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Tom Plummer

Photo of Tom Plummer

Tom Plummer is a Professor in the Anthropology Department at Queens College, City University of New York, and a member of the CUNY graduate faculty and the New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology.  His research broadly focuses on late Pliocene and early Pleistocene hominin behavior and ecology, with a special interest in exploring the adaptive significance of Oldowan stone tools.  He co-directs field research on the Homa Peninsula, Kenya with Richard Potts, where Plummer is focusing on late Pliocene and Pleistocene archeological and paleontological sites.  Much of this research has centered on the excavation of the 2-million-year-old Oldowan archeological occurrence at Kanjera South.  There, hominin activities were carried out in an open habitat within an early grassland dominated ecosystem.  Hominins had a sophisticated understanding of stone quality, and differentially utilized and transported high quality raw materials for tool production.  Evidence for the butchery of small antelope carcasses on-site may provide the oldest documentation of hunting in the fossil record.  Artifact use-wear analysis demonstrates that hominins were processing carcasses, cutting and scraping wood, possibly to make tools, and processing another important food resource, starch-rich tubers.  These data suggest that stone tools were an important, perhaps critical, component of the foraging ecology of hominins by 2 million years ago.  Recently, Plummer and colleagues have begun excavating Oldowan sites that are older (Nyayanga) and younger (Sare River) than Kanjera South.  This new phase of research will develop the record of Oldowan hominin activities through time on the Homa Peninsula, and will provide robust datasets for comparison with data from Oldowan sites excavated elsewhere.

Plummer, T.W. & L. Bishop (2016)  Oldowan hominin behavior and ecology at Kanjera South, Kenya.  Journal of Anthropological Sciences 94: 29-40.

O’Brien, H.D., Faith, J.T., Jenkins, K.E., Peppe, D.J., Plummer, T.W., Jacobs, Z.L., Li, B., Joannes-Boyau, R., Price, G., Feng, Y.X. & C.A. Tryon (2016). Unexpected Convergent Evolution of Nasal Domes between Pleistocene Bovids and Cretaceous Hadrosaur Dinosaurs. Current Biology 26:1-6.

Elton, S., Jansson, A. U., Meloro, C., Louys, J., Plummer, T., & L. C. Bishop (2016). Exploring morphological generality in the Old World monkey postcranium using an ecomorphological framework. Journal of Anatomy 228: 534-560.

Plummer, T. W., Ferraro, J. V., Louys, J., Hertel, F., Alemseged, Z., Bobe, R., & L. C. Bishop (2015). Bovid ecomorphology and hominin paleoenvironments of the Shungura Formation, lower Omo River Valley, Ethiopia. Journal of Human Evolution 88:108-126.

Parkinson, J.A., Plummer, T. W. & A. Hartstone-Rose (2015). Characterizing felid tooth marking and gross bone damage patterns using GIS image analysis: An experimental feeding study with large felids.  Journal of Human Evolution 80: 114-134.

Lemorini, C., Plummer, T.W., Braun, D., Crittenden, A., Marlowe, F., Bishop, L.C., Ditchfield, P., Hertel., F., Oliver, J., Schoeninger, M., & R. Potts (2014).  Old stones song: functional interpretation of the Oldowan quartz and quartzite assemblage from Kanjera South (Kenya).  Journal of Human Evolution 72: 10-25.

Parkinson, J.A., Plummer, T.W. & R. Bose (2014).  A GIS-based approach to documenting large canid damage to bones.  Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 409: 57-71.

Braun, D. R. & Plummer, T.W. (2013).  Oldowan Technology at Kanjera South: Technological Diversity on the Homa Peninsula. In: Sahnouni, M. (Ed) Africa: Cradle of Humanity: Recent Discoveries, CNRPAH, Algeria, pp. 131-145.

Ferraro, J.V., Plummer, T., Pobiner, B., Oliver, J.S., Bishop, L., Braun, D.R., Ditchfield, P.W., Seaman III, J.W.,  Binetti, K.M., Seaman Jr., J.W., Hertel, F. & R. Potts (2013).  Earliest Archaeological Evidence of Persistent Hominin Carnivory.  PLoS ONE 8(4): e62174, 1-10.

Louys, J., Montanari, S., Plummer, T., Hertel, F. & L.C. Bishop (2013).  Evolutionary divergence and convergence in shape and size within African antelope proximal phalanges.  Journal of Mammalian Evolution 20:239–248.

Plummer, T.W.  (2012).  The Hard Stuff of Culture: Oldowan Archaeology at Kanjera South, Kenya.  Popular Archaeology (online journal) 7:1-10.

Swedell, L. & T. W. Plummer (2012).  A Papionin Multi-Level Society as a Model for Early Hominin Evolution.  International Journal of Primatology 33:1165-1193.

Faith, J. T., Potts, R., Plummer, T. W., Bishop, L.C., Marean, C. W. & C. A. Tryon (2012).  New perspectives on middle Pleistocene change in the large mammal faunas of East Africa: Damaliscus hypsodon sp. nov. (Mammalia, Artiodactyla) from Lainyamok, Kenya.  Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology  361–362:  84–93

Bishop, L.C., Plummer, T.W., Hertel, F. & K. Kovarovic (2011).  Paleoenvironments of Laetoli, Tanzania as determined by antelope habitat preferences. In T. Harrison (ed.) Paleontology and Geology of Laetoli: Human Evolution in Context. Vol. 2: Fossil Hominins and the Associated Fauna, Springer. pp. 355-366.