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Mary A. Kelaita

Postdoctoral Fellow

Biological Anthropology

Mary A. Kelaita


Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2011


(210) 458-5243


MH 4.03.26


Department of Anthropology
One UTSA Circle
San Antonio, TX 78249


The genetic basis of human and non-human primate evolution has always been at the heart of all my research interests. My recent dissertation work explored the evolution and correlates of morphological variation in two howler monkey species inhabiting Mexico, Alouatta palliatta and Alouatta pigra, and their hybrids. In collaboraiton with other investigators, I helped to identify the interspecific hybrids from pure individuals through the use of molecular markers. More broadly, I am interested in how population dynamics influence the evolution of morphological and behavioral traits. I plan to investigate these phenomena through the study of interspecific hybridization and speciation, the identificaiton of genes underlying these traits, and the characterization of genetic variation that can help reveal dispersal and relatedness in primate populations. Finally, I am interested in the implications of my work for understanding the evolutionary processes involved in recent human evolution.


The cross-disciplinary nature of my research has prepared me to teach a variety of courses within anthropology including, but not limited to, anthropological genetics, population behavioral and reproductive ecology, and human and primate origins. I really enjoy teaching introductory anthropology courses to undergrduates to illustrate the relevance of the discipline to all aspects of their lives. Additionally, I help more advanced students to develop independent research projects in physical anthropology as well as teach them the field, laboratory, and statistical methods relevant to their work. One of the most important components of my teaching philosophy is the incorporation of an evolutionary theoretical framework into one’s toolkit for understanding human nature while at the same time recognizing the uniqueness of human culture and the role it plays in shaping our physiological and behavioral adaptations. I also support and encourage individuals from traditionally underrepresented groups in the sciences to pursue a career in physical anthropology.

Representative Publications

2011 - Kelaita, Mary A. “Impact of Intrasexual Selection on Sexual Dimorphism and Testes Size in the Mexican Howler Monkeys Alouatta palliata and A. pigra.” American Journal of Phsical Anthropology (146(2):179–187.