From a bipedal ape to a talking ape, the phenotype of the hominins which form the Homo genus has changed dramatically throughout the past 2.5 million years.
By describing the extant of these phenotypic changes, palaeoanthropologists try to provide a framework within which the fossil record can be sorted in discrete entities (e.g. populations, paleo-species), and from which they can infer possible phylogenetic relationships between these entities.
One of the stumbling rocks that prevents palaeoanthropologists from better assessing our evolutionary history is the fragmentary nature of the limited fossil record.
The obvious way around this inherent problem is to discover more sites and more fossils.
However, despite numerous efforts from many research teams, the fossil record remains, and will most likely always be, an incomplete and arbitrary representation of the past.
In this talk, I will present some of my research on the evolutionary history of the Homo genus, ranging from archaeological fieldwork carried out in West Turkana to modelling methods which combine 3d geometric morphometrics with phylogeny to estimate possible ancestral phenotypes to given evolutionary hypotheses.
Les tutelles CNRS-MNHN-UPVD