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Hillard Kaplan

Professor Hillard Kaplan began his appointment in the Department of Anthropolgoy at UNM in 1997. His research examines the evolution of the human life course. This work has at various times focused on food sharing, fertility decisions, parental investment, sex roles, subsistence behavior, intelligence, and lifespan.

Kaplan’s empirical work draws on fieldwork with a number of populations including the Ache (Paraguay), Mashco-Piro (Peru), Yora/Yaminahua (Peru), Machiguenga (Peru), and Xhosa (South Africa). His past work on fertility and parental investment has also drawn on a data collected from men living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He currently directs the Tsimane Health and Life History Project with Michael Gurven (UC Santa Barbara).

The UNM-UCSB Tsimane Health and Life History Project is a joint health and anthropology project aimed at understanding the impacts of ecology and evolution on the shaping of the human life course. The project focuses on health, growth and development, aging, economics and biodemography of small-scale populations of hunter-gatherers and horticulturalists. It also combines biomedical and anthropological research with medical attention among Tsimane, an indigenous forager-farming group living in central lowland Bolivia in the Beni Department. Research with the Tsimane of Amazonian Bolivia began in 2001 under the joint directorship of Michael Gurven (Anthropology, University of California Santa Barbara) and Hillard Kaplan (Anthropology, University of New Mexico).


  • PhD in Anthropology, University of Utah (1983)
  • MA in Anthropology, Columbia University (1983)
  • MA in Communications, University of Pennsylvania (1980)
  • BA in English, McGill University (1975)

Research Areas

  • Bio-Demography
  • Evolution of Cooperation
  • Human Behavioral Ecology
  • Indigenous Health / Epidemiology
  • Life History Theory
  • Parental Investment / Time Allocation

Country Specialization(s)

  • Bolivia
  • Paraguay
  • Peru