C. Loring Brace

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C. Loring Brace
Born(1930-12-19)December 19, 1930
DiedSeptember 7, 2019(2019-09-07) (aged 88)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Alma materHarvard University
Scientific career
FieldsPhysical Anthropology
InstitutionsUniversity of Michigan
ThesisPhysique, Physiology and Behavior: An Attempt to Analyse a Part of their Roles in the Canine Biogram. (1961)
Doctoral advisorWilliam W. Howells

Charles Loring Brace IV (December 19, 1930 – September 7, 2019)[1] was an American anthropologist, Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan's Department of Anthropology and Curator Emeritus at the University's Museum of Anthropological Archaeology. He considered the attempt "to introduce a Darwinian outlook into biological anthropology" to be his greatest contribution to the field of anthropology.[2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Brace was born Charles Loring Brace IV in Hanover, New Hampshire in 1930, a son of writer, sailor, boat builder and teacher, Gerald Warner Brace and Hulda Potter Laird. His ancestors were New England schoolteachers and clergymen including John P. Brace, Sarah Pierce, and the Rev. Blackleach Burritt. Brace's paternal great-grandfather, Charles Loring Brace, founder of the Children's Aid Society, had worked to introduce evolutionary theory into the United States and knew Charles Darwin. C. Loring Brace developed an early interest in biology and human evolution as a child in part by reading Roy Chapman Andrews's popular book Meet your Ancestors, A Biography of Primitive Man (1945). He went to Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts from 1948–52, where he constructed his own major from geology, paleontology, and biology courses.

Brace was drafted by the U.S. Army during the Korean War and while in the service, worked with the fitting of gas masks so that they would be able to fit a variety of different people.[4][which?] He received a masters (1958) and doctorate (1962) from Harvard University and studied physical anthropology with Ernest Hooton and later with William W. Howells, who introduced Brace to the new evolutionary synthesis of Darwinian evolution and population genetics. During this time he was also able to travel to Europe, where he spent 1959-1960 at Oxford University, in the animal behavior laboratory of Nikolaas Tinbergen, and traveled to Zagreb, Yugoslavia, where he inspected the collection of Neanderthal fossils collected by Dragutin Gorjanovic-Kramberger at Krapina.

After completing his doctorate, he taught briefly at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and then at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He spent much of his career as Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan and as Curator of Biological Anthropology at the university's Museum of Anthropology.


Neanderthal studies[edit]

In 1962, Brace published a paper in American Anthropologist titled "Refocusing on the Neanderthal Problem" where he argued, in opposition to French anthropologist Henri Vallois, that the archeological and fossil evidence did not necessarily support the idea that the Neanderthals were replaced by Cro-Magnon populations migrating into Europe, rather than being ancestral to early Homo sapiens.

Brace continued his reappraisal of the Neanderthal problem in 1964 in "The Fate of the 'Classic' Neanderthals: a consideration of hominid catastrophism" published in Current Anthropology. Here Brace traced the history of research on the Neanderthals in order to show how interpretations established early in the century by Marcellin Boule and notions such as Arthur Keith's pre-sapiens theory had convinced many anthropologists that the Neanderthals played little or no role in the evolution of modern humans. Brace argued that cultural factors, especially the increased use of tools by Neanderthals, produced morphological changes that led the classic Neanderthals to evolve into modern humans.

Brace remained a vigorous proponent of the idea that Neanderthals are ancestral to modern humans. He also argued that the fossil record suggests a simple evolutionary scheme whereby humans have evolved through four stages (Australopithecine, Pithecanthropine, Neanderthal, and Modern humans),[5] and that these stages are somewhat arbitrary and reflect our limited knowledge of the fossil record. Brace emphasized the need to integrate the ideas of Darwinian evolution into palaeoanthropology. Much earlier research into human origins relied on non-Darwinian models of evolution; Brace presented his advocacy of the Darwinian approach in The Stages Of Human Evolution, first published in 1967.

Brace's ideas generated considerable controversy[citation needed], as much for his brash criticism of his colleagues as for their content, but they have also influenced a generation of anthropological research into human evolution and the interpretation of the Neanderthals.

Other studies[edit]

In the publication "Clines and clusters versus Race: a test in ancient Egypt and the case of a death on the Nile", Brace discussed the controversy concerning the race of the Ancient Egyptians. Brace argued that the "Egyptians have been in place since back in the Pleistocene and have been largely unaffected by either invasions or migrations".[6] However, the study was criticised by biological anthropologist, S.O.Y. Keita for excluding “the Maghreb, Sudan, and the Horn of Africa” from the designated Sub-Saharan group samples which he argued was nearly categorised and “(incorrectly)” as monolithic”. He further commented on the findings of Boyce that whilst the “post-Badarian southern predynastic and a late dynastic northern series (called “E” or Gizeh) cluster together, and secondarily with Europeans”, the remains which represented populations from ancient Sudan and recent Somalia had primarily clustered with the Egyptian groups.[7]

In a 2006 publication "The questionable contribution of the Neolithic and the Bronze Age to European craniofacial form", Brace argued that Natufian peoples, who are thought to be the source of the European Neolithic, had Sub-Saharan African admixture, but that "the interbreeding of the incoming Neolithic people with the in situ foragers diluted the Sub-Saharan traces that may have come with the Neolithic spread so that no discoverable element of that remained."[8]

Past Ph.D. students (alphabetical order)[edit]

  • Patricia S. Bridges (1985)
  • Dean Falk (1976)
  • Sonia E. Guillen (1992)
  • Margaret E. Hamilton (1975)
  • Robert J. Hinton (1979)
  • Kevin D. Hunt (1989)
  • Carol J. Lauer (1976)
  • Paul E. Mahler (1973)
  • Stephen Molnar (1968)
  • A. Russell Nelson (1998)
  • Conrad B. Quintyn (1999)
  • Karen R. Rosenberg (1986)
  • Alan S. Ryan (1980)
  • Margaret J. Schoeninger (1980)
  • Noriko Seguchi (2000)
  • B. Holly Smith (1983)
  • Frank Spencer (1979)
  • Kenneth M. Weiss (1972)
  • Richard G. Wilkinson (1970)
  • Lucia Allen Yaroch (1994)


  • Man's Evolution: An Introduction to Physical Anthropology (1965)
  • The Stages Of Human Evolution: Human And Cultural Origins (1967)
  • Atlas of Fossil Man. C. Loring Brace, Harry Nelson, and Noel Korn (1971)
  • Race and Intelligence. Edited by C. Loring Brace, George R. Gamble, and James T. Bond. Washington: American Anthropological Association, 1971.
  • Man In Evolutionary Perspective. Compiled by C. Loring Brace and James Metress (1973)
  • Human Evolution: An Introduction to Biological Anthropology. C. L. Brace and Ashley Montagu (1977)
  • Atlas of Human Evolution (1979)
  • The Stages Of Human Evolution: Human And Cultural Origins (1979)
  • Evolution in an anthropological view (2000)
  • Race is a four letter word (2005)


  1. ^ Dean Falk, Noriko Seguchi (2006). "Professor C. Loring Brace: Bringing Physical Anthropology ("Kicking and Screaming") Into the 21st Century!". Michigan Discussions in Anthropology. hdl:2027/spo.0522508.0016.108.
  2. ^ Minnesota State University. "Brace, C. Loring". E-Museum. Archived from the original on 2006-08-31.
  3. ^ "Anthropology Professor, C. Loring Brace, passed away on September 7, 2019". University of Michigan. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  4. ^ Ferrie, Helke (1997). An Interview with C. Loring Brace. Current Anthropology. p. 853. I was part of the gas-mask fitting program, which turned out to be very useful later in my anthropological work.
  5. ^ Bryson, Bill (2004). A Short History of Nearly Everything (1st (paperback) ed.). New York, NY: Broadway Books, Random House, Inc. p. 449. ISBN 0-7679-0818-X. Indeed, as recently as 1991, in the popular textbook The Stages of [Human] Evolution, C. Loring Brace stuck doggedly to the linear concept [for hominid evolution], acknowledging just one evolutionary dead end, the robust australopithecines. Everything else represented a straightforward progression—each species of hominid carrying the baton of development so far, then handing it on to a younger, fresher runner. Now, however, it seems certain that many of these early forms followed side trails that didn't come to anything.
  6. ^ Brace, C. Loring; Tracer, David P.; Yaroch, Lucia Allen; Robb, John; Brandt, Kari; Nelson, A. Russell (2005), "Clines and clusters versus 'Race': a test in ancient Egypt and the case of a death on the Nile", American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 36 (S17): 1–31, doi:10.1002/ajpa.1330360603
  7. ^ Keita, S. O. Y. (November 2005). "Early Nile Valley Farmers From El-Badari: Aboriginals or "European"AgroNostratic Immigrants? Craniometric Affinities Considered With Other Data". Journal of Black Studies. 36 (2): 191–208. doi:10.1177/0021934704265912. ISSN 0021-9347. S2CID 144482802.
  8. ^ Brace, C. Loring; Seguchi, Noriko; Quintyn, Conrad B.; Fox, Sherry C.; Nelson, A. Russell; Manolis, Sotiris K.; Qifeng, Pan (2006), "The questionable contribution of the Neolithic and the Bronze Age to European craniofacial form", PNAS, 103 (1): 242–247, Bibcode:2006PNAS..103..242B, doi:10.1073/pnas.0509801102, PMC 1325007, PMID 16371462

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