Frances D. Burton, PhD

Professor Emerita
Department of Anthropology
University of Toronto
Ontario, Canada


Dr. Burtons Doctoral Research on the use of the hand in monkeys was initiated and arranged by Louis Leakey, and researched at his primate research station at Limuru, Kenya. This study united functional anatomy, ecology and behavior. Back from Africa, she taught at Hunter College in NYC, became an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto in 1969 and Full Professor in 1981. She has published in anatomy and physiology (she was the first – ever- to ascertain that female monkeys experience orgasm) as well as evolution and social behavior. She has published on relations between monkeys and human neighbours in Gibraltar, Hong Kong, GuangXi, Penang and Honduras where she and students found that howlers dropped figs to domesticants thereby increasing their value to humans. Her publications include videos, the CD ROM, The Multimedia Guide to the Non-Human Primates, (Prentice Hall) and most recently a book titled, Fire: the Spark that Ignited Human Evolution which suggests the association with firelight by means of epigenetic mechanisms accelerated human evolution.

Research Interest

Her research interests include: Epigenetics and human evolution; primate behaviour and evolution, synanthropic moneys, human evolution, anthropology of food: customs, cultural/nutritional needs, food as medicine, cultural rationalizations of disease, e.g. kwashiorkor, pibloqtog and the like.

Scientific Activities


• Founders Day Award for Academic Excellence 1960
• APUS-SAC Award for Best Teacher, 1997-1998


1. Burton FD. Sexual Climax in Female Macaca mulatta. Proceedings 3rd, Internat. Cong. of Primat. Karger, Basel. 1971; 3: 181-191.
2. Burton FD. An analysis of the muscular limitation of opposability in seven species of Cercopithecinae Am. J. Phys. Anth. 1972; 36(2): 169-188. doi:10.1002/ajpa.1330360206
3. Burton FD, Bick M. A drift in time can define a deme: the concept of Tradition Drift. Hum. Evol. 1972; 1(1): 53-59. doi:10.1016/0047-2484(72)90042-5
4. Burton FD, Sawchuk L. Demography of Macaca sylvanus of Gibraltar. Primates. 1974; 15(2): 271-278. doi:10.1007/BF01742288
5. Burton FD, Underwood C. Intestinal helminths in Macaca sylvanus of Gibraltar. Can. J. of Zool. (Notes). 1976; 56(8): 1406-1407.
6. Burton FD. Speculations on meat-eating: a dietary hypothesis. Current Anthropology. 1975; 16(4): 646.
7. Burton FD. The social structure of the sacred baboon. Newsletter of the Metropolitan Toronto Zoological Society. 1976; 8(3).
8. Burton FD, De Pelham A. More on predatory behaviour in non-human Primates. Current Anthropology. 1976; 17(3): 512.
9. Burton FD, De Pelham A. Still more on predatory behaviour: A reply to Geza Teleki. Current Anthropology. 1977. 18(1): 580.
10. Burton FD. Ethology and the development of sex and gender identity in non-human Primates. Acta Biotheoretica. 1977; 26(1): 1-18. doi:10.1007/BF00115923
11. Burton FD, De Pelham A. A twinning event in Macaca sylvanus of Gibraltar. J. of Medical Primat. 1979; 8: 105-112.
12. Burton FD. Interbirth Intervals in Macaca sylvanus, L. Sawchuk (primary). Primates. 1982; 23(1).
13. Burton FD. Inferences of cognitive abilities in Old World monkeys. Semiotica. 1984; 50(1-2): 69-81.
14. Burton FD, Chan L. Interspecific babysitting . Can. J. of Zoology. 1987; 65: 752-755.
15. Burton FD. A Preliminary Report on Trachypithecus francoisi with S.E. Harrison and K.A. Snarr, Intern. J. of Primat. 1995; 16(2): 311-327.
16. Burton FD, Campbell V, Bolton K. Chemical Analysis of Soils of Kowloon (Hong Kong) Eaten by Hybrid Macaques. J.Chem.Ecol. 1998; 24(2): 195-205.
17. Burton FD. Praxis and theory: Teaching the Well-being of Non-human Primates at the Zoo. Journal of College Science Teaching: feature. NTSA WebNews Digest. 6/30/2004. Available at:
18. Burton FD. Epigenetics and Anthropology. Special issue of the Indian Journal of Physical Anthropology and Genetics: Human Ecology and Challenges in the 21st. Century. In: Sigmon B, Malik SL, eds. 2012; 31(2): 201-223.