Rick Potts

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Rick Potts
Rick Potts of the Smithsonian in his office.jpg
Potts displaying Oldowan stone choppers, roughly 2 million years old. These are the oldest hominin tools in the Smithsonian.
Scientific career
InstitutionsSmithsonian Institution Museum of Natural History

Richard B. Potts is a paleoanthropologist and has been the director of the Smithsonian Institution Museum of Natural History's Human Origins Program since 1985. He is the curator of the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins at the Smithsonian.[1]


Potts graduated from Temple University in his home town of Philadelphia.[2] In 1982 Potts received his doctorate in biological anthropology from Harvard University. Prior to joining the Smithsonian Institution he taught at Yale University and was its Peabody Museum of Natural History curator of Physical Anthropology.[1] He has been involved with early human excavation sites in Africa and Asia. His focus is on how human adaptation and evolution was in response to continuous changes in their environment over time.[1]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Potts, Rick; Chris Sloan (2010-03-09). What Does It Mean to Be Human?. Washington, D.C: National Geographic. ISBN 9781426206061.
  • Potts, Rick (1997-05-28). Humanity's Descent: The Consequences of Ecological Instability. William Morrow. ISBN 0380715236.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "The Smithsonian Institution's Human Origins Program – Rick Potts". 2010-01-29. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
  2. ^ Selig, Ruth Osterweis (Spring–Summer 1999). "Human Origins: One Man's Search for the Causes in Time". Anthro Notes Museum of Natural History Publication for Educators. Museum of Natural History. Retrieved October 17, 2014.