Matching Items (10)

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Comparative and experimental investigations of cranial robusticity in mid-Pleistocene hominins

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Extremely thick cranial vaults have been noted as a diagnostic characteristic of Homo erectus since the first fossil of the species was identified, but potential mechanisms underlying this seemingly unique

Extremely thick cranial vaults have been noted as a diagnostic characteristic of Homo erectus since the first fossil of the species was identified, but potential mechanisms underlying this seemingly unique trait have not been rigorously investigated. Cranial vault thickness (CVT) is not a monolithic trait, and the responsiveness of its layers to environmental stimuli is unknown. Identifying factors that affect CVT would be exceedingly valuable in teasing apart potential contributors to thick vaults in the Pleistocene. Four hypotheses were tested using CT scans of skulls of more than 1100 human and non-human primates. Data on total frontal, parietal, and occipital bone thickness and bone composition were collected to test the hypotheses: H1. CVT is an allometric consequence of brain or body size. H2. Thick cranial vaults are a response to long, low cranial vault shape. H3. High masticatory stress causes localized thickening of cranial vaults. H4. Activity-mediated systemic hormone levels affect CVT. Traditional comparative methods were used to identify features that covary with CVT across primates to establish behavior patterns that might correlate with thick cranial vaults. Secondly, novel experimental manipulation of a model organism, Mus musculus, was used to evaluate the relative plasticity of CVT. Finally, measures of CVT in fossil hominins were described and discussed in light of the extant comparative and experimental results. This dissertation reveals previously unknown variation among extant primates and humans and illustrates that Homo erectus is not entirely unique among primates in its CVT. The research suggests that it is very difficult to make a mouse grow a thick head, although it can be genetically programmed to have one. The project also identifies a possible hominin synapomorphy: high diploë ratios compared to non-human primates. It also found that extant humans differ from non-human primates in overall pattern of which cranial vault bones are thickest. What this project was unable to do was definitively provide an explanation for why and how Homo erectus grew thick skulls. Caution is required when using CVT as a diagnostic trait for Homo erectus, as the results presented here underscore the complexity inherent in its evolution and development.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Biomechanical Constraints on Molar Emergence in Primates

Description

Across primates, molar-emergence age is strongly correlated to life-history variables, such as age-at-first-reproduction and longevity. This relationship allows for the reconstruction of life-history parameters in fossil primates. The mechanism responsible

Across primates, molar-emergence age is strongly correlated to life-history variables, such as age-at-first-reproduction and longevity. This relationship allows for the reconstruction of life-history parameters in fossil primates. The mechanism responsible for modulating molar-emergence age is unknown, however. This dissertation uses a biomechanical model that accurately predicts the position of molars in adults to determine whether molar emergence is constrained by chewing biomechanics throughout ontogeny. A key aspect of chewing system configuration in adults is the position of molars: the distal-most molar is constrained to avoid tensile forces at the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Using three-dimensional data from growth samples of 1258 skulls, representing 21 primate species, this research tested the hypothesis that the location and timing of molar emergence is constrained to avoid high and potentially dangerous tensile forces at the TMJ throughout growth. Results indicate that molars emerge in a predictable position to safeguard the TMJ during chewing. Factors related to the size of the buffer zone, a safety feature that creates greater stability at the TMJ during biting, account for a large portion of both ontogenetic and interspecific variation in the position of emergence. Furthermore, the rate at which space is made available in the jaws and the duration of jaw growth both determine the timing of molar emergence. Overall, this dissertation provides a mechanical and developmental model for explaining temporal and spatial variation in molar emergence and a framework for understanding how variation in the timing of molar emergence has evolved among primates. The findings suggest that life history is related to ages at molar emergence through its influence on the rate and duration of jaw growth. This dissertation provides support for the functionally integrated nature of craniofacial growth and has implications for the study of primate life history evolution and masticatory morphology in the fossil record.

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Date Created
  • 2017

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A comparative radiographic investigation of facial projection in anthropoid primates

Description

Facial projection--i.e., the position of the upper face relative to the anterior cranial fossa--is an important component of craniofacial architecture in primates. Study of its variation is therefore important to

Facial projection--i.e., the position of the upper face relative to the anterior cranial fossa--is an important component of craniofacial architecture in primates. Study of its variation is therefore important to understanding the bases of primate craniofacial form. Such research is relevant to studies of human evolution because the condition in

Homo sapiens--in which facial projection is highly reduced, with the facial skeleton located primarily inferior (rather than anterior) to the braincase--is derived vis-à-vis other primates species, including others in the genus Homo. Previous research suggested that variation in facial projection is explained by: (1) cranial base angulation; (2) upper

facial length; (3) anterior cranial base length; (4) anterior sphenoid length; and/or (5) anterior middle cranial fossa length. However, previous research was based on taxonomically narrow samples and relatively small sample sizes, and comparative data on facial projection in anthropoid primates, with which these observations could be

contextualized, do not currently exist.

This dissertation fills this gap in knowledge. Specifically, data corresponding to the hypotheses listed above were collected from radiographs from a sample of anthropoid primates (N = 37 species; 756 specimens) . These data were subjected to phylogenetically-controlled multiple regression analyses. In addition, multivariate and univariate models were statistically compared, and the position of Homo sapiens relative to univariate and multivariate regression models was evaluated.

The results suggest that upper facial length, anterior cranial base length, and, to a lesser extent, cranial base angle are the most important predictors of facial projection. Homo sapiens conforms to the patterns found in anthropoid primates, suggesting that these same factors explain the condition in this species. However, a consideration of the

evidence from the fossil record in the context of these findings suggests that upper facial length is the most likely cause of the extremely low degree of facial projection in Homo sapiens. These results downplay the role of the brain in shaping the form of the human cranium. Instead, these results suggest that reduction in facial skeleton size--which may

be due to changes in diet--may be more important than previously suggested.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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Morphological integration and the anthropoid dentition

Description

The pattern and strength of genetic covariation is shaped by selection so that it is strong among functionally related characters and weak among functionally unrelated characters. Genetic covariation is expressed

The pattern and strength of genetic covariation is shaped by selection so that it is strong among functionally related characters and weak among functionally unrelated characters. Genetic covariation is expressed as phenotypic covariation within species and acts as a constraint on evolution by limiting the ability of linked characters to evolve independently of one another. Such linked characters are "constrained" and are expected to express covariation both within and among species. In this study, the pattern and magnitude of covariation among aspects of dental size and shape are investigated in anthropoid primates. Pleiotropy has been hypothesized to play a significant role in derivation of derived hominin morphologies. This study tests a series of hypotheses; including 1) that negative within- and among-species covariation exists between the anterior (incisors and canines) and postcanine teeth, 2) that covariation is strong and positive between the canines and incisors, 3) that there is a dimorphic pattern of within-species covariation and coevolution for characters of the canine honing complex, 4) that patterns of covariation are stable among anthropoids, and 5) that genetic constraints have been a strong bias on the diversification of anthropoid dental morphology. The study finds that patterns of variance-covariance are conserved among species. Despite these shared patterns of variance-covariance, dental diversification has frequently occurred along dimensions not aligned with the vector of genetic constraint. As regards the canine honing complex, there is no evidence for a difference in the pleiotropic organization or the coevolution of characters of the complex in males and females, which undermines arguments that the complex is selectively important only in males. Finally, there is no evidence for strong or negative pleiotropy between any dental characters, which falsifies hypotheses that predict such relationships between incisors and postcanine teeth or between the canines and the postcanine teeth.

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Date Created
  • 2011

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The development of adult sex-typed social behavior in Lemur catta

Description

Unanswered questions about the evolution of human gender abound and are salient across the anthropological disciplines and beyond. Did adult sex-typed behavioral tendencies actually evolve? If so, when? For what

Unanswered questions about the evolution of human gender abound and are salient across the anthropological disciplines and beyond. Did adult sex-typed behavioral tendencies actually evolve? If so, when? For what purpose? The best way to gain insight into the evolution of human gender is to understand the evolution and development of sex-typed behavior in comparative primate taxa. Captive research indicates that there are many proximate factors likely to shape the development of sex-typed behavior in non-human primates—prenatal and postnatal endocrinological experience, social experience, ecological factors, and their interactions. However, it is largely unknown how sex-typed behavior proceeds and is shaped by those factors in evolutionarily salient environments. This study investigated one—whether extrinsic sexually differentiated social interactions are likely influential in the development of adult sex-typed behavior in wild-living Lemur catta. Little is known about sex-typed development in this species or in strepsirrhines in general. This research therefore addresses an important phylogenetic gap in our understanding of primate sex-typed development. Behavioral observations were carried out on mixed cross-sectional sample of adult females (n=10), adult males (n=8), yearling females (n=4), yearling males (n=4), and newborn females (n=16) and males (n=14) at Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve in southwest Madagascar from September 2008 to August 2009. Twenty-three sex-typed behaviors were identified in adults using linear mixed effects models and models of group response profiles through time. Of those, only eight had a pre-pubertal developmental component. Infants did not exhibit any sex differences in behavior, but juveniles (prepubertal, weaned individuals) resembled adults in their (relatively few) patterns of expression of sex-typed behavior. Most adult sex-typed behaviors in this species apparently develop at or after puberty and may be under gonadal hormone control. Those that develop before puberty do not likely depend on extrinsic sexually differentiation social interactions for their development, because there is no clear evidence that infants and juvenile male and females are not treated differently by others according to sex. If sexually differentiated social interactions are important for sex-typed behavioral development in subadult ,italic>Lemur catta, they are likely intrinsically (rather than extrinsically) driven.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Variation in dental microwear textures and dietary variation in African Old World monkeys (Cercopithecidae)

Description

Dietary diversity is an important component of species’s ecology that often relates to species’s abundance and geographic distribution. Additionally, dietary diversity is involved in many hypotheses regarding the geographic distribution

Dietary diversity is an important component of species’s ecology that often relates to species’s abundance and geographic distribution. Additionally, dietary diversity is involved in many hypotheses regarding the geographic distribution and evolutionary fate of fossil primates. However, in taxa such as primates with relatively generalized morphology and diets, a method for approximating dietary diversity in fossil species is lacking.

One method that has shown promise in approximating dietary diversity is dental microwear analyses. Dental microwear variance has been used to infer dietary variation in fossil species, but a strong link between variation in microwear and variation in diet is lacking. This dissertation presents data testing the hypotheses that species with greater variation in dental microwear textures have greater annual, seasonal, or monthly dietary diversity.

Dental microwear texture scans were collected from Phase II facets of first and second molars from 309 museum specimens of eight species of extant African Old World monkeys (Cercopithecidae; n = 9 to 74) with differing dietary diversity. Dietary diversity was calculated based on food category consumption frequency at study sites of wild populations. Variation in the individual microwear variables complexity (Asfc) and scale of maximum complexity (Smc) distinguished groups that were consistent with differences in annual dietary diversity, but other variables did not distinguish such groups. The overall variance in microwear variables for each species in this sample was also significantly correlated with the species’s annual dietary diversity. However, the overall variance in microwear variables was more strongly correlated with annual frequencies of fruit and foliage consumption. Although some variation due to seasonal and geographic differences among individuals was present, this variation was small in comparison to the variation among species. Finally, no association was found between short-term monthly dietary variation and variation in microwear textures.

These results suggest that greater variation in microwear textures is correlated with greater annual dietary diversity in Cercopithecidae, but that variation may be more closely related to the frequencies of fruit and foliage in the diet.

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Date Created
  • 2015

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Ecological role of dry-habitat chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) at Issa, Ugalla, Tanzania

Description

Identifying the ecological role, or niche, that a species occupies within their larger community elucidates environmental adaptability and evolutionary success. This dissertation investigates the occupied niche of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes

Identifying the ecological role, or niche, that a species occupies within their larger community elucidates environmental adaptability and evolutionary success. This dissertation investigates the occupied niche of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) living in an open, dry savanna-woodland environment by examining patterns of resource use and interspecific interactions. Data were collected October 2010--November 2011 at Issa, in the Ugalla region of western Tanzania, which is one of the driest, most open, and seasonal habitats inhabited by chimpanzees. Unlike most primatological studies which employ methods that include focal follows, this study focused instead on observing 'resource patches' for chimpanzees. Patch focals allow for the observation of all animals within a study area; capture resources that are not used by the study species; and are particularly well suited for unhabituated communities. In order to better understand relationships between environment and behavior, data collected at Issa are compared with published data from other chimpanzee populations. Issa chimpanzees were expected to have broader resource use than forest chimpanzees, as well as increased competition with other fauna, due to fewer available resources. However, in contrast to the assumption of food scarcity in dry habitats, dietary resources were available throughout the year. Like other populations, the diet of Issa chimpanzees consisted of mostly fruit, but unlike at other sites, the majority of plants consumed were woodland species. Additionally, although chimpanzees and other fauna shared spatial and dietary resources, there was only nominal overlap. These results point to extremely low levels of indirect competition between chimpanzees and other fauna. Despite extensive study of forest chimpanzees, little is known about their role within their faunal community in open, dry habitats, nor about how greater seasonality affects resource use. This project addresses both of these important issues and fosters novel approaches in anthropological studies, especially in reference to chimpanzee ecology and evolution. Understanding current chimpanzee behavioral relationships with their environments shapes hypotheses about their pasts, and also informs predictions about behaviors of similar taxa in paleo-environments. Lastly, examining the ecological role of chimpanzees within their larger communities will influence the formation of, as well as evaluate, conservation strategies.

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Date Created
  • 2013

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Development of feeding in ring-tailed lemurs

Description

Fundamental hypotheses about the life history, complex cognition and social dynamics of humans are rooted in feeding ecology - particularly in the experiences of young animals as they grow. However,

Fundamental hypotheses about the life history, complex cognition and social dynamics of humans are rooted in feeding ecology - particularly in the experiences of young animals as they grow. However, the few existing primate developmental data are limited to only a handful of species of monkeys and apes. Without comparative data from more basal primates, such as lemurs, we are limited in the scope of our understanding of how feeding has shaped the evolution of these extraordinary aspects of primate biology. I present a developmental view of feeding ecology in the ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) using a mixed longitudinal sample (infant through adult) collected at the Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve in southwestern Madagascar from May 2009 to March 2010. I document the development of feeding, including weaning, the transition to solid food, and how foods are included in infant diets. Early in juvenility ring-tailed lemurs efficiently process most foods, but that hard ripe fruits and insects require more time to master. Infants and juveniles do not use many of the social learning behaviors that are common in monkeys and apes, and instead likely rely both on their own trial and error and simple local enhancement to learn appropriate foods. Juvenile ring-tailed lemurs are competent and efficient foragers, and that mitigating ecological risks may not best predict the lemur juvenile period, and that increases in social complexity and brain size may be at the root of primate juvenility. Finally, from juvenility through adulthood, females have more diverse diets than males. The early emergence of sex differences in dietary diversity in juvenility that are maintained throughout adulthood indicate that, in addition to reproductive costs incurred by females, niche partitioning is an important aspect of sex differential feeding ecology, and that ontogenetic studies of feeding are particularly valuable to understanding how selection shapes adult, species-typical diets. Overall, lemur juvenility is a time to play, build social relationships, learn about food, and where the kernels of sex-typical feeding develop. This study of the ontogeny of feeding ecology contributes an important phylogenetic perspective on the relationship between juvenility and the emergent foraging behaviors of developing animals

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Molecular Evolution of Type I Collagen (COL1a1) and Its Relationship to Human Skeletal Diseases

Description

Skeletal diseases related to reduced bone strength, like osteoporosis, vary in frequency and severity among human populations due in part to underlying genetic differentiation. With >600 disease-associated mutations (DAMs), COL1a1,

Skeletal diseases related to reduced bone strength, like osteoporosis, vary in frequency and severity among human populations due in part to underlying genetic differentiation. With >600 disease-associated mutations (DAMs), COL1a1, which encodes the primary subunit of type I collagen, the main structural protein in bone, is most commonly associated with this phenotypic variation. Although numerous studies have explored genotype-phenotype relationships with COL1a1, surprisingly, no study has undertaken an evolutionary approach to determine how changes in constraint over time can be modeled to help predict bone-related disease factors. Here, molecular population and comparative species genetic analyses were conducted to characterize the evolutionary history of COL1a1. First, nucleotide and protein sequences of COL1a1 in 14 taxa representing ~450 million years of vertebrate evolution were used to investigate constraint across gene regions. Protein residues of historically high conservation are significantly correlated with disease severity today, providing a highly accurate model for disease prediction, yet interestingly, intron composition also exhibits high conservation suggesting strong historical purifying selection. Second, a human population genetic analysis of 192 COL1a1 nucleotide sequences representing 10 ethnically and geographically diverse samples was conducted. This random sample of the population shows surprisingly high numbers of amino acid polymorphisms (albeit rare in frequency), suggesting that not all protein variants today are highly deleterious. Further, an unusual haplotype structure was identified across populations, but which is only associated with noncoding variation in the 5' region of COL1a1 where gene expression alteration is most likely. Finally, a population genetic analysis of 40 chimpanzee COL1a1 sequences shows no amino acid polymorphism, yet does reveal an unusual haplotype structure with significantly extended linkage disequilibrium >30 kilobases away, as well as a surprisingly common exon duplication that is generally highly deleterious in humans. Altogether, these analyses indicate a history of temporally and spatially varying purifying selection on not only coding, but noncoding COL1a1 regions that is also reflected in population differentiation. In contrast to clinical studies, this approach reveals potentially functional variation, which in future analyses could explain the observed bone strength variation not only seen within humans, but other closely related primates.

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Date Created
  • 2010

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Locomotor function and the evolution of the primate pelvis

Description

The bony pelvis is a pivotal component of the locomotor system, as it links the hindlimb with the trunk and serves as anchorage for the primary propulsive musculature. Its shape

The bony pelvis is a pivotal component of the locomotor system, as it links the hindlimb with the trunk and serves as anchorage for the primary propulsive musculature. Its shape is therefore expected to be adapted to the biomechanical demands of habitual locomotor behavior. However, because the relationship between locomotor mechanics and pelvic morphology is not well understood, the adaptive significance of particular pelvic traits and overall pelvic shape remains unclear. This study used an integrative, dual approach to elucidate the relationship between form and function in the primate pelvis. A biomechanical cylinder model of pelvic stress resistance was tested using in vitro strain analysis of monkey and ape cadaver specimens. These results were used to refine adaptive hypotheses relating pelvic form to locomotor mechanics. Hypotheses of adaptation were then tested via univariate and geometric morphometric methods using a taxonomically broad, comparative sample of 67 primate taxa. These results suggest that the pelvis exhibits some iliac and ischial adaptations to stress resistance that are associated with the biomechanical demands of habitual locomotor loading and of body size. The ilium and ischium exhibit relatively low levels of strain during experimental loading as well as adaptations that increase strength. The pubis exhibits relatively high strains during loading and does not vary as predicted with locomotion. This integrated study clarifies the relationship between strain and adaptation; these results support the hypothesis that bones adapted to stress resistance exhibit low strains during typical loading. In general, the cylinder model of pelvic biomechanics is unsupported. While the predictions of loading regimes were generally rejected, the inability of these methods to test the possible occurrence of overlapping loading regimes precludes outright rejection of the cylinder model. However, the lack of support for predicted global responses to applied loading regimes suggests that pelvic stress resistance may be better explained by a model that accounts for local, functional subunits of pelvic structure. The coalescence of a localized model of pelvic biomechanics and comparative morphometrics has great potential to shed light on the evolution of the complex, multi-functional structure of the pelvis.

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Date Created
  • 2010