Skip to main content

Professor Robert Barton


Professor in the Department of Anthropology
Associate Fellow in the Institute of Advanced Study



Evolutionary biologist/anthropologist interested in brains, behaviour and cognition, using phylogenetoic comparative methods to study how these traits evolved. Developed and tested the 'Visual brain hypothesis' for primate brain size evolution. Currently interested in the underestimated role of the cerebellum in brain evolution and cognition. Also works on the evolutionary and cultural significance of the colour red.

Recent projects include: 'The Phylogeny of Sleep' (funded by NIH, $1m); 'Evolutionary architecture of reproduction in female mammals' (funded by BBSRC/NERC, £248k); 'Cognitive Evolution and the brain' (Funded by a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship, £38k).

    • 2018: Osman Hill Memorial medal awarded by Primate Society of Great Britain:
    • Leverhulme Research Fellow (2012-13) - Cognitive evolution and the brain
    • Visting Research Fellow, All Souls Collge Oxford (2011) - Evolution of human cognition
    • President, European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association (2010-2013)
    • Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology (2005-)
    • President, Primate Society of Great Britain (2001-2005)
    • PhD in Primate Behavioural Ecology (1990)

    Research interests

    • Behavioural ecology and sociobiology
    • Evolution of mamalian reproductive traits
    • Primate evolution and behaviour
    • Brain evolution
    • Cognitive evolution

    Esteem Indicators


    Chapter in book

    Edited book

    Journal Article