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Alan Shabel
Barnosky Lab

Alan Shabel


Phone: (510) 642-5318

Research Interests: “My work is focused at the intersection of paleontology, modern ecology and anthropology. I want to reconstruct the ecological and faunal context of human emergence during the Plio-Pleistocene. Current evidence shows that Paranthropus arose about 2.6 million years ago, and Homo appeared soon after. These two hominids lived together in the same habitats for over one million years. How did two such closely related organisms coexist on the same landscape for so long?”

Why This Topic? “As an undergraduate at Dartmouth, I was introduced to the science of ecology, and I studied forest succession in northern New Hampshire. After a semester of research in Central America and the Caribbean, I became more interested in vertebrate ecology, and in the tropics. After graduating, I studied community ecology in lakeshore settings in the African Rift Valley. It quickly became clear that hominids were fundamental players on the African landscape, and that in order to understand present-day issues, I had to understand human history."

On museum resources: “Berkeley is the ideal place for integrative investigations into the past. The resources of the Berkeley Natural History Museums are unparalleled among universities in the United States, with collections that sample from the entire world’s biota, at all levels, across a very long period of time. My current work draws on the material in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology and the UCMP. These museums provide an ample set of resources for anyone interested in the ecological context of early human evolution.”


Bibi, F., A.B. Shabel, B.P. Kraatz, and T.A. Stidham. 2006. New fossil ratite (Aves: Palaeognathae) eggshell discoveries from the Late Miocene Baynunah Formation of the United Arab Emirates, Arabian Peninsula. Palaeontologia Electronica 9(1):1-13.

Barnosky, A.D., and A.B. Shabel. 2005. Comparison of mammalian species richness and community structure in historic and mid-Pleistocene times in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 56(Supp. I, no. 5):50-61.  Read it

Martínez-Navarro, B., A. Claret, A.B. Shabel, J.A. Pérez-Claros, C. Lorenzo, and P. Palmqvist. 2005. Early Pleistocene “hominid remains” from southern Spain and the taxonomic assignment of the Cueva Victoria phalanx. Journal of Human Evolution 48(5):517-523.