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Richard McElreath

Richard McElreath

Director, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Professor, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, 2001

Department of Anthropology
University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, California 95616, USA

Fax: (530) 752-8885


  1. I received my Bachelor's degree from Emory University and my graduate degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles. I did my dissertation research in Tanzania and held a post-doctoral position at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin before joining the faculty at Davis in 2002. I became a Director at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, in Leipzig, in 2015 and am no longer in residence at UC Davis.


Research Interests

I am an evolutionary ecologist who studies humans. My main interest is in how the evolution of fancy social learning in humans accounts for the unusual nature of human adaptation and extraordinary scale and variety of human societies. Humans are more widespread and successful than any other vertebrate. Simultaneously, humans are unlike any other animal in that we cooperate in very large groups of unrelated individuals. I and my colleagues use formal evolutionary models, experiments and ethnographic fieldwork to address these puzzles.

I also have strong interests in general evolutionary ecology, especially the evolution of social behavior.

Recent Publications

Full publication list

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Dept. of Anthropology

328 Young Hall
One Shields Ave.
University of California
Davis, Ca 95616-8522

Ph.  530-752-0745
Fax. 530-752-8885