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Evolution of the Ape Forelimb: Evidence from Internal Bone Structure (MOSAIC)
Start date: Jun 1, 2016, End date: May 31, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Understanding the locomotor behaviour of our Miocene ape ancestors is critical to reconstructing the evolution of walking on two feet, or bipedalism. The Miocene (20-5 million years ago (Ma)) epoch is crucial because it is during this period that the morphological features of living great apes, including humans, were defined. In this respect, Miocene apes show unique morphological combinations that are unlike any living primate, known as "mosaic morphologies", which include derived (ape-like) and primitive (generalised) features more suitable to provide a model from which bipedal fossil humans (hominins) – our direct ancestors – might have evolved. This project uses novel 3D methods (microCT scans and imaging sotfware) to conduct the first holistic analysis of the internal structure of Miocene ape forelimb bones. Bone remodels throughout life in response to load; variation in internal structure thus correlates with forelimb use and offers a more direct window into behaviour than external morphology alone. The bony joints of the forelimb on an array of extant Primate species, including apes and monkeys, will be analysed, shedding new light on Miocene ape locomotion, the evolution of living apes and the emergence of human bipedalism."
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