Hominin Paleoecology

Hominin Paleoecology

Paranthropus boisei (OH5)

Cast photo (left) cc-by-sa-3.0 Guerin Nicolas

Much of the Menegaz lab's work on musculoskeletal plasticity is lab-based and uses small mammal research models. However, this experimental work can potentially help us understand the role of diet in early human evolution. Established form-function patterns can be applied to the fossil record to help us understand dietary variation among Plio-Pleistocene hominins, and the role that dietary niches and fallback foods played in sympatric speciation and interspecific competition.

Past work has examined the masticatory significance of structures such as the hard palate in Paranthropus, and cranial vault thickness and shape in early Homo. The Menegaz lab's work on dietary variability has also investigated the morphological correlates of fallback food usage in order to better understand the ecology of Plio-Pleistocene hominins from east and south Africa.