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Francis Thackeray

Honorary Research Associate, Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand

Professor Francis Thackeray is a South African who obtained his PhD in anthropology through Yale University (1984), analysing faunal remains from Late Quaternary assemblages at Wonderwerk Cave. Prior to that he studied at the University of Cape Town where he obtained a BSc, majoring in zoology (1974); BSc (Hons) in archaeology (1975); and MSc in environmental studies (1977).

He has been particularly interested in developing a statistical (probabilistic) definition of a species.

He is a member of the KRP Kromdraai Research Project, involved with research on fossils from Kromdraai in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in South Africa.

From 1990 he was head of the Department of Palaeontology and Palaeoenvironmental Studies at the Transvaal Museum (Ditsong National Museum of Natural History in Pretoria), before being appointed as director of the museum, a position he held until January 2009.

He served as director of the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of the Witwatersrand between 2009 and 2013.

Now retired, he is currently an honorary research associate with the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.


  • 2018–2019
    Honorary Research Associate, Evolutionary Studies Institute


Order of Merit (Chevalier), Republic of France.