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Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

He has research interests in the evolution of skeletal disease, diagnostic imaging using micro-computed tomography, human and animal decomposition processes, osseous taphonomy, particularly differentiation of sub‐aerial and sub‐surface processes, trauma analysis, ichnotraces, and the application of digital methods in the analysis of spatial taphonomy and the decomposition process. His forensic research focuses on aspects of human identification. His main forensic specialisation is taphonomy (peri and post-mortem processes) with an emphasis on sub-surface burial processes, trauma analysis, and the recovery and analysis of burnt human remains.

He has also continued research into the human evolutionary process, working at the sites of Malapa and Rising Star in South Africa. His role in the Rising Star project has been to apply skillsets derived from forensic casework (having worked on homicides, fatal fires and mass graves from war crimes) to the deep past; using the skills from modern forensic taphonomy to understand the context, decompositional environment and mortuary behaviours of Homo naledi. His research also encompasses the effects of disease and trauma on the skeleton, and he has most recently coordinated multi-disciplinary research teams investigating the earliest evidence for neoplastic disease (both tumours and cancers) in the hominin fossil record.

He is an experienced field worker and conducts fieldwork in Middle Pleistocene palaeo-archaeological deposits in the Limpopo region of South Africa, and is Co-Director of the Makapansgat Archaeological Landscape Project.

He is currently supervising a number of PhD projects looking at differing aspects of the forensic and palaeosciences.

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Datura quids at Pinwheel Cave, California, provide unambiguous confirmation of the ingestion of hallucinogens at a rock art site, Robinson, D., Brown, K., McMenemy, M., Dennany, L., Baker, M., Allan, P., Cartwright, C., Bernard, J., Sturt, F., Kotoula, E., Jazwa, C., Gill, K., Randolph-Quinney, P., Ash, T., Bedford, C., Gandy, D., Armstrong, M., Miles, J., Haviland, D. 8 Dec 2020, In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Osteogenic tumour in Australopithecus sediba: Earliest hominin evidence for neoplastic disease, Randolph-Quinney, P., Williams, S., Steyn, M., Meyer, M., Smilg, J., Churchill, S., Odes, E., Augustine, T., Tafforeau, P., Berger, L. 1 Jul 2016, In: South African Journal of Science
  • Earliest hominin cancer: 1.7-million-yearold osteosarcoma from Swartkrans cave, South Africa, Odes, E., Randolph-Quinney, P., Steyn, M., Throckmorton, Z., Smilg, J., Zipfel, B., Augustine, T., Beer, F., Hoffman, J., Franklin, R., Berger, L. 1 Jul 2016, In: South African Journal of Science
  • The Use of Three-Dimensional Scanning and Surface Capture Methods in Recording Forensic Taphonomic Traces: Issues of Technology, Visualisation, and Validation, Randolph-Quinney, P., Haines, S., Kruger, A. 2018, Multidisciplinary Approaches to Forensic Archaeology, Springer
  • Multimodal spatial mapping and visualisation of Dinaledi Chamber and Rising Star Cave, Kruger, A., Randolph-Quinney, P., Elliott, M. 1 May 2016, In: South African Journal of Science
  • Geological and taphonomic context for the new hominin species Homo naledi from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa, Dirks, P., Berger, L., Roberts, E., Kramers, J., Hawks, J., Randolph-Quinney, P., Elliott, M., Musiba, C., Churchill, S., de Ruiter, D., Schmid, P., Backwell, L., Belyanin, G., Boshoff, P., Hunter, K., Feuerriegel, E., Gurtov, A., Harrison, J., Hunter, R., Kruger, A., Morris, H., Makhubela, T., Peixotto, B., Tucker, S. 10 Sep 2015, In: eLife
  • Beyond size: The potential of a geometric morphometric analysis of shape and form for the assessment of sex in hand stencils in rock art, Nelson, E., Hall, J., Randolph-Quinney, P., Sinclair, A. 1 Feb 2017, In: Journal of Archaeological Science
  • Possible bite-induced abscess and osteomyelitis in Lufengosaurus (Dinosauria: Sauropodomorph) from the Lower Jurassic of the Yimen Basin, China, Xing, L., Rothschild, B., Randolph-Quinney, P., Wang, Y., Parkinson, A., Ran, H. 1 Dec 2018, In: Scientific Reports
  • Anthropology, Randolph-Quinney, P., Mallett, X., Black, S. 2009, Wiley Encyclopedia of Forensic Science, Wiley

Professional Activity


  • anthropology PhD July 08 2004
  • Archeology BSc (Hons) June 15 1993

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