Professor Paul O'Higgins

BSc, MBChB, PhD, DSc

Director of PalaeoHub

Role at Hull York Medical School

Professor Paul O'Higgins is Director of PalaeoHub, within the Department of Archaeology.

Paul contributes lectures and laboratory supervision to the Hull York Medical School core undergraduate curriculum and to the MSc in Human Anatomy and Evolution. His principal research interests concern the links between skeletal variation, function, evolution and development.


After qualifying in Medicine in 1982, Professor Paul O'Higgins lectured in Anatomy at the University of Leeds then at the University of Western Australia. From 1994 he was Reader, then Professor of Anatomy, at University College, London. Clinical experience includes several years in Accident and Emergency Medicine.

He was appointed as Head of the Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences at Hull York Medical School in 2003 and carries out research in the Department of Archaeology. His work focuses on the skeletal system of humans, our ancestors and near relatives and uses imaging, geometric morphometrics and finite element analysis to investigate the evolution of skeletal form and function.

Paul has wide experience of delivering topographical and microscopic anatomy courses at all levels of medical training.


Prof O’Higgins’ principal interests concern the links between skeletal variation, function, evolution and development.

His earliest work concerned the postnatal growth of the skull and spine in mice and apes and contributed to the development of an important new class of statistical and graphical methods for the analysis of form differences in biology, Geometric Morphometrics. More recently he has focussed on functional simulation of masticatory systems using finite element analysis (FEA) and multi-body dynamics analysis (MDA) and is applying these methods in studies of skeletal adaptation to functional loading in recent and more ancient humans. Ongoing projects are examining how dietary changes in the past have affected our jaws and how skeletal form is adapted to the lifestyles of past and present populations. 



Hull York Medical School

  • Clinical Anatomy in the medical curriculum
  • SSIP in Anatomy

Department of Archaeology, University of York

  • Third Year Special Topic in Human Evolution


MSc in Human Anatomy and Evolution

  • Module lead for Functional Musculoskeletal Anatomy
  • Module lead for Geometric Morphometrics Skills Modules

Full publications list available on Google Scholar.