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Ross MacPhee

Curator of Mammals
American Museum of Natural History

Ross MacPhee is the former chairman of the Department of Mammalogy at the American Museum of Natural History, where he has been Curator of Vertebrate Zoology since 1988. Ross received his Ph.D. from the University of Alberta in 1977 and was previously Associate Professor of Anatomy at Duke University Medical Center. He has worked in both polar regions as well as throughout the insular tropics, collecting fossil mammals ranging in age from Cretaceous to Recent. Known for his paleomammalogical research on island extinctions, his recent work has focused on how extinctions occur, particularly those in which humans are thought to have been implicated during the past 100,000 years. In recent years he has been working with geneticists and molecular biologists to develop the new tools of ancient DNA and systematic proteomics as a means for studying the relationships of extinct mammals. In addition to having published more than 200 scientific papers, he recently wrote a popular work on ice age extinctions, End of the Megabeasts (WW Norton, 2019) In 2008, he curated the AMNH’s exhibition The Horse, which concentrated on examining human-horse interactions over the course of the past 30,000 years. This in turn generated a concern for the fate of wild horses, and how increased protections might be developed for them if the horse were made a native species.