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 Professor of Anatomy


Instructional Activities | Research Interests | Peer Reviewed Publications (selected) | Outreach

Native Explorers
- Graduate opportunities in vertebrate paleontology


Instructional Activities


  • Gross and Developmental Anatomy – MS1 & Graduate
  • Advanced Gross Anatomy – MS3-PGY4 & 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.

My work in the Great Basin has been centered on solidifying the Hemingfordian-Barstovian boundary and improving the understanding of evolutionary responses of rodents to primary geologic events (e.g., basin building, tectonism, and volcanism) and climate.  In the summer of 2008, I began working with Ian Browne, Nick Czaplewski, and Darrin Pagnac to document small mammals and biostratigraphy in the lower parts of the Barstow Formation to establish a correlational link between it and the Monarch Mill Formation, Churchill County, Nevada (Eastgate fauna).  The samples are revealing small mammal remains (e.g., Heteromyidae, Cricetidae, Zapodidae), where only large mammals like equids and canids have been reported previously.

As a faculty member in the Biomedical Sciences, I am conducting research that pertains to the health sciences.  Current projects include the 1) descriptions of observed variations of the musculoskeletal system of the human body cadaveric specimens and 2) functional anatomy and dysfunctions of the lower limb.  These projects are in collaboration with faculty and students (graduate and medical) at OSU-CHS.

Peer Reviewed Publications (selected)

  1. 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.
  2. Czaplewski, N.J. and Smith, K.S.  Late Pleistocene vertebrates from a rockshelter in Cimarron County, Oklahoma.  Southwestern Association of Naturalists.  (In Press).
  3. 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.
  4. Smith, K.S., Cifelli, R.L., and Czaplewski, N.J.  2006.  A new genus of eomyid rodent from the Miocene of Nevada.  Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 51(2):385-392.


I co-founded the Native Explorers 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 class room 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.

The University of Oklahoma in Norman has created a Native Explorers student organization.  This program unites Native students on Campus, who are interested in science and/or medicine and builds networks with professionals in these disciplines.

Other partnerships include scientists and educators from the Chickasaw Nation, the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History (SNOMNH), 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.  The development of a Native Explorers component for the Paleo Expedition part of the Whitten-Newman ExplorOlogy program at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History has been developed as well.



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