Adaptations to locomotion in the primate pelvis: implications for human evolution

Dr Kristi L. Lewton will present the HERI Visiting Researcher Seminar with a talk entitled, "Adaptations to locomotion in the primate pelvis: implications for human evolution"


Dr Lewton is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cell & Neurobiology at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.

Inferring locomotion in fossil hominins requires a solid understanding of skeletal form-function relationships in living humans and non-human primates. The pelvic girdle, which forms a crucial link between the hindlimbs and torso, is expected to be adapted to the forces that occur during locomotion, and as such, its morphology should be representative of locomotor behavior. This research integrates approaches including experimental biomechanics, the comparative method, and morphological integration to test hypotheses regarding how the pelvis is adapted to bipedal locomotion. Using a broad, comparative sample of 800 primate individuals from 40 species, this study finds that the primate ilium in particular is strongly adapted to locomotor forces and operates as a module separate from the ischiopubis, resulting in very capable response to evolutionary selection pressures, without necessarily effecting change in other aspects of pelvic morphology. This work ultimately addresses how our hip bones were able to evolve in a relatively short period of geological time from the presumably ape-like pelvis of the last common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans in response to selection for bipedal behaviors.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016 - 10:00

Beattie Lecture Theatre 3.10