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Prof Robert A. Barton, BSc, M.Sc, PhD

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41603
Director (Social Sciences) in the Institute of Advanced Study
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 44690
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 44699
Room number: Room 007

Contact Prof Robert A. Barton (email at


I am interested in the evolution of brain, behaviour and cognition, behavioural ecology, sexual selection and the evolution of reproductive strategies. I developed and tested the 'Visual brain hypothesis' for primate brain size evolution, and have recently become interested in the underestimated role of the cerebellum in brain evolution and cognition. I have also worked on the evolutionary and cultural significance of the colour red.

Recent projects include: 'The Phylogeny of Sleep' (funded by NIH, $1m); 'Evolutionary architecture of reproduction in female mammals' (funded by BBSRC/NERC, £248k); 'Cognitive Evolution and the brain' (Funded by a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship, £38k).


  • PhD in Primate Behavioural Ecology (1990)
  • Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology (2005-)
  • President, Primate Society of Great Britain (2001-2005)
  • President, European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association (2010-2013)
  • Leverhulme Research Fellow (2012-13) - Cognitive evolution and the brain
  • Visting Research Fellow, All Souls Collge Oxford (2011) - Evolution of human cognition

Research Groups

Department of Anthropology

Research Projects

Department of Anthropology

Research Interests

  • Behavioural ecology and sociobiology
  • Comparative studies of brain size and structure in relation to behavioural ecology
  • Evolution of mamalian reproductive traits
  • Primate evolution and behaviour

Selected Publications

Show all publications

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Human biology and development: animal behaviour
  • Human biology and development: evolutionary theory
  • Human biology and development: the brain
  • People: Evolution and Biology: animal behaviour
  • People: Evolution and Biology: evolutionary theory
  • People: Evolution and Biology: the brain


Selected Grants

  • 2012: Cognitive Evolution and the Brain (£39013.00 from The Leverhulme Trust)
  • 2008: EVOLUTIONARY ARCHITECTURE (£249647.07 from Bbsrc)
  • 2006: RCUK FELLOWSHIP (£125000.00 from Epsrc)
  • 2006: RCUK FELLOWSHIP (£125000.00 from Epsrc)
  • 2005: PHYLOGENY OF SLEEP (£128138.22 from National Institutes of Health)