C. Loring Brace

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C. Loring Brace
Born 1930 (age 88–89)
Hanover, New Hampshire, U.S.
Nationality American
Fields Physical Anthropology
Institutions University of Michigan
Alma mater Harvard University
Thesis Physique, Physiology and Behavior: An Attempt to Analyse a Part of their Roles in the Canine Biogram. (1961)
Doctoral advisor William W. Howells

Charles Loring Brace IV (born 1930) is an American anthropologist, Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan's Department of Anthropology and Curator Emeritus at the University's Museum of Anthropological Archaeology. He considers the attempt "to introduce a Darwinian outlook into biological anthropology" to be his greatest contribution to the field of anthropology.[1]

Early life and education

Brace was born Charles Loring Brace IV in Hanover, New Hampshire in 1930, a son of writer, sailor, boat builder and teacher, Gerald Warner Brace and Hulda Potter Laird. His ancestors were New England schoolteachers and clergymen including John P. Brace, Sarah Pierce, and the Rev. Blackleach Burritt. Brace's paternal great-grandfather, Charles Loring Brace, founder of the Children's Aid Society, had worked to introduce evolutionary theory into the United States and knew Charles Darwin. C. Loring Brace developed an early interest in biology and human evolution as a child in part by reading Roy Chapman Andrews's popular book Meet your Ancestors, A Biography of Primitive Man (1945). He entered Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where he constructed his own major from geology, paleontology, and biology courses.

Brace was drafted by the U.S. Army during the Korean War and while in the service, worked with the fitting of gas masks so that they would be able to fit a variety of different people.[2] He entered Harvard University in 1952 and studied physical anthropology with Ernest Hooton and later with William W. Howells, who introduced Brace to the new evolutionary synthesis of Darwinian evolution and population genetics. During this time he was also able to travel to Europe, where he spent 1959-1960 at Oxford University, in the animal behavior laboratory of Nikolaas Tinbergen, and traveled to Zagreb, Yugoslavia, where he inspected the collection of Neanderthal fossils collected by Dragutin Gorjanovic-Kramberger at Krapina.

Brace completed his Ph.D. in 1962. He taught briefly at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and then at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has spent much of his career as Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan and as Curator of Biological Anthropology at the university's Museum of Anthropology.


Neanderthal studies

In 1962, Brace published a paper in American Anthropologist titled "Refocusing on the Neanderthal Problem" where he argued, in opposition to French anthropologist Henri Vallois, that the archeological and fossil evidence did not necessarily support the idea that the Neanderthals were replaced by Cro-Magnon populations migrating into Europe, rather than being ancestral to early Homo sapiens.

Brace continued his reappraisal of the Neanderthal problem in 1964 in "The Fate of the 'Classic' Neanderthals: a consideration of hominid catastrophism" published in Current Anthropology. Here Brace traced the history of research on the Neanderthals in order to show how interpretations established early in the century by Marcellin Boule and notions such as Arthur Keith's pre-sapiens theory had convinced many anthropologists that the Neanderthals played little or no role in the evolution of modern humans. Brace argued that cultural factors, especially the increased use of tools by Neanderthals, produced morphological changes that led the classic Neanderthals to evolve into modern humans.

Brace has remained a vigorous proponent of the idea that Neanderthals are ancestral to modern humans. He also argued that the fossil record suggests a simple evolutionary scheme whereby humans have evolved through four stages (Australopithecine, Pithecanthropine, Neanderthal, and Modern humans), and that these stages are somewhat arbitrary and reflect our limited knowledge of the fossil record. Brace has emphasized the need to integrate the ideas of Darwinian evolution into palaeoanthropology. Much earlier research into human origins relied on non-Darwinian models of evolution; Brace presented his advocacy of the Darwinian approach in The Stages Of Human Evolution, first published in 1967.

Brace's ideas have generated considerable controversy[citation needed], as much for his brash criticism of his colleagues as for their content, but they have also influenced a generation of anthropological research into human evolution and the interpretation of the Neanderthals.

Other studies

In the publication "Clines and clusters versus Race: a test in ancient Egypt and the case of a death on the Nile", Brace discusses the controversy concerning the race of the Ancient Egyptians. Brace argues that the "Egyptians have been in place since back in the Pleistocene and have been largely unaffected by either invasions or migrations".[3]

In a 2006 publication "The questionable contribution of the Neolithic and the Bronze Age to European craniofacial form", Brace argues that Natufian peoples, who are thought to be the source of the European Neolithic, had Sub-Saharan African admixture, but that "the interbreeding of the incoming Neolithic people with the in situ foragers diluted the Sub-Saharan traces that may have come with the Neolithic spread so that no discoverable element of that remained."[4]

Past Ph.D. students (alphabetical order)

  • Patricia S. Bridges (1985)
  • Dean Falk (1976)
  • Sonia E. Guillen (1992)
  • Margaret E. Hamilton (1975)
  • Robert J. Hinton (1979)
  • Kevin D. Hunt (1989)
  • Carol J. Lauer (1976)
  • Paul E. Mahler (1973)
  • Stephen Molnar (1968)
  • A. Russell Nelson (1998)
  • Conrad B. Quintyn (1999)
  • Karen R. Rosenberg (1986)
  • Alan S. Ryan (1980)
  • Margaret J. Schoeninger (1980)
  • Noriko Seguchi (2000)
  • B. Holly Smith (1983)
  • Frank Spencer (1979)
  • Kenneth M. Weiss (1972)
  • Richard G. Wilkinson (1970)
  • Lucia Allen Yaroch (1994)


  • Man's Evolution: An Introduction to Physical Anthropology (1965)
  • The Stages Of Human Evolution: Human And Cultural Origins (1967)
  • Atlas of Fossil Man. C. Loring Brace, Harry Nelson, and Noel Korn (1971)
  • Race and Intelligence. Edited by C. Loring Brace, George R. Gamble, and James T. Bond. Washington: American Anthropological Association, 1971.
  • Man In Evolutionary Perspective. Compiled by C. Loring Brace and James Metress (1973)
  • Human Evolution: An Introduction to Biological Anthropology. C. L. Brace and Ashley Montagu (1977)
  • Atlas of Human Evolution (1979)
  • The Stages Of Human Evolution: Human And Cultural Origins (1979)
  • Evolution in an anthropological view (2000)
  • Race is a four letter word (2005)


  1. Minnesota State University. "Brace, C. Loring". E-Museum.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Ferrie, Helke (1997). An Interview with C. Loring Brace. Current Anthropology. p. 853. I was part of the gas-mask fitting program, which turned out to be very useful later in my anthropological work.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  4. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).

External links