Kevin Hatala

Kevin G. Hatala

Assistant Research Professor (GW); Junior Scientist (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)
[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

Human anatomy; Biomechanics; Locomotion; Human evolution

I am a paleoanthropologist with research interests centered on the evolution of human anatomy and locomotion, including how they were influenced by changes in ecology and behavior throughout our evolutionary history. Much of my research to date has focused on fossil human footprints, and the unique information that they can tell us about the anatomy and behavior of our extinct relatives.

In my research, I use a variety of experimental methods to study locomotion in modern humans and nonhuman primates in order to better understand how our anatomies influence the ways that we move. I also conduct paleontological fieldwork in northern Kenya, to search for and uncover fossil human skeletal material and footprints that will advance our understanding of human evolutionary history.

Current Research

I am currently a National Science Foundation Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Fellow. My postdoctoral research fellowship is aimed at developing new methods that can be used to extract anatomical and functional data from footprints in the human fossil record. My approach combines ongoing paleontological excavations of fossil hominin footprint sites in Kenya with laboratory experimental projects aimed at modeling the ways in which locomotion is recorded in footprints. I am carrying out my postdoctoral research in collaboration with a variety of paleoanthropologists, evolutionary biologists, and computer scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, the American Museum of Natural History, Brown University, and the University of Colorado-Boulder.


Ph.D. 2014, The George Washington University
B.S. 2009, Duke University


Journal Articles:

Hatala KG, Wunderlich RE, Dingwall HL, Richmond BG. (In review) Interpreting locomotor biomechanics from the morphology of human footprints. In review with the Journal of Human Evolution.

Grabowski MW, Hatala KG, Jungers WL, Richmond BG. (Accepted) Body mass estimates of hominin fossils and the evolution of human body size. Journal of Human Evolution.

Hatala KG, Dingwall HL, Wunderlich RE, Richmond BG. 2013. The relationship between plantar pressure and footprint shape. Journal of Human Evolution 65(1): 21-28.

Hatala KG, Dingwall HL, Wunderlich RE, Richmond BG. 2013. Variation in foot strike patterns during running among habitually barefoot populations. PLoS One 8 (1): e52548.

Dingwall HL, Hatala KG, Wunderlich RE, Richmond BG. 2013. Hominin stature, body mass, and walking speed estimates based on 1.5 million-year-old fossil footprints at Ileret, Kenya. Journal of Human Evolution 64(6): 556-568.


Book Chapters:

Richmond BG, Hatala KG. 2013. Origin and evolution of human postcranial anatomy. In: A Companion to Paleoanthropology, Begun D (ed.), Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 183-202.