Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences
Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences

Anatomy and Vertebrate Paleontology

Kent S. Smith, Ph.D. Kent S. Smith, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for the Office for the Advancement of American Indians in Medicine and Science
Professor of Anatomy


Instructional Activities | Research Interests | Peer Reviewed Publications (most recent) | Outreach

Native Explorers
- Graduate opportunities in vertebrate paleontology


Instructional Activities


  • Clinical Anatomy –MS-I and Graduate
  • Advanced Gross Anatomy – MS-III-PGY4 and Graduate
  • Primary Care Sports Medicine (Elective) – Post Primary Care Residency


  • Paleomammalogy
  • Applications of Geographic Information Systems in Evolutionary Biology
  • Field Techniques in Vertebrate Paleontology
  • Introduction to Ancient DNA:  Patterns in Mammal Fossils

Research Interests

My research interests include the paleobiology, biogeography, and systematics of late Neogene insectivores and rodents of the southern Great Plains regions, Colorado Plateau, and Great Plains of North America.  I use a number of techniques and approaches including multivariate statistical analyses, computer-assisted phylogenetic analysis, field collections, and surveys.  I also employ geographic information systems (GIS) to study morphology of teeth and bacula.

In Oklahoma, my efforts include long-term, field oriented study of distributions and natural history of neomammals.  As for fossils in this State, I am working on comprehensive surveys and field studies of the Pleistocene mammalian fauna and its paleoecological implications.

In Utah, I am conducting field studies in the Wasatch Plateau of recent and Quaternary age montane mammals.  The main goals of this project are to pursue investigations of immigration and extinction events on high-altitude refugia.

In the Great Basin, my research focus is centered on the geochronology, biostratigraphy, and paleoecology of the Middlegate and Monarch Mill formations.  These formations are located in the Middlegate Basin in west central Nevada and are providing data aimed at solidifying the Hemingfordian-Barstovian boundary and improving our understanding of evolutionary responses of mammals to primary geologic events (e.g., basin building, tectonism, and volcanism) and climate.  In the summers of 1996 and 2005, I led field parties that collected fossil mammals in the lower part of the Monarch Mill Formation.  In 2014, our goals were to collect geochronologic and stratigraphic data from the lower part of the Monarch Mill Formation.  Ultimately, my work in the Middlegate Basin will expand to include the middle and upper portions of the Monarch Mill and Middlegate formations, which will provide a comprehensive overview of the mammalian evolution and paleoecology of the Middlegate Basin during the Middle Miocene Optima (MMO).

Peer Reviewed Publications (most recent)

  1. Smith, K., Czaplewski, N., and Cifelli, R.  (In press).  Middle Miocene carnivorans from the Monarch Mill Formation, Nevada.  Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.
  2. Czaplewski, N.J. and Smith, K.S.  2012.  Late Pleistocene vertebrates from a rockshelter in Cimarron County, Oklahoma.  Southwestern Association of Naturalists 57(4):399-411.
  3. Czaplewski, N.J., Smith, K.S., Johnson, J., Dockery, C., Mason, B., and Browne, I.D.  2011.  Gopher snake searching cliff swallow nests in east-central Utah.  Western North American Naturalist 72(1):96-99.
  4. Smith, K. S., Jarolim, K. L., and Stewart, C.  2010.  A rare variant of a common arterial trunk for the medial and lateral circumflex femoral arteries.  Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science 90:133-136.


I co-founded the Native Explorers Foundation with Mr. Reggie Whitten of the Whitten Burrage Law Firm.  Native Explorers is a non-profit organization based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which develops and supports educational programs and partnerships that promote increasing the number of Native Americans in science and medicine. Jeff Hargrave, J.D. is the Executive Director of the Native Explorers.

The Native Explorers program at OSU-Center for Health Sciences is designed around the disciplines of anatomy and vertebrate paleontology to provide an array of hands-on, out of the classroom activities that introduce Native people to science and promote traditional ways and culture.  General themes include climate change, evolution, comparative osteology, stratigraphy, mapping, healthful lifestyles, and Native culture. This educational program is focused on Natives 18 years of age and older, who are interested in higher education.

Other partnerships include scientists and educators from the Chickasaw Nation, the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History (SNOMNH), the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, the USDA Forest Service (Price District, Price, UT), and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR).  Native and non-native scientists and educators from the USDA Forest Service and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources demonstrate field methods used to manage the local resources and they provide insights into internships and careers as well.

The educators at the Chickasaw Nation’s Division of Education have developed a Jr. Native Explorers club for Native youth ages K-12.  Mentorship for the Chickasaw youth group is provided for by educators at the Chickasaw Nation, scientists and educators at OSU-CHS and SNOMNH. 

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