Primate Anatomy, Locomotion, and Ecology On the Savanna (PALEOS)
With Prof. Tracy Kivell and PhD student Rhianna Drummond-Clarke, we are investigating how Issa's primates can inform our understanding of human origins. In the absence of direct fossil evidence, extant chimpanzees that live in a savanna habitat analogous to that of early hominins (savanna woodland, mosaic landscapes, hereafter “savanna-mosaic”) provide ideal models to test the “savanna effect” on ape (locomotor and ecological) behaviour. Investigations to date, however, have focused on forest-dwelling communities, limiting our knowledge of the full range of chimpanzee behavior and its application for modelling hominin evolution. A key aim of this collaboration is to address questions of how a semi-arboreal, large-bodied ape interacts with its savanna-mosaic habitat and possible ecological drivers of hominin traits, with a focus on positional (locomotion + posture) behaviour and bipedalism, hand-use, cranial-dental morphology and diet, postcranial morphology, and foraging ecology.
The first paper to emerge out of this collaboration revealed unexpected results about chimpanzee postural behaviour, terrestriality, and bipedalism. Read it here!