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Research Conducted at the Lab

Welcome to the Ungar Lab

The focus of research in our laboratory is the ecology of past mammals, especially human ancestors. The laboratory employs and supports research of graduate students and undergraduates at the University of Arkansas and other universities, and fosters collaborations among researchers at many institutions across the US and abroad. Our current projects vary from reconstructing environments during human evolution in Africa to studying the extinction of giant marsupials at the end of the last ice age in Australia, and inferring the diets of our early ancestors and their kin. We use many approaches to studying tooth wear and shape as proxies for diet, including white-light confocal profilometry and laser scanning combined with scale-sensitive fractal analysis and geographic information systems software.

Please use the links on this site to explore our research projects, participants, and facilities. And don’t hesitate to contact me if you are interested in joining our laboratory as a collaborator or graduate student

Peter Ungar

Peter Ungar, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor and Chair of Anthropology
University of Arkansas


Teeth: A Very Short Introduction

Peter S. Ungar

ISBN: 0199670595

Mammal Teeth: Origin, Evolution, and Diversity

Peter S. Ungar
ISBN: 0801896681

Evolution of the Human Diet

Peter S. Ungar (Ed.)

ISBN: 0195183479


Dental topographic analysis is the study of the functional aspects of tooth shape using Geographic Information Systems technology. We combine laser scanning with GIS to model tooth cusps as mountains, fissures as valleys, etc. The resulting data are used to relate tooth form to function, infer diets from fossil species, and to consider how tooth shape and function change with gross wear that occurs over a lifetime.MORE→

is the study of microscopic wear on teeth to infer tooth use and diet in fossil species. Our lab has pioneered microwear texture analysis, a 3D approach to automated characterization of microwear surfaces that combines white-light confocal profilometry with scale-sensitive fractal analysis. Chris Brown and his team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute helped develop these methods. MORE→

News & Updates


Wild Thing: Human Teeth vs. Other Mammalian Teeth Thinking more about our teeth The "true" human diet  It’s not that your teeth are too big: your jaw is too...

A retrospective on 2016

2016 was a productive year for the Ungar Lab. Our visiting graduate researcher, Li- Cheng Hua, received his Ph.D. and is now a postdoc in the Department of Chemisty and Biochemistry working with Professor Ryan Tian.  We have nine wonderful undergraduate honors student...

The “Ungargrads” – 2018 update!

The Ungargraduates include a baker's dozen  honors undergraduate students this year -- including six seniors!!!!  They are all doing amazing work.  To learn more about what each researcher is doing check out their bios. I am THRILLED to announce that all four of our...

Teeth book featured on blog

Dr. Peter Ungar's book Teeth: A Very Short Introduction was recently featured on the Thammasat University Libraries' (Bangkok, Thailand) blog. Check out the blog post....

End of the semester wrap-up

The Ungar Lab not only started the semester strong, but we are finishing the 2015-2016 school year strong as well. Undergraduates and graduate students in the lab presented their research at the American Association of Physical Anthropology (see pictures below), and...

Presentations at the AAPA 85th Annual Meeting

This week the Ungar Lab will be busy in Atlanta, GA at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists Annual meeting. Two of our graduate students have been chosen to participate in the AAPA COD-WIN Graduate Student Women’s Professional Development Workshop. The...

Happy holidays from the Ungar Lab!

    As we end the semester here in Arkansas, we're getting ready for the holiday season. We hope that your own holidays - be it Hannukah or Christmas or even a happy Saturnalia - are just as wonderful! And don't forget to have a happy and healthy start to the New...