Title: Dissertation Practice Defense: Application of virtual anthropological techniques in the reconstruction and analysis of late Middle and Late Pleistocene hominin crania
Speaker: Abel Bosman
Venue and time: Großer Seminarraum 602 (Rümelinstraße 23), Nov. 5, 12:30 s.t.
The emergence of anatomical modernity remains one of the least understood processes in the evolution of the H. sapiens lineage. This is complicated by the fact that critical geographic areas such as eastern Africa present a fragmentary and sparse fossil record, which is especially true for the late Middle and Late Pleistocene geological time periods. As such, most current discussions on the phenotypic representation of anatomical modernity are centered around case-studies on several well-conserved fossils, while fragmented specimens from lesser known sites are disregarded. Moreover, even though specific anatomical characteristics have been proposed as phylogenetically informative, these are frequently only discussed in qualitative/polar contexts, while the extent of morphological variation demonstrated by inclusive analytical frameworks is often not recognized. This cumulative dissertation aims to resolve some of these issues by integrating morphometric analyses of discrete morphological features and neurocranial shape with a set of understudied crania. These specimens are analyzed in a virtual environment in order to systematically investigate the origins and evolution of H. sapiens. In doing so, this dissertation stresses the need for holistic qualitative and quantitative methods to address current issues in the field of paleoanthropology. Additionally, this dissertation emphasizes the effectiveness of recently developed technologies and virtual anthropology to bring new light to historic paleoanthropological finds.