UCL Anthropology


Kit Opie


Room 142

Department of Anthropology
University College London
14 Taviton St
London, WC1H 0BW

+44 (0) 20 7679 8652



Leverhulme Early Career Fellow (2014-2017)

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, UCL (2013-2014)

DPhil Anthropology, University of Oxford

MSc Human Evolution and Behaviour, UCL
BA Economics, University of Sussex

Research Interests

My interests are in the evolution of social behaviour in human and non-human primates. I use Bayesian phylogenetic methods developed in evolutionary biology to explore the evolution of social systems, mating systems, marriage and kinship and investigate the causes of changes in those traits. My work has focused on the evolution of social organisation and the causes of the emergence of monogamy in primates on the one hand, and the causes of the evolution of kinship and marriage among Bantu cultures in sub-Saharan Africa on the other.


UCL Open Day mini-lecture - Lecturecast, video, mv4, mp3

La Ciudad de las Ideas - Dangerous Ideas Debate

Interviews with:


I teach the Evolution of Social Behaviour using Comparative Methods course ANTHGH02 in term 2, as part of the MSc in Human Evolution and Behaviour.


Journal Articles

Brindle M, Opie C (2016). Postcopulatory sexual selection influences baculum evolution in primates and carnivores. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 283(1844).

Opie C, Shultz S, Atkinson QD, Currie T, Mace R. 2014. Phylogenetic reconstruction of Bantu kinship challenges Main Sequence Theory of human social evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111(49):17414-17419.

Opie C, Atkinson QD, Dunbar RIM, & Shultz S (2014). Reply to Lukas and Clutton-Brock: Infanticide still drives primate monogamy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 111(17):E1675.

Opie C, Atkinson QD, Dunbar RIM, & Shultz S (2013) Reply to Dixson: Infanticide triggers primate monogamy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110(51):E4938-E4938

Opie C, Atkinson QD, Dunbar RIM, & Shultz S (2013) Male infanticide leads to social monogamy in primates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110(33):13328-13332.

Opie, C., Q. D. Atkinson, and S. Shultz. (2012). The evolutionary history of primate mating systems. Communicative & Integrative Biology 5:1-4.

Shultz, S., C. Opie, and Q. D. Atkinson. (2011). Stepwise evolution of stable sociality in primates. Nature, 479(7372), 219-222.

Book Chapters

Shultz, S., C. Opie, E. Nelson, Q. D. Atkinson, and R. I. M. Dunbar. (2014). "Evolution of primate social systems: implications for hominin social evolution," in Lucy to Language: Benchmark Papers. Edited by R. I. M. Dunbar, C. Gamble, and J. A. J. Gowlett. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Opie, K. & C. Power. (2008). Grandmothering and Female Coalitions: A Basis for Matrilineal Priority? In Allen, N.J., Callan, H., Dunbar, R. & James, W. (eds). Early Human Kinship: From Sex to Social Reproduction. Oxford: Blackwell.

Popular Science

C. Opie (2013). Why mammals prefer to have just one partner. The Conversation.

K. Opie (2014). Is monogamy natural for humans? Anthropolitan 10