Professor of Evolutionary Anatomy
UCL Dept of Cell and Developmental Biology
Human Evolution Interest
With a background in mammalian palaeontology and anatomy, I study the fossil skulls of human ancestors and their relatives (jointly known as 'hominins'). Most of this research focuses on earlier periods of our evolutionary past. The size and shape of the human skull reflect what makes us unique among mammals; an unprecedented enlargement of the brain, reduction of our teeth and jaws, and a change to upright posture and bipedal gait. Hence, studying how, when and why these changes in skull morphology occurred provides valuable information about our evolutionary history over the last six million years or more. From a broader biological perspective my research deals with questions about the relationship between form and function, the developmental (ontogenetic) processes underlying morphological change, and how ancestral form constrains the way a species can adapt to changing external influences.