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James F. O'Connell

Distinguished Professor

Areas of Specialization

Hunter-gatherer ecology, archaeological method and theory; Australia, Africa, North America


My research interests fall under three headings. As an anthropologist, I have used models from evolutionary ecology in the analysis of variation in modern hunter-gatherer foraging and food sharing practices. My goal has been to identify the principal determinants of these practices and their implications for arguments about human evolution. As an ethnoarchaeologist, I have studied the relationship between modern hunter-gatherer behavior and its material consequences, focusing especially on factors that shape the composition and distribution of archaeological assemblages at various spatial scales. This line of work is essential to the application of ethnographic findings to problems in prehistory. As a prehistorian, I have employed the results of both lines of research in the study of three problems in human evolution: the Plio-Pleistocene origin of genus Homo, the Upper Pleistocene dispersal of Homo sapiens, and terminal Pleistocene development of broad-spectrum diets and agriculture.

I am currently working on two projects. One is a book-length review of the prehistory of Sahul (Pleistocene Australia-New Guinea), with special attention to problems of continental colonization, habitat modification, megafaunal extinctions, and economic intensification. My collaborator on this project is Emeritus Professor Jim Allen, La Trobe University, Melbourne. The second project involves field and laboratory research on the economic utility of geophytes (roots, tubers, corms) traditionally important to Native Americans in the northern Great Basin and southern Columbia Plateau. My collaborators are Research Assistant Professor Doug Bird, Stanford University, and grad students Lori Hunsaker, Josh Trammell, and Chris Parker, all in Anthropology here at the University of Utah.


Recent selected publications


O'Connell, J.F., and J. Allen The Restaurant at the End of the Universe: Modelling the Colonisation of Sahul . Australian Archaeology 74: 5-16.   Comments.


Faith, J. Tyler, and J.F. O'Connell.                                                                                 Revisiting the late Pleistocene mammal extinction record at Tight Entrance Cave, southwestern Australia. Quarternary Research (In Press).

O'Connell, J.F.                                                                                                          Remembering Lew Binford. Prepared for Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft fur Urgeschichte, Tubingen.


O'Connell, J.F., J. Allen, and K. Hawkes Pleistocene Sahul and the orgins of seafaring . In The Global Origins and Development of Seafaring, edited by A. Anderson, J. Barrett, and K. Boyle. Cambridge: The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge University.


Allen, J., and J.F. O'Connell
Getting from Sunda to Sahul. In Islands of Inquiry: colonization, seafaring and the archaeology of maritime landscapes, edited by G. Clark, F. Leach, and S. O'Connor, pp. 31-46. Canberra: ANU E Press, Australian National University.


O'Connell, J.F., and J. Allen.
Pre-LGM Sahul (Pleistocene Australia-New Guinea) and the archaeology of early modern humans. In Rethinking the Human Revolution, edited by P. Mellars, K. Boyle, O. Bar-Yosef & C. Stringer, pp. 395-410. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.


Bird, Douglas W. and James F. O'Connell.
Behavioral ecology and archaeology. Journal of Archaeological Research 14:143-188.

O'Connell, James F.
How did modern humans displace Neaderthals? Insights from hunter-gatherer ethnography and archaeology.In Neanderthals and modern humans meet? edited by N. Conard. Tubingen: Kerns Verlag (in press).


Hawkes, Kristen and James F. O'Connell
News and Views: How old is human longevity? Journal of Human Evolution 49:650-653.


O'Connell, James F. and F. James Allen.
Dating the colonization of Sahul (Pleistocene Australia-New Guinea): A review of recent research. Journal of Archaeological Science 31:835-853.


Allen, F. James and James F. O'Connell.
The long and the short of it: Archaeological approaches to determining when humans first colonised Australia and New Guinea. Australian Archaeology 57:5-19.

Hawkes, K., J. F. O'Connell & N. G. Blurton Jones
Human life histories: Primate tradeoffs, grandmothering socioecology, and the fossil record. In Primate Life Histories & Socioecology, edited by P. Kappeler and M. Pereira, pp 204-227. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Blurton Jones, N., Kristen Hawkes and James F. O'Connell.
Antiquity of postreproductive life: Are there modern impacts on hunter-gatherer postreproductive life spans? American Journal of Human Biology14:184-205.

Lupo, K. and J. F. O'Connell
Cut and tooth marks on large animal bones: Ethnoarchaeological data from the Hadza and their implications about early human carnivory. Journal of Archaeological Science 29(1):85-109

O'Connell, James F., Kristen Hawkes, Karen Lupo and N. G. Blurton Jones
Male strategies and Plio-Pleistocene archaeology. Journal of Human Evolution 43:831-872.


Hawkes, K., J. F. O'Connell and N. G. Blurton Jones
Hadza meat sharing. Evolution and Human Behavior 22(2001):113-142.

Hawkes, K., J. F. O'Connell, and N. G. Blurton Jones
Hadza hunting and the evolution of nuclear families. Current Anthropology 42:681-709.


Blurton Jones, N. G., F. Marlowe, K. Hawkes, and J. F. O'Connell
Hunter-gatherer divorce rates and the paternal provisioning theory of human monogamy. In Human Behavior and Adaptation: An Anthropological Perspective,edited by L. Cronk, N Chagnon and W. Irons, pp. 69-90. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.

Hawkes, K., J. F. O'Connell, N. G. Blurton Jones
Why do women have mid-life menopause? Grandmothering and the evolution of human longevity. In Female Reproductive Aging, edited by E. R. te Velde, P. L. Pearson and F. J. Broekmans, pp. 27-42. New York: Pantheon.

Hawkes, K., J. F. O'Connell, N. G. Blurton Jones, E. L. Charnov and H. Alvarez
The grandmother hypothesis and human evolution. In Human Behavior and Adaptation: An Anthropological Perspective, edited by L. Cronk, N Chagnon, and W. Irons, pp. 237-258. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Grutyer.

O'Connell, J. F.
An emu hunt. In Australian Archaeologist: Collected Papers in Honour of Jim Allen, edited by A. Anderson and T. Murray, pp. 172-181. Division of Archaeology and Natural History, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies. Canberra: Australian National University.


Blurton Jones, N. G., K. Hawkes, and J. F. O'Connell
Some current ideas about the evolution of human life history. In Comparative Primate Socioecology,edited by P. C. Lee, pp. 140-166. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

O'Connell, James F., Kristen Hawkes, and N.G. Blurton Jones
1999. Grandmothering and the evolution of Homo erectus. Journal of Human Evolution 36:461-485.

Broughton, J.M., and J.F. O'Connell
On evolutionary ecology, selectionist archaeology and behavioral archaeology. American Antiquity 64:153-165.

Hawkes, K., J. F. O'Connell, and N. G. Blurton Jones
Commentary: On R. Wrangham et al. "The raw and the stolen: Cooking and the ecology of human origins." Current Anthropology 40:581-582.

O'Connell, J. F.
Commentary: Genetics, archaeology and Holocene hunter-gatherers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (USA) 96:10562-10563.

O'Connell, J. F., and R. G. Elston
Commentary: History, theory, archaeology and the management of cultural resources. In Models for the Millennium: The Future of Research in Great Basin Anthropology, edited by C. Beck, pp. 261-265. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.


O'Connell, J. F., and F. J. Allen
When did humans first arrive in Greater Australia, and why is it important to know? Evolutionary Anthropology6:132-146.

Hawkes, K., J. F. O'Connell, N. G. Blurton Jones, E. L. Charnov and H. Alvarez
Grandmothering, menopause, and the evolution of human life histories. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 95:1336-1339.


Blurton Jones, N. G., K. Hawkes and J. F. O'Connell
1997. Hadza women's time allocation, offspring provisioning and the evolution of long postmenopausal life spans. Current Anthropology38:4, 551-577.

Blurton Jones, N. G., K. Hawkes, and J. F. O'Connell
Why do Hadza children forage? In Uniting Psychology and Biology: Integrative Perspectives on Human Development, edited by N. Segal, G. E. Weisfeld, and C. C. Weisfeld, pp. 279-314. American Psychological Association, Washington, D. C.

Hawkes, K., J. F. O'Connell, and L. Rogers
The behavioral ecology of modern hunter-gatherers and human evolution. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 12:29-32.

O'Connell, J. F.
On Plio/Pleistocene archaeological sites and central places. Current Anthropology 38:86-88.


Edwards, D.A., and J.F. O'Connell Broad spectrum diets in arid Australia . Antiquity 69:769-783.