Director: Dr. Terry Harrison
We are interested in all aspects of the paleobiology and phylogeny of primates through the study of comparative morphology and the fossil record. The aim is to gain a better understanding of the evolutionary history of humans and their close relatives. The focus is on determining phylogenetic relationships and in reconstructing the dietary and locomotor behavior of fossil primates, including early hominins. An important component of this research effort is paleontological fieldwork at Miocene and Plio-Pleistocene sites in Africa and Asia. Terry Harrison is co-director (with Dr. Amandus Kwekason of the National Museum of Tanzania) of an ongoing long-term paleoanthropological project at the renowned fossil hominin site of Laetoli in northern Tanzania. The main aims of the project are to recover additional fossil remains of Australopithecus afarensis and Paranthropus aethiopicus, and to learn more about their paleobiology and paleoecology. Other current projects include studies of the relationships and paleobiology of Miocene and Pliocene primates, including early hominins, from East Africa, as well as collaborative projects investigating Miocene catarrhines and Pleistocene hominoids from China and Indo-Pakistan.
Equipment and Resources
The lab houses comparative skeletal material of a diversity of extant vertebrates, as well as an extensive cast collection of fossil primates. The lab has access to an Artec Space Spider scanner, MicroScribe 3D digitizer, Next Engine laser scanner, and Dino-Lite digital microscopes.