Milford H. Wolpoff

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Milford H. Wolpoff (born 1942 to Ruth (Silver) and Ben Wolpoff, Chicago) is a paleoanthropologist, and since 1977, a professor of anthropology and adjunct associate research scientist, Museum of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. He is the leading proponent of the multiregional evolution hypothesis that attempts to explain the evolution of Homo sapiens as a consequence of evolutionary processes within a single species. He is the author of Paleoanthropology, 1980 and 1999 editions with McGraw-Hill, New York. ISBN 0-07-071676-5), and the co-author (with Rachel Caspari) of Race and Human Evolution: A Fatal Attraction (ISBN 0-684-81013-1), which reviews the scientific evidence and conflicting theories about how human evolution has been interpreted, and how its interpretation is related to views about race.

His research on the Multiregional model of human evolution challenges the 'Out of Africa' theory. His basis for advancing the multiregional interpretation of human evolution derives from his disbelief in punctuated equilibrium (the idea that changes occur when new species are formed and only rarely are slowly and gradually accumulated during the stable periods between speciations) as an accurate model for Pleistocene humanity, noting that speciation played a role earlier in human evolution.



Wolpoff received an A.B. in 1964 and a Ph.D., both in anthropology, from the University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois. His research advisor and intellectual mentor was Eugene Giles.


Wolpoff is a paleoanthropologist, an anthropologist who studies the human past. Wolpoff was trained at the University of Illinois, as a student of Eugene Giles and a product of an aggressively 4-field department. Beyond anthropology, his training has been in physics and evolutionary biology and ecology. He brings to the study of the human and non-human primate fossil record a background that combines evolutionary theory, population genetics, and biomechanics.

With over 50 grants funded by the National Science Foundation, National Academy of Sciences, and the University of Michigan, Wolpoff has visited the museums where human and primate fossils are stored and has studied in detail and at length all the materials addressing the fossil evidence for human evolution across Europe, Asia, and Africa. His research foci have included the evolution and fate of the European Neandertals, the role of culture in early hominid evolution, the nature and explanation of allometry, robust australopithecine evolution, the distribution and explanation of sexual dimorphism, hominid origins, the pattern and explanation of Australasian hominid evolution, the contributions and role of genetics in paleoanthropological research, and the taxonomy of the genus Homo. In addition, he is a primary describer of many hominid fossil remains.

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