Napoleon Chagnon

Professor Emeritus


Social behavior, evolutionary theory, social structure, South American Indians


PhD, University of Michigan


Chagnon is engaged in the computer analysis and publication of his continually growing body of data on the Yanomamo demography, settlement patterns, geographical variations, and warfare patterns over time. He continues to make annual field trips to the Venezuelan Yanomamo and is working among extremely remote new villages he contacted between 1990 and 1992. The new villages contrast markedly in intensity of warfare and other social features with villages he studied between 1964 and 1988 but are historically related to them. His current focus is on collecting additional information that will shed light on these variations.

The tragic health effects of the 1988 gold rush in the Brazilian Yanomamo area has led Chagnon to devote much of his time to collecting epidemiological data that will be used to develop health care programs for the Venezuelan Yanomamo, many groups of which are close to the mining area and are beginning to contract diseases caused by the influx of illegal miners on the Brazilian side who are occasionally visited by Venezuelan Yanomamo and vice versa. Professor Chagnon established the Yanomamo Survival Fund in 1988 for this purpose and also works closely with several other non-profit organizations that are attempting to help the Venezuelan Yanomamo and their neighbors.


  • Evolutionary Biology and Human Social Behavior. An Anthropological Perspective. Edited with William Irons. North Scituate, MA: Duxbury Press, 1979.
  • Yanomamo, 5th ed. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1997.
  • "Life Histories, Blood Revenge, and Warfare in a Tribal Population." Science 239:985-992, 1988.