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Professor Paul O'Higgins
Professor of Anatomy



After qualifying in Medicine in 1982, Professor Paul O'Higgins lectured in Anatomy at the University of Leeds then at the University of Western Australia. From 1994 he was Reader, then Professor of Anatomy, at University College, London. Clinical experience includes several years in Accident and Emergency Medicine.

He was appointed as Head of the Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences at Hull York Medical School in 2003 and carries out research in the Department of Archaeology. His work focuses on the skeletal system of humans, our ancestors and near relatives and uses imaging, geometric morphometrics and finite element analysis to investigate the evolution of skeletal form and function. 



Prof O’Higgins’ principal interests concern the links between skeletal variation, function, evolution and development.

His earliest work concerned the postnatal growth of the skull and spine in mice and apes and contributed to the development of an important new class of statistical and graphical methods for the analysis of form differences in biology, Geometric Morphometrics. More recently he has focussed on functional simulation of masticatory systems using finite element analysis (FEA) and multi-body dynamics analysis (MDA) and is applying these methods in studies of skeletal adaptation to functional loading in recent and more ancient humans. Ongoing projects are examining how dietary changes in the past have affected our jaws and how skeletal form is adapted to the lifestyles of past and present populations.   


Selected publications

To view Professor Paul O'Higgins' full list of publications, visit the York Research Database. 



Hull York Medical School
• Clinical Anatomy in the medical curriculum
• SSIP in Anatomy

Department of Archaeology
• Third Year Special Topic in Human Evolution


MSc in Human Anatomy & Evolution
• Module lead for Functional Musculoskeletal Anatomy
• Module lead for Geometric Morphometrics Skills Modules

External activities


Learned societies

• Founding Board Member, European Society for Human Evolution
• Member, The Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland
• Member , American Association of Physical Anthropologists
• Member, The Primate Society of Great Britain.
• Fellow, Linnean Society of London
• Fellow, Higher Education Academy

Contact details

Paul O'Higgins
Professor of Anatomy
University of York
Wentworth Way
YO10 5DD

Tel: (44) 1904 328872