Ashley Bales

Undergraduate Discipline

BA, Arizona State University. PhD, New York University. Research interests include the evolution and diversification of catarrhine primates, with particular interest in the earliest apes, ancestral morphotype reconstruction, and morphological systematics. She has worked on paleontological research projects across East Africa and has also conducted behavioral research on blue monkeys in Kakamega Forest, Kenya. She has received funding for her research from The Leakey Foundation and previously taught at Dickinson College. SLC, 2017–

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018


Primate Origins of Human Behavior

Open , Seminar—Fall

Homo sapiens are the only species to inhabit every continent, to grow our own food, to use complex language and grammar. But how unique are these behaviors when compared to our closest primate relatives? How do our definitions of humanity change when we understand our place in nature? This course serves as an introduction to animal behavior, using primates as a focal point. The course explores the ways in which behaviors can evolve as adaptations shaped by natural selection and the complex interrelationships of behavior, ecology, and evolutionary history. Beginning with a discussion of our place in nature, we will discuss how our biological heritage as primates can elucidate human communication, sex differences, innovation, childhood, altruism, and aggression. The goals of the course are to instill a basic understanding of human and nonhuman primate behavioral ecology and to challenge the ways in which we define our species as unique.