Peter S. Ungar (born May 4, 1963) is an American paleoanthropologist and evolutionary biologist.

Peter Ungar
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Hadza water testing
Born (1963-05-04) May 4, 1963 (age 59)
Alma materBinghamton University
Stony Brook University Ph.D.
Known forReconstructing the diets of human ancestors
AwardsAmerican Academy of Arts and Sciences Membership, Southeastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award, Fulbright Foundation Specialist Awards to South Africa and to Finland, American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellowship, Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars Membership
Scientific career
FieldsPaleoanthropology, evolutionary biology
InstitutionsUniversity of Arkansas
Duke University
Johns Hopkins University
ThesisIncisor Microwear and Feeding Behavior of Four Sumatran Anthropoids (1992)
Doctoral advisorFrederick Grine
Richard Kay (postdoc)
Alan Walker (postdoc)


Peter S. Ungar is Distinguished Professor and Director of the Environmental Dynamics Program at the University of Arkansas. Before arriving at Arkansas, he taught at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Duke University Medical Center.

Ungar is known primarily for his work on the role of diet in human evolution.[1][2][3][4] He has spent thousands of hours observing wild apes and other primates in the rainforests of Latin America and Southeast Asia, studied fossils from tyrannosaurids to Neandertals, documented oral health of the Hadza Hunter-Gatherers of Tanzania, and developed new techniques for using advanced surface analysis technologies to tease information about diet from tooth shape and patterns of use wear.[5][6][7]

Ungar has written or coauthored more than 200 scientific works on ecology and evolution for books and journals including Nature, Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.[8] These have focused on food choices and feeding in living primates, and the role of diet in the evolution of human ancestors and other fossil species.[9] His book Mammal Teeth: Origin, Evolution and Diversity[10] won the PROSE Award for best book in the Biological Sciences, and he edited Evolution of the Human Diet: The Known, the Unknown and the Unknowable and coedited Human Diet: Its Origins and Evolution.[11] His forays into popular science writing include [12] Teeth: A Very Short Introduction, and his most recent trade book,[13] Evolution's Bite: A Story about Teeth, Diet, and Human Origins.

Ungar's work has been featured in hundreds of electronic, print, and broadcast media outlets, and he appeared recently in documentaries on the Discovery Channel, BBC Television, and the Science Channel.

Selected publicationsEdit


  • Ungar, P.S. Evolution's Bite: A Story of Teeth, Diet, and Human Origins. 2017. ISBN 9781400884759
  • Ungar, P.S. Teeth: A Very Short Introduction. 2014. ISBN 9780199670598
  • Ungar, P.S. Mammal Teeth: Origin, Evolution, and Diversity. 2010. ISBN 9780801896682


  1. ^ "Researchers' Findings Challenge Conventional Ideas on Evolution of Human Diet, Natural Selection". Archived from the original on 2008-07-25. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  2. ^ Melissa Lutz Blouin (9 May 2008). "Teeth Offer Clues to Human Diet Evolution". Live Science. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  3. ^ "News - Video - Peter Ungar describes how pits and scratches on teeth leave clues about early human ancestor diet. - NSF - National Science Foundation". Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  4. ^ "Dental Analytics Describe Evolution of Human Diet - Newswise: News for Journalists". Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  5. ^ Scott, R.S.; Ungar, P.S.; Bergstrom, T.S.; Brown, C.A.; Grine, F.E.; Teaford, M.F.; Walker, A. Dental microwear texture analysis reflects diets of living primates and fossil hominins. Nature, 436: 693-695, 2005.
  6. ^ Ungar, Peter S. (2006). "Quantification of Dental Microwear by Tandem Scanning Confocal Microscopy and Scale-Sensitive Fractal Analyses". Scanning. 25 (4): 185–193. doi:10.1002/sca.4950250405. PMID 12926610.
  7. ^ "Novel Technique Offers New Look at Ancient Diets — Eberly College of Science". Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  8. ^ "- Royal Society". Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  9. ^ "Ancient". Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  10. ^ "Mammal Teeth - Johns Hopkins University Press Books". Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  11. ^ "Evolution of the Human Diet: The Known, the Unknown, and the Unknowable". Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 2011-06-29. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  12. ^ Teeth: A Very Short Introduction. Very Short Introductions. Oxford University Press. 1 April 2014. ISBN 978-0-19-967059-8. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  13. ^ "Evolution's Bite". Princeton University Press. Retrieved 29 April 2019.

External linksEdit