Zachary Cofran

Associate Professor of Anthropology
Zachary Cofran

I am a biological anthropologist who studies growth and development in humans and our close relatives, both living and extinct. I received my PhD from the University of Michigan in 2012, and have been an assistant professor at Vassar College since 2016.

My research examines the evolution of development broadly, with primary interests in the brain, the fossil species Homo naledi, and modern gibbons. In the classroom, my teaching emphasizes empirical evidence for topics including human variation, primate behavior, climate change, and evolution. I also run the Human Evolution and Development (HEAD) Lab, giving students hands-on opportunities to study how we became human. See my website ( for more information.

BA, BS, Loyola University Chicago; MA, PhD, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
At Vassar since 2016


Blodgett Hall
Box 42

Research and Academic Interests

Brain Evolution & Development
Primate Biology & Behavior

Departments and Programs

Selected Publications

Cofran Z, VanSickle C, Valenzuela R*, García-Martínez D, Walker CS, Hawks J, Zipfel B, Williams SA, & Berger LR. 2022. The immature Homo naledi ilium from the Lesedi Chamber, Rising Star Cave, South Africa. American Journal of Biological Anthropology 179: 3–17. (open access link; article figure on cover of September 2022 volume)

Cofran Z, Boone M*, Petticord M*. 2021. Virtually estimated endocranial volumes of the Krapina Neandertals. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 174: 117–128. (link)

VanSickle C, Cofran Z, Hunt D. 2020. Did Neandertals have large brains? Factors affecting endocranial volume comparisons. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 173: 768–775. (link)

Cofran Z. 2019. Brain size growth in AustralopithecusJournal of Human Evolution 130: 72–82. (link)

Cofran Z. 2018. Brain size growth in wild and captive chimpanzees. American Journal of Primatology 80: e22876. (link)

Cofran Z and Walker CSW. 2017. Dental development in Homo nalediBiology Letters 13: 20170339. (open access link)

*Vassar Students