Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Washburn, Sherwood L. (Sherry)

Physical anthropologist at Chicago and UC Berkeley. Washburn trained at Harvard (PhD, 1940) under E. A. Hooton; worked in southeast Asia (1937, see the Asiatic Primate Expedition), and studied baboon behavior in the 1950s. Washburn was a central figure in the refocusing of physical anthropologists on evolutionary studies rather than on racial studies, on observational of primates in natural rather than captive settings, and on functional rather than on descriptive anatomy. Washburn mentored more than 35 PhD students, many of whom were leaders in the subdiscipline during the next few decades. He was the recipient of many awards, was president of the AAPA (1951-2); editor of the AJPA (1955-7); president of the AAA (1961), and a Viking Fund medalist (1960). In Classification and Human Evolution (1963), Washburn was an early supporter of a knuckle-walking, chimpanzee-like recent common ancestor of humans. He was author of many other scholarly publications, including the new physical anthropology (AJPA, 1950, 1951); editor of The Social Life of Early Man (1961), and (with Phyllis Jay) of Perspectives in Human Evolution (1968, 1972).

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