Robert J. Asher is a paleontologist specializing in mammals. Raised in western New York State, he is a former Curator of Mammals at the Berlin Natural History Museum and Frick Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History. Currently, he is the Curator of Vertebrates in the University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge. Over the past two decades, his research in paleobiology has taken him to Argentina, Britain, Canada, Kenya, Madagascar, Mongolia, South Africa, Spain, the United States and Venezuela. His regularly publishes scientific articles in leading journals including PNAS, Science and Nature.

Dr. Asher is currently studying mammalian paleobiology, in particular the evolution and development of endemic African and South American mammals, and how extinct vertebrates fit alongside living ones on the Tree of Life.

Dr. Asher has recently become interested in the intersection of science and religion, and in 2012 published Evolution and Belief: Confessions of a Religious Paleontologist (Cambridge University Press). He has an ongoing blog on the Huffington Post ( and has on occasion published reviews and essays on the subject in other venues such as The Times, Theology, and The Montreal Review.

Recent publications in science

  • Hautier L, Stansfield FJ, Allen WR, Asher RJ. 2012. Skeletal development in the African elephant and ossification timing in placental mammals. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 279(1736):2188-2195.
  • Ciancio MR, Castro MC, Galliari FC, Carlini AA, Asher RJ. 2012. Evolutionary Implications of Dental Eruption in Dasypus (Xenarthra). Journal of Mammalian Evolution 19:1-8.
  • Hautier LJ, Weisbecker V, Goswami A, Knight F, Kardjilov N, Asher RJ. 2011. Skeletal ossification and sequence heterochrony in xenarthran evolution. Evolution & Development 13(5):460–476.
  • Asher RJ, Lin KH, Kardjilov N, Hautier LJ. 2011. Variability and constraint in the mammalian vertebral column. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 24(5): 1080-1090.
  • Hautier LJ, Weisbecker V, Sánchez-Villagra MR, Goswami A, Asher RJ. 2010. Skeletal development in sloths and the evolution of mammalian vertebral patterning. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 107(44):18903-18908.
  • Asher RJ, Helgen KM. 2010. Nomenclature and placental mammal phylogeny. BMC Evolutionary Biology 10:102.
  • Asher RJ, Maree S, Bronner G, Bennett NC, Bloomer P, Czechowski P, Meyer M, Hofreiter M. 2010. A phylogenetic estimate for golden moles (Mammalia, Afrotheria, Chrysochloridae). BMC Evolutionary Biology 10:69.
  • Asher RJ, Avery DM. 2010. New golden moles (Afrotheria, Chrysochloridae) from the Pliocene of South Africa. Paleontologica Electronica 13(1):3A.
  • Asher RJ, Bennett N, Lehmann T. 2009. The new framework for understanding placental mammal evolution. Bioessays 31(8): 853-864.
  • Benton MJ, Donoghue PCJ, Asher RJ. 2009. Calibrating and constraining molecular clocks. pp. 35-86 in Hedges SB and Kumar S. (Eds.) The Timetree of Life. Oxford University Press.

Recent publications in science and religion

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