Ella Al-Shamahi

Ella Al-Shamahi
Ella Al-Shamahi is a National Geographic Explorer, palaeoanthropologist, evolutionary biologist, and stand-up comic. She specialises in Neanderthals, caves and expeditions in hostile, disputed and unstable territories.

Ella uses comedy not just as a coping strategy, but also to communicate science and has performed internationally from the Bloomsbury Theatre to the National Geographic main stage in DC and has taken four stand-up shows to the Edinburgh Fringe. She was a 2019 TED main stage speaker where her TED talk has been viewed more than 2 million times. She was also a TEDxNashville speaker and was a keynote speaker at various international and corporate events.

In 2018, Ella was the presenter and associate producer for BBC Two's science series, Neanderthals: Meet Your Ancestors, as well as Horizon: Body Clock - What Makes Your Body Tick. She then went on to present a National Geographic show on Viking Warrior Women where during filming she discovered what might be the first evidence of a battle injury on a female Viking warrior. This discovery was widely reported on by the international press. In 2020 she also presented on programmes such as Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon (Channel 4) and Waterhole: Africa’s Animal Oasis (BBC2). Ella has also been featured twice in National Geographic Magazine and was a co-guest Editor for the first UK edition of National Geographic Magazine. She has also been featured in The Times, The Telegraph, The Sun among other publications and has contributed to radio programmes such as BBC Radio 4’s Midweek and BBC World Service’s Outlook.

She holds a BSc in Genetics from University College London, an MSc in Taxonomy and Biodiversity from Imperial College London/Natural History Museum and is currently undertaking a PhD in Neanderthal rates of evolution at University College London.

Her latest book The Handshake: A Gripping History is about the history and anthropology of the handshake and was published in March 2021.