Eve Boyle

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

George Washington U.

Grant number

Gr. 9585

Approve Date

April 13, 2018

Project Title

Boyle, Eve K., George Washington U., Washington, DC - To aid research on 'Beyond the Skull: Identifying Potential Correlates of Diet in the Primate Torso,' supervised by Dr. Bernard Wood

Preliminary abstract: Differences in fossil hominin torso remains (comprised of the thorax, vertebral column, and pelvis) are often cited as evidence for diet, gut size, or abdominal volume differences between species. Influential hypotheses in paleoanthropology, including the expensive tissue hypothesis and the cooking hypothesis, rely in part on the assumed relationship between diet and the torso. However, the extent of any relationships between diet, the gut, and torso form have not been tested in extant primates. This project will therefore identify if the extant primate torso carries a dietary signal that is independent of phylogeny, body size, and locomotion. Measurements taken on 3D scans of ribs, vertebrae, and pelves for 50 primate species with varying diets and locomotor modes will be compared to existing data on gut surface area and percent feeding time on specific food items. Additional data on abdominal volume will be taken on a smaller sample of 3D scans of articulated torsos, which will also be compared with gut size and diet data. After testing whether the extant primate torso is related to diet and gut size, I will be able to determine whether differences in fossil hominin torso dimensions could reflect dietary differences amongst species. The results of this project will influence how we infer diet from fossil primate remains, and affect how we interpret hominin torso anatomy.