthropology, Human Paleontology, Paleolithic Archaeology, Biocultural Evolution, Europe, Africa, Neandertals and Modern Human Origins, Hominin Origins and Australopithecines, Systematics, Species Concepts


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James Ahern

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Phone: 307 766-5136


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