Darin Coft, Ph.D.I am a paleomammalogist; I study the evolution of mammals over geologic time using living mammals and the fossil record. I am mainly interested in the evolution of South American mammals. South America has a rich fossil record and was geographically isolated for most of the past 66 million years. This makes it an excellent place to investigate topics such as mammal adaptation, diversification, and community ecology.

As a Professor of Anatomy at Case Western Reserve University, I teach human anatomy to medical and graduate students and serve as a research advisor for undergraduate and graduate students in the departments of Biology and EEPS (Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences). I am also engaged in public outreach and other activities at the nearby Cleveland Museum of Natural History, where I am a Research Associate in Vertebrate Paleontology.


American Museum of Natural History
New York (2005-present)


Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Pittsburgh (2009-present)

Field Museum

The Field Museum
Chicago (2001-present)


Universidad Autónoma Tomás Frías
Potosí, Bolivia

Professor, Department of Anatomy, Case Western Reserve University (July 2017 to present)

  • Director, MS in Applied Anatomy program (2018-present)
  • Associate Professor (July 2009 – June 2017)
  • Assistant Professor (November 2003 to June 2009)
  • secondary appointment in Department of Biology (2006 to present)
  • direct and teach head/neck anatomy in graduate gross anatomy course (ANAT 411)
  • direct and teach surgical anatomy courses (ANAT 510, 516)
  • teach head/neck anatomy in CWRU medical school curriculum (WR2)
  • teach an undergraduate/graduate mammal diversity course (BIOL 345/ANAT 445)
  • conduct research, mostly on South American mammals

Editor-in-chief, Journal of Mammalian Evolution (2021-present)

Docente Externo, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia

  • serve on thesis committees for students pursing the Magíster en Paleontología
  • collaborate with faculty and students on projects and other initiatives

Lecturer, Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, The University of Chicago (October 2000 to October 2003)

  • served as course director for Human Morphology, a course for medical and graduate students that integrated anatomy, embryology, and histology
  • presented 28 lectures in total
  • conducted research on South American fossil mammals at The Field Museum

Post-Doctoral Research Scientist and Education Program Developer, The Field Museum, Chicago (January 2000 to December 2000)

  • helped define new liaison position between Geology and Education departments
  • reviewed scientific content for Education programs dealing with Sue the T. rex and paleontology
  • designed and implemented training program for volunteers working with the Sue exhibit
  • wrote scripts, organized content, and hosted “electronic field trips” dealing with the Sue exhibit
  • conducted research on South American fossil mammals

PhD, Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, The University of Chicago (1997-2000)

  • Thesis: Archaeohyracidae (Mammalia: Notoungulata) from the Tinguiririca Fauna, central Chile, and the evolution and paleoecology of South American mammalian herbivores
  • Advisors: John Flynn and Jim Hopson

MS, Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, The University of Chicago (1994-1996)

  • Thesis: Micromammal cave fossils from northwestern Honduras
  • Advisors: Bill Turnbull and Jim Hopson
  • National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship

BA, Interdepartmental Studies (Organismal Biology), The University of Iowa, Iowa City (1989-1993)

Dr. Darin Croft is a Professor in the Department of Anatomy at Case Western Reserve University and a Research Associate at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. He has a secondary appointment in the Biology Department at Case Western Reserve and is also a Research Associate at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, and the Field Museum in Chicago. He came to Cleveland from The University of Chicago in 2003.

Dr. Croft’s primary research area is the evolution of mammals in South America, including rodents, armadillos, sloths, marsupials, and several groups of extinct herbivores known as endemic South American ungulates. He is particularly interested in paleoecology, which is the study of how extinct animals lived and interacted with one other, and the evolution of animals on isolated continents. He currently serves as Editor-in-chief of the Journal of Mammalian Evolution, which publishes a wide array of topics on living and extinct mammals. Fieldwork is an integral part of Dr. Croft’s research, and he focuses on mammals that lived between about 40 and 10 million years ago. He has ongoing field projects in Bolivia and Chile and has collected fossils in several other parts of South America, as well as in western North America, Madagascar, and Australia.

Dr. Croft participates in many formal and informal educational activities. At Case Western Reserve University, he teaches head and neck anatomy to medical students and graduate students and teaches a course on mammal diversity and evolution to undergraduates. In collaboration with various museums, he has given presentations, helped design web sites and exhibits, and participated in live and taped video productions designed to teach both adults and children about paleontology, mammals, and evolution. He draws on his research to illustrate principles of fossil discovery, preparation, exhibition, and scientific investigation to people of all ages.

In his leisure time, Dr. Croft volunteers for The Ohio State University Extension (an organization that brings research-based horticultural information to the public), Science Café Cleveland (a monthly informal science discussion that takes place at a local brewery), and several other local groups. He enjoys traveling, speaking Spanish, trail running, doing CrossFit, gardening, and cheering for the Cleveland Cavaliers.


  • Animals

    Sheltopusik (<em>Ophisaurus apodus</em>)

    Sheltopusik (Ophisaurus apodus)

    The sheltopusik, also known as the European legless lizard, certainly does not look like a lizard at first glance; it is long, thin, and lacks any functional limbs. As a result, it is commonly mistaken for a snake. (It’s name, in fact, means “snake lizard.”) Not having limbs does not make something a snake, however. […]


  • Fitness

    Portable Gymnastics Rings

    Portable Gymnastics Rings

    If you’re familiar with CrossFit, then you know that gymnastic rings are essential for many workouts. I’ve been doing CrossFit since 2005, but I never joined a CrossFit gym. As a consequence, I came up with a ring setup that I can carry with me and install as needed – usually at 121 Fitness on the CWRU campus or in our workout […]


  • Plants

    Ask a Master Gardener

    Ask a Master Gardener

    Have a question about caring for your lawn, growing tomatoes, pruning an apple tree, or identifying an insect? If so, you can submit your question to Ask a Master Gardener and it will be answered by an Ohio State University Extension Master Gardener Volunteer like me. Master Gardener Volunteers are trained in a wide variety of horticultural […]

Science Outreach

  • Science Outreach

    Blogging for Old Bones

    Blogging for Old Bones

    Every six weeks or so, I write a post for Old Bones, the blog of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. Here are links to my blogs, in reverse chronological order: May 2017: The ups and downs of international fieldwork based on my experiences working in Chile and Bolivia. April 2017: Some thoughts about submitting an abstract for the Society […]

    Origins Science Scholars Videos

    Origins Science Scholars Videos

    One of the many activities sponsored by the Institute for the Science of Origins at Case Western Reserve University is the Origins Science Scholars program. This multi-week program is held each semester and features presentations by local scientists followed by dinner and conversation. All of the talks are available online and are also broadcast on WVIZ/PBS ideastream. I’ve given four […]

    Science Café Cleveland

    Science Café Cleveland

    Science Café Cleveland is an opportunity for members of the public to learn more about science and scientific research in a fun and informal atmosphere of good food, good beer, and good conversation. It takes place on the second Monday evening of every month. For many years, it met at the Tasting Room  at Great […]


  • Sustainability

    Recycling Bottle Caps

    Recycling Bottle Caps

    Other than water, beer is my beverage of choice. Although more and more craft beers are available in cans, at least half of the beer I drink comes in a bottle. Bottles are easy to recycle, but what about the metal caps? Metal cans are obviously recyclable, but most material recovery facilities have difficulties sorting out small objects […]

    Recycling Dehumidifier Water

    Recycling Dehumidifier Water

    Our 1920s home has a typical Heights basement that is humid much of the year. As a consequence, we use a dehumidifier to keep it at a reasonable level. (I’d prefer to not have to use a dehumidifier, but life is full of compromises.) Instead of just dumping all that water down the drain, I rigged up […]