Alan Walker (anthropologist)

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Alan Walker
Born Alan Cyril Walker
(1938-08-23)23 August 1938
Leicester, England
Died 20 November 2017(2017-11-20) (aged 79)
Residence United States
Alma mater University of Cambridge,
University of London
Known for Fossil discoveries in Kenya
Scientific career
Fields Paleontology
Thesis Locomotor adaptations in living and extinct Madagascan lemurs
Influences John R. Napier, Louis Leakey and Phillip Tobias

Alan Walker (23 August 1938 – 20 November 2017)[1][2] was the Evan Pugh Professor of Biological Anthropology and Biology at the Pennsylvania State University and a research scientist for the National Museum of Kenya.[3] He received his B.A. from Cambridge University in 1962, and his PhD from the University of London in 1967. In 2000 he received an honorary D.Sc. from the University of Chicago.[4]

Walker was a paleoanthropologist who worked on primate and human evolution.[5]

Walker was a member of the team led by Richard Leakey responsible for the 1984 discovery of the skeleton of the so-called Turkana Boy,[6] and in 1985 Walker himself discovered the Black Skull[7][8] near Lake Turkana in Kenya.


Walker was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship "genius grant" in 1988.[9][3] In 1997 he received the Rhône-Poulenc Award from the Royal Society for The Wisdom of the Bones. During the award ceremony, Terry Pratchett, chairman of the judges, said "We were fascinated by the way the forensic net was spread out, bringing so many sciences to bear on the mystery of this million-year-old teenager." The following year he received the International Fondation Fyssen Prize in Paris.[10]

He became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1996,[11] and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1999.[12] In 2003 he was named a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences.[13][14]

In 2017 he received the Charles R. Darwin Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.[15]


  • 1996 (with Pat Shipman). The Wisdom of Bones. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London.
  • 1993 (with Richard Leakey) eds. The Nariokotome Homo erectus Skeleton. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.
  • 1997 (with Meave Leakey). Early Hominid Fossils from Africa. Scientific American 276, 6, 74–79 [2]
  • 2005. The Ape in the Tree: An Intellectual and Natural History of Proconsul. The Belknap Press of Harvard UP, Cambridge, Mass.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 April 2005. Retrieved 22 June 2005.
  2. ^ "Alan Walker dies". NCSE. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  3. ^ a b Teltsch, Kathleen (19 July 1988). "MacArthur Foundation Names 31 Recipients of 1988 Awards". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2017-09-24. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  4. ^ "Honorary Degrees 2000–2009". University of Chicago. Archived from the original on 2017-08-08. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  5. ^ Alan Walker's page at Pennsylvania State University Archived 12 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "Leaving home – 2 million years ago". 17 September 2014. Archived from the original on 2017-10-01. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Wayman, Erin (18 April 2012). "The Top Seven Human Evolution Discoveries in Kenya". Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  9. ^ "Fellows List – August 1988". MacArthur Foundation. Archived from the original on 12 February 2010. Retrieved 7 December 2006.
  10. ^ "International Prize". Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in the Eberly College of Science". Pennsylvania State University. Archived from the original on 2017-02-10. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  12. ^ "Alan Walker Biography". Royal Society. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  13. ^ "National Academy of Science" (Press release).
  14. ^ "Member Directory". National Academy of Science. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  15. ^ "The Charles R. Darwin Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017: Alan Walker". American Association of Physical Anthropologists. 18 January 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-06-28. Retrieved 22 November 2017.

External links[edit]