Kelsey Pugh

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York, Hunter College, City U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9297

Approve Date

April 19, 2016

Project Title

Pugh, Kelsey D., City U. of New York, Hunter College, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Early Hominin Evolution Within the Broader Context of Mid-Late Miocene Hominoid Phylogeny,' supervised by Dr. Christopher C. Gilbert

Preliminary abstract: The living great apes, humans, and their fossil relatives (Family Hominidae) are among the most intensively studied mammalian groups, yet many aspects of their shared evolutionary history are not well understood. In particular, phylogenetic relationships among Mid-Late Miocene (ca. 16-5 million years ago) fossil hominoids, as well as between fossil and living hominoids, are poorly resolved. This dearth of resolution persists in spite of many recent fossil discoveries, due in part to a lack of recent comprehensive analyses. While previous phylogenetic studies have exclusively examined hominin or fossil hominoid relationships, none have taken a broader view in attempting to analyze early hominin evolution within the larger Mid-Late Miocene ape radiation. The main objective of this project is to perform an updated, modern phylogenetic analysis of all known Mid-Late Miocene hominoid taxa, including the earliest potential hominins Ardipithecus, Orrorin, and Sahelanthropus, whose relationships to other hominids have been subject to intensive debate. By rooting reconstructions in the phylogenetic context of the Miocene, this study will create more robust and lasting hypotheses about ancestral hominid nodes, including the last common ancestor of Pan and Homo, and will facilitate a better understanding of hominid locomotor evolution, including orthogrady, vertical climbing, forelimb suspension, knuckle-walking, and bipedalism, thereby providing a necessary foundation for future research in great ape and early hominin evolution.