Carolus Philippus "Carel" van Schaik is a Dutch primatologist who since 2004 is professor and director of the Anthropological Institute and Museum at the University of Zürich, Switzerland.
Van Schaik studied biology at the University of Utrecht, graduating in 1979. He was a researcher for the Netherlands Foundation for the Advancement of Tropical Research until 1984 and finished his doctoral dissertation for the Utrecht University in 1985. After positions at this university and at Princeton University, he became Associate Professor at the Department of Biological Anthropology and Anatomy at Duke University in Durham in 1989. In 2004 he moved to the University of Zurich.
Really he did not start as biological anthropologist, but as plant biologist, botanist.
The interest for the monkeys born toward the seventies, during an expedition to Sumatra beside his wife. Soon after, van Schaik become always more interested to the monkeys that to the plants, and when in the north-western part of Sumatra he comes upon in the marshy region of the Suaq, he finally meets his orangutans.
His book Among Orangutans: Red Apes and the Rise of Human Culture tells the story of his discovery of a group of orangutans in northern Sumatra and the challenge their tool use and sociality pose to theories of primatology and the insights they offer into key moments in human evolution.