Saturday, September 7, 2013

Juvenile ape cranium from Miocene of China

Credit: Xue-Ping Ji, Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology

A team of researchers working at Shuitangba, a site in the Miocene of China, just announced a pretty awesome juvenile cranium of the Miocene ape genus Lufengpithecus.  This skull is important because of its relatively young age (about 6 million years), and because it doesn't closely resemble orangutans. Many researchers have considered Lufengpithecus to be closely related to modern orangutans, but if true, then Lufengpithecus should bear a striking resemblance to modern orangs by 6 million years ago. The authors argue that this isn't the case, and that Lufengpithecus doesn't appear similar to any modern apes.  Very cool fossil!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Academic Phylogeny of Physical Anthropology

Liza Shapiro, Brett Nachman and I have just launched a new website called Academic Phylogeny of Physical Anthropology. We are creating an interactive online genealogy of physical anthropology PhDs.  The idea was hatched over lunch in the department. We were discussing the great paper by Elizabeth Kelley and Robert Sussman in which they trace the academic genealogy of field primatologists. We were lamenting the fact that there wasn't a comparable tree for other sub-specializations within physical anthropology. We decided that tracing academic history is important, and that creating an online version driven by user submissions was the best way to build out the tree.

Please check out the site.  If you are a physical anthropology PhD (or know somebody who is), make sure their name appears. If it doesn't appear, be sure to add it!