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B.Sc (Hons) Prehistoric Archaeology & Biological Anthropology
University of Toronto, Canada (2006)
M.Sc Human Evolution & Behaviour (Thesis Dist.)
University College London (2008)
Ph.D Working Title:
"Ontogeny of the shoulder girdle in hominoid primates"
+44 20 7679 8627
ontogeny, functional morphology, primate locomotion, hominoid postcranial anatomy, shoulder girdle.
On the one hand my research interests relate to the postcranial skeleton of hominoid primates (apes and humans), and how extant hominoid morphologies can be of use for interpreting extinct hominoid morphologies. On the other hand, I am interested in on how growth and development shape adult postcranial morphologies, and whether ontogeny (i.e. structural change through growth and development) can be of use in addressing issues of ‘homology versus homoplasy’ in hominoid skeletal anatomy.
Ultimately, I am interested in contributing to discussions regarding (a) the mode of locomotion of the last common ancestor of living crown hominoids, and (2) the mode of locomotion of the last common ancestor of panins and hominins (from which bipedalism arose.)
My PhD research seeks to combine these two interests by studying the ontogeny of the shoulder girdle in hominoid primates in the context of understanding whether the anatomical similarities in this structure in extant hominoids are due to convergence or shared ancestry.
My PhD research focuses on the ontogeny of the shoulder girdle in hominoid primates (gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, gibbons and humans.)
The shoulder girdle is an area of particular interest in primate evolution in that it is adapted to a variety of locomotor strategies. Increased reliance on bipedalism in our own lineage however, has relaxed the selective pressures acting on the hominin shoulder girdle, freeing it from its responsibility as a locomotor structure. Recent evidence from the Miocene and Plio-Pleistocene fossil records seems to be at odds with what we would expect to find given the shoulder morphologies of extant hominoids, raising the possibility that morphological similarities in this structure in extant hominoids are due to convergence rather than shared ancestry.
My project addresses this question by testing whether the anatomical similarities in extant hominoid shoulder structures arise through similar developmental processes in order to assess whether they are homologous or homoplastic. This will ultimately contribute to existing discussions regarding the extent to which similarities in hominoid upper limb morphology have evolved independently or reflect an ancestral morphotype, as well as discussions regarding the mode of locomotion of the last common ancestor (LCA) of apes and humans.
I use 3D surface scans of humeri, clavicles and scapulae, which I collect with a Handyscan 3D EXAscan (by Creaform.)
Primates are aged using a dental scoring method to attribute relative dental ages to each individual (with the use of CT scans and X-rays.)
Ontogenetic trajectories are analysed by applying Gompertz growth curves to within-species population-level data.