Vincent Sarich

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Vincent M. Sarich
Born December 13, 1934 (1934-12-13)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died October 27, 2012 (2012-10-28) (aged 77)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Nationality American
Fields Anthropology
Institutions University of Auckland
Alma mater Illinois Institute of Technology
University of California, Berkeley
Doctoral advisor Sherwood Washburn
Known for Research in human evolution[1]
Notable awards Kistler Prize (2004)

Vincent Matthew Sarich (December 13, 1934 – October 27, 2012) was an American Professor Emeritus in anthropology at UC Berkeley.

Early life and education

Born in Chicago, he received a bachelor of science in chemistry from Illinois Institute of Technology and his masters and doctorate in anthropology from University of California, Berkeley, where he was supervised by Sherwood Washburn. He was a member of the Department of Anthropology at Stanford from 1967 to 1981, and taught at UC Berkeley from 1966 through 1994.

As a doctoral student, and along with his PhD supervisor Allan Wilson, Sarich measured the strength of immunological cross-reactions of blood serum albumin between pairs of creatures, including humans and African apes (chimpanzees and gorillas).[2] The strength of the reaction could be expressed numerically as an Immunological Distance, which was in turn proportional to the number of amino acid differences between homologous proteins in different species. By constructing a calibration curve of the I.D. of species' pairs with known divergence times in the fossil record, the data could be used as a molecular clock to estimate the times of divergence of pairs with poorer or unknown fossil records.


In their seminal paper in 1967 in Science, Sarich and Wilson estimated the divergence time of humans and apes as four to five million years ago,[2] at a time when standard interpretations of the fossil record gave this divergence as at least 10 to as much as 30 million years. Subsequent fossil discoveries, notably Lucy, and reinterpretation of older fossil materials, notably Ramapithecus, showed the younger estimates to be correct and validated the albumin method. Application of the molecular clock principle revolutionized the study of molecular evolution.[citation needed]

Sarich's later work on race strengthened his reputation as a controversial figure. He applied his earlier work to racial differentiation, which he sees as the beginnings of speciation,[citation needed] arguing that the smaller the amount of time required to create a given number of morphological difference, the more selectively significant the differences become.

Sarich was a proponent of sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, and his position that racial differences represent the beginnings of speciation, which often caused him to be the subject of controversy by activists at Berkeley.[3]

In 1994, Sarich was a signatory of a collective statement titled Mainstream Science on Intelligence,[4] written by Linda Gottfredson and published in the Wall Street Journal. Sarich also wrote a favorable review of The Bell Curve[citation needed].

After retirement from Berkeley, he occasionally lectured in anthropology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand for a number of years. At the time of his death he was living in Seattle, WA with his daughter, her partner and grandson.


Some of Sarich's teachings was criticized by students and faculty for not being based in science, statements his critics said were demeaning to women, nonwhites and homosexuals.[3]

In an interview with The New York Times, Sarich agreed with his critics, who stated that there was little or no scientific basis for his claims about homosexuality, or on the relationship that he was then teaching of brain size to intelligence. He told the Times there seems to be a correlation but "there is not a lot of evidence to support that theory because there isn't a lot of research done on the subject."[3]


  • Sarich VM, Wilson AC. Immunological time scale for hominid evolution. Science 158, 1967, p. 1200-1203.
  • Sarich VM, Miele F. Race: The Reality of Human Differences. Westview Press (2004). ISBN 0-8133-4086-1
  • Sarich VM. The Final Taboo. Skeptic (Altadena, CA) January 1, 2000. Volume: 8 Issue: 1 Page: 38
  • Sarich VM, Dolhinow P. Background for man; readings in physical anthropology ASIN: B00005VHM2
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  1. "Kistler Prize 2004 Recipient". Foundation for the Future. Archived from the original on 2009-04-04. Retrieved 2009-04-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Campus Life: Berkeley; Campus Is Split Over Statements By a Professor". The New York Times. December 23, 1990. Retrieved January 10, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Gottfredson, Linda (December 13, 1994). Mainstream Science on Intelligence. Wall Street Journal, p A18.


External links