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Dr Patrick Randolph-Quinney

Associate Professor

Department: Applied Sciences

Dr Patrick Randolph-Quinney is a Biological and Forensic Anthropologist from Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

He is Group Leader of Northumbria University's Forensic Science Research Group (

His broad interests concern the application of multi‐disciplinary forensic taphonomy and thanology into both current medico‐legal practice and the Evolutionary Anthropology of the deep past. He has a background in palaeoanthropology and archaeology, and spent much of his early academic life working on the biological and cultural evolution of the genus Homo during the Middle Pleistocene, a critical period that precedes the evolution of our own species and the advent of modern behaviours. In recent years he has been working in the field of forensic anthropology and human identification. He has extensive casework experience in both forensic anthropology and archaeology in the UK and sub‐Saharan Africa, including archaeology of fatal fires, and as a member of the Mission Chambres Africaines Extraordinaires investigating human rights abuses in the Republic of Chad. He was co‐coordinator of the African School for Forensic Science and Human Rights in conjunction with the Argentine Forensic Team (EAAF).

Patrick Randolph-Quinney

Patrick's research focusses on taphonomy and thanatology in forensic, archaeological and palaeontological  contexts, with the aim of understanding mortuary behaviours, peri and post-mortem alteration to the body, and site formational processes. His work integrates decomposition modelling with multi-scalar approaches to how body deposition sites (whether intentional or natural) function and change through time - integrating bone taphonomy, sedimentology and geomorphology, biotic and abiotic factors to understand the persistence and transfer of taphonomic evidence through time. 

He has research interests across the field of forensic taphonomy including human and animal decomposition processes, osseous taphonomy, 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. In particular he is using innovative approaches using 3D and 4D space capture and modelling (from laser, structured light scanning and photogrammetry), and remote sensing and GIS, to understand site formational processes from object to landscape level. This includes research which aims to improve methods of environmental detection of buried deposits using multi-proxy and remote sensing data from drones and UAV. 

He has an interest in the field of wildlife and environmental crime and the application of forensic methods to combat it. 

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 recently led 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.

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Harnessing Thor’s Hammer: Experimentally induced lightning trauma to human bone by high impulse current, Bacci, N., Augustine, T., Hunt, H., Nixon, K., Hoffman, J., Corporation, S., de Beer, F., Randolph-Quinney, P. 2021, In: Forensic Science International: Synergy
  • Calculation of likelihood ratios for inference of biological sex from human skeletal remains, Morrison, G., Weber, P., Basu, N., Puch-Solis, R., Randolph-Quinney, P. Sep 2021, In: Forensic Science International: Synergy
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • New fossil remains of homo naledi from the lesedi chamber, South Africa, Hawks, J., Elliott, M., Schmid, P., Churchill, S., de Ruiter, D., Roberts, E., Hilbert-Wolf, H., Garvin, H., Williams, S., Delezene, L., Feuerriegel, E., Randolph-Quinney, P., Kivell, T., Laird, M., Tawane, G., Desilva, J., Bailey, S., Brophy, J., Meyer, M., Skinner, M., Tocheri, M., Vansickle, C., Walker, C., Campbell, T., Kuhn, B., Kruger, A., Tucker, S., Gurtov, A., Hlophe, N., Hunter, R., Morris, H., Peixotto, B., Ramalepa, M., Van Rooyen, D., Tsikoane, M., Boshoff, P., Dirks, P., Berger, L. 9 May 2017, In: eLife

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Invited talk: Navigating the Cadaveric Island: integrating forensic taphonomy, archaeology and crime scene science in research and praxis 2021
  • Invited talk: Unearthing the buried soul: Homo naledi and the evolution of hominin mortuary practices 2021
  • Invited talk: Understanding the Cadaveric Island: Forensic Perspectives on the Reconstruction of Burial Ecology and Mortuary Behaviours 2021
  • Invited talk: Landscape and the evolution of humans and humanness: Cave and landscape archaeology at Makapansgat, South Africa 2021
  • Invited talk: Funerary Archaeology as Primatology: Lessons from the Dinaledi Chamber and Comparative Mortuary Ethology 2021
  • Invited talk: The Past, Present and Future of Cave and Landscape Palaeoarchaeology at Makapansgat, South Africa 2020
  • Invited talk: The Impact of Forensic Taphonomy: From Body Farms to the Courtroom 2020

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

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