Tag: Holly M. Dunsworth

Holly Dunsworth is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, where she teaches courses on human evolution. She does palaeontological research at the early Miocene sites on Rusinga Island, Kenya, where some of the most ancient fossil apes, such as Proconsul, are preserved — in this, she picked up where her retired doctoral adviser, Alan Walker, left off. She cut her palaeoanthropological teeth at Koobi Fora, Kenya, with initial interest in the evolution of Homo erectus. Since then, she has investigated the throwing ability of fossil hominins, analysed the functional morphology of Proconsul feet, and tested the ‘obstetrical dilemma’ hypothesis for human pregnancy evolution. She is presently working on a book about humankind’s unique understanding of procreation, and she regularly contributes to the science blog The Mermaid’s Tale.

Fossil Focus: Encephalized bipedal apes

Fossil Focus
by Holly M. Dunsworth Humans would not have evolved if the ancestors of the African great apes had not. The ape fossil record begins 23 million years ago with the earliest putative apes, including Morotopithecus and Proconsul (Figure 1), from sites in East Africa, followed by many others throughout Africa, Europe and Asia. Although this record is fairly rich, it has done no better than DNA-based estimates at helping researchers to determine how living apes are related. Genetic studies estimate that gorillas split off from other apes about 9 million to 8 million years ago, and that the ancestors of bonobos and chimpanzees began evolving separately from the ancestors of humans 7 million to 6 million years ago. Comparative anatomy, physiology, behaviour and genetics provide enough e...