About Us

Terry Ritzman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the Washington University School of Medicine and the Department of Anthropology at Washington University. His research investigates the comparative anatomy of the skull in primates as it relates to human evolution, particularly with regard to the role of the evolving brain in the overall architecture of the skull.

Dave Hughes has designed the web architecture for the database. Formerly a software engineer in the Informatics and Cyberinfrastructure Services Department at Arizona State University, he now works for Uber in San Francisco, CA.

About the Database

The database comprises radiographs of anthropoid primate species. Images in the database are searchable and browseable and downloads of the complete sample (or sub-sets thereof) are completely free. The database is designed to be used by scientists in anthropology (or other related fields) as well as teachers at any educational level. This database represents the efforts of its creators to further data-sharing in academic pursuits. In addition, the database will help preserve invaluable museum specimens by reducing the need for further radiography (and potential damage) of these specimens. The database is organized by taxonomic group, mainly by species. Users can search by species and some higher taxonomic groups and can further limit searches by sex. Images from the database can be easily imported into programs designed to take measurements from photos (e.g., ImageJ) or software designed to perform three- dimensional geometric morphometric analyses (e.g., TPSDig). Moreover, these images can be included in PowerPoint or Keynote presentations (for this application, we recommend converting the files to a smaller format, e.g., jpeg).


All specimens in this database come from the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institute), and the original USNM accession numbers are included in the information about each specimen. The x-rays were also produced using the digital x-ray facilities in the Department of Vertebrate Zoology at the National Museum of Natural History. Permission to make these radiographs freely available on this database was provided by the Division of Mammals (Department of Vertebrate Zoology) at the National Museum of Natural History. 1780 anthropoid primate species were radiographed. Approximately 20 specimens per species are available, but numbers vary. Only adult (based on emergence of the third molar), non-pathological individuals were included. Whenever possible, equal numbers of males and females were included; all information on sex distribution is provided in the database.


Two radiographs of each specimen were produced: a superior and a lateral view. For the superior view, specimens were oriented into the Frankfurt Horizontal plane. For lateral radiographs, specimens were positioned with the mid-sagittal plane oriented parallel to the x-ray source. All radiographs were produced digitally and were post- processed using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. **The scale bar in each radiograph is 40 mm. long** In addition to the radiographs, a battery of linear measurements, which were collected with calipers directly from the specimens, are available on the website. These data are available as part of the information on each individual specimens, and spreadsheets including all of these measurements are available on request.


Funds for this database were provided by a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant by the National Science Foundation awarded to Terry Ritzman. In addition, support was provided by the Harmon Memorial Endowment through the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University. The completion of this database would not have been possible without the support of the Institute of Human Origins (particularly Drs. Gary Schwartz and Bill Kimbel, Lindsay Mullen, and Julie Russ). The museum specialists (specifically, Sandra Raredon and Darrin Lunde) as well as Dr. Richard Vari in the Division of Fishes at the National Museum of Natural History also crucial help while the radiographs were being produced. Finally, Judy Chupasko (Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University) graciously provided supplies used in creating the radiographs.

Contact Us

We are dedicated to improving this website. If you have any suggestions for how the database can be improved (or if you would like to contribute material to the database), do not hesitate to contact us: