Working in MCZ

I am a paleoanthropologist interested in understanding the relationship between biological form and function, with research foci on primate locomotor evolution, and hominoid (ape and human) origins.  The arboreal habitat of primates poses unique challenges, including substrate gaps and complex and unstable supports, which have led to the evolution of diverse forms of locomotion.  Although humans are terrestrial, we still bear the hallmarks of prior arboreal specializations.  A major evolutionary event among our hominoid relatives was the adoption of frequent upright postures (orthogrady) and suspensory (below branch) behavior from more monkey-like branch walking.   These novel behaviors opened new niches, and selected for a body with a stable lower back that was (arguably) modified for habitual upright posture and bipedality in one hominoid group, the human lineage.  The investigation of the locomotor adaptations of our ape predecessors, and the nature of their behavioral transitions, which also include dietary and body size changes, is a centerpiece of my research program.