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Dr. Patrick Randolph-Quinney

Senior Lecturer in Biological and Forensic Anthropology

School of Forensic and Applied Sciences

Maudland Building, MB107C

+44 (0) 1772 89 5683

Subject Areas: Forensic Science

Patrick is a biological anthropologist who focuses on forensic and palaeo-anthropology. His research focuses on human evolution, forensic human identification, forensic trauma analysis, and post-mortem processes (taphonomy), particularly the application of advanced biostatistics, 3D imaging methods and verifiable biomechanical approaches based on actualistic experimental modelling.

Patrick is research active in Forensic Anthropology Group and TRACES.

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Patrick is Senior Lecturer in Biological and Forensic Anthropology, in the School of Forensic and Applied Sciences, University of Central Lancashire, UK. His broad research interests concern the application of multi-disciplinary forensic sciences (anthropology, archaeology and taphonomy) into current medico-legal practice and the Evolutionary Anthropology of the deep past. With over 25 years’ archaeological and palaeoanthropolgical field experience, he has practical and research interests in human evolution during the Lower and Middle Pleistocene, the Earlier and Middle Stone Ages of Africa, and skeletal trauma with an emphasis on inter-personal violence, and in resulting skeletal trauma from sharp, blunt and projectile weapons. He is also focussed on understanding and quantifying the effects of burning on bone – from the early hominin use of fire, through funerary ritual and body disposal in archaeological and ethnographic contexts, and in forensic and human identification scenarios. Most recently he has been applying forensic taphonomic analyses to fossil assemblages of Australopithecus sediba and Homo naledi to understand patterns of bone breakage and trauma in natural death traps versus deliberate body disposal, and the evolution of hominin mortuary practices.

Patrick is part of an international team of researchers who discovered the most ancient evidence for cancer and bony tumours yet described in the human fossil record, from two cave sites in South Africa. Read the news story here. He also had a related article published in The Conversation ‘Fossil evidence reveals that cancer in humans goes back 1.7 million years’


PhD Biological Anthropology, University of Liverpool, 2004
BSc (Hons) Archaeological Sciences, University of Bradford, 1993


1. Randolph-Quinney, P.S., Williams, S.A., Steyn, M., Meyer, M.R., Smilg, J.S., Churchill, S.E., Odes, E.A, Augustine, T., Taffreau, P. and Berger, L.R. (2016). Osteogenic spinal tumor in Australopithecus sediba: Earliest evidence for neoplasia in the human lineage. South African Journal of Science 112 (7/8).

2. Odes, E.A, Randolph-Quinney, P.S., Steyn, M., Throckmorton, Z., Smilg, J.S., Zipfel, B., Augustine, T., de Beer, F., Hoffman, J.W., Franklin, R, and Berger, L.R. (2016). Earliest hominin cancer: 1.7 million year old osteosarcoma from Swartkrans Cave, South Africa. South African Journal of Science. 112 (7/8).

3. Kruger, A., Randolph-Quinney, P.S., and Elliott, M. (2016). Multi-modal spatial mapping and visualisation of Dianeldi Chamber and Rising Star Cave. South African Journal of Science 112 (5/6).

4. Dirks, P.H.G.M., Berger, L.R., Roberts, E.M., Kramers, J. D., Hawks, J., Randolph-Quinney, P.S., Elliott, M., Musiba, C.M., Churchill, S.E., de Ruiter, D.J., Schmid, P., Backwell, L.R., Belyanin, G.A., Boshoff, P., Hunter, K.L., Feuerriegel, E.M., Gurtov, A., Harrison, J.dG., Hunter, R., Kruger, A., Morris, H., Makhubela, T.V., Peixotto, B. and Tucker, S. (2015). Geological and taphonomic context for the new hominin species Homo naledi from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa. eLife 4 e09561.


Research activities

Forensic taphonomy and actualistic studies; Lower and Middle Pleistocene hominin specific and biocultural diversity; osteoarchaeology and human life-history reconstruction; palaeopathology; funerary archaeology and the anthropology of death; shape analysis and geometric morphometric methods (GMM); medical imaging methods applied to virtual anthropology and archaeology; and advanced applications of statistics in archaeology, forensic sciences, and evolutionary anthropology.

Current Research Activities

  • Decomposition, post-mortem interval (PMI) estimation and taphonomic processes – particularly assessment of sub-aerial weathering processes versus sub-surface skeletal decomposition
  • Analysis of mechanical strength and structural competency in burnt bone
  • Validation of taphonomic models of bone decomposition and burial processes
  • Forensic trauma and taphonomic analysis of the Malapa and Rising Star hominin assemblages
  • Taphonomic and comparative analysis of intentional body disposal by Homo naledi 
  • Evolution and impact of disease processes in the Plio-Pleistocene
  • Landscape and karstic system palaeoarchaeology of Lower and Middle Stone Age deposits in the Makapansgat Valley and Mokopane region, Limpopo Province, South Africa
  • Use of geometric morphometrics in the analysis of individuating shape pattern and sexual dimorphism in forensic biometrics and in the analysis of hand stencils in Palaeolithic rock art


Malapa early hominin project (forensic taphonomy)
Rising Star early hominin project (forensic taphonomy and spatial archaeology)

Postgraduate Research Supervision (ongoing)


Kruger, A. Applications and Innovations of Imaging Modalities Applied to the South African Palaeoanthopological Record: High Resolution 3D Spatial Taphonomic Analyses of the Malapa and Rising Star Cave and Fossil Deposits. PhD in Geosciences.

Molopyane, K. Healed and Healing Wounds: A Forensic Biomechanical Analysis of Ante-Mortem Trauma in Ancient and Recent South African Populations. PhD in Forensic Anthropology.

Odes, E.A. Disease, Pathology and Life History Reconstruction in South African Hominins. PhD in Biological Anthropology.

Parkinson, A. The Role of Insects in Bone Surface Modification and Karstic Taphonomic Processes. PhD in Geosciences.

Smilg, J. Virtual Autopsy of Hominin-Bearing Breccia Blocks from the Early Hominin Site of Malapa, South Africa Using Clinical and Micro-Computed Tomography. PhD in Geosciences.


Smeyatsky, I. Geometric Morphometric Shape Analysis of Late Stone Age Projectile points. MSc in Archaeology.

Teaching activities and responsibilities

Programme Leader:
MSc in Forensic Anthropology

Course leader and teaching delivery:
FZ4305 Developmental Anatomy
FZ4306 Forensic Anthropology: Method and Context

Teaching delivery on:
FZ1054 Introduction to Osteology and Anthropology
FZ2051 Forensic Anthropology
FZ3051 Forensic Taphonomy
FZ4307 Forensic Taphonomy


2016 Randolph-Quinney, P.S., Hawks, J. and Berger, L.R. Homo naledi and the evolution of hominin mortuary practices. Society of Africanist Archaeologists 23rd Biennial Meeting, University of Toulouse.

2016 Molopyane, K., Randolph-Quinney, P.S., and Merlo, S. Fractured bone-scapes: using spatial analyses to understand bone trauma and subsequent life-history in South African skeletal populations. Society of Africanist Archaeologists 23rd Biennial Meeting, University of Toulouse.

2016 Smeyatsky, I., Sadr, K. and Randolph-Quinney, P.S. Discerning and explaining shape variations in Later Stone Age tanged arrowheads in South Africa. Society of Africanist Archaeologists 23rd Biennial Meeting, University of Toulouse.

2015 Randolph-Quinney, P.S. S.A. Williams, M. Steyn, M.R. Meyer, J.S. Smilg, S.E. Churchill, E.J. Odes, T. Augustine, P. Tafforeau and L.R. Berger. Imaging the earliest evidence for neoplastic disease in the human lineage: the use of phase contrast x-ray synchrotron microtomography to investigate a primary osteogenic tumor of the spine in Australopithecus sediba. AESOP 3D Imaging in a South African Context. University of Pretoria.

2015 E.J. Odes, P. Randolph-Quinney, A. Parkinson, B. Zipfel, J. Hoffman, F. de Beer, H. Bonny and L.R. Berger. Use of micro-computed tomography in the investigation of pseudopathology on the skeleton of StW 431 (Australopithecus africanus) from Sterkfontein Cave, Cradle of Humankind. AESOP 3D Imaging in a South African Context. University of Pretoria.

2015 A. Parkinson, P. Randolph-Quinney, S. van der Walt, P.H.G.M. Dirks, M. Steyn, C. Nienaber, J. Hoffman and F. de Beer. Application of micro-computed tomography to the analysis of forensic taphonomy and entomology of South African burial systems. AESOP 3D Imaging in a South African Context. University of Pretoria.

2014 Randolph-Quinney, P.S. and Namono, C. The use of geometric morphometric methods in the analysis of rock art: case examples from Tanzania. 14th Congress of the Pan African Archaeological Association for Prehistory and Related Studies, University of the Witwatersrand.

2014 Randolph-Quinney, P.S., Parkinson, A., and Esterhuysen, A. Mummies from Historic Cave, Makapansgat, Limpopo: application of forensic taphonomy and entomology to the analysis of South African cave burials. 14th Congress of the Pan African Archaeological Association for Prehistory and Related Studies, University of the Witwatersrand.

2014 Randolph-Quinney, P.S. Equifinality and cremain taphonomy: the implications of forensic fire analysis for studies of archaeological and early hominin pyrotechnology. 14th Congress of the Pan African Archaeological Association for Prehistory and Related Studies, University of the Witwatersrand.

2014 Randolph-Quinney, P.S., Pokines, J., Symes, S.A., L’Abbe, E.N., Backwell, L., Brophy, J., Parkinson, A., Val, A. and Berger, L.R. The Prodigal Child returns: the application of forensic taphonomic analyses to palaeoanthropological assemblages – case examples from the Malapa hominin deposit. Academy of Forensic Sciences – Annual Scientific Meeting, Seattle WA.

2014 Brophy, J., Randolph-Quinney, P.S. and Berger, L.R. A taphonomic assessment of the bovids from Malapa, South Africa, and its implications for the accumulation of Australopithecus sediba fossils. Palaeoanthropology Society Meeting, Calgary, Canada.