Human Uniqueness

Exploring the emergence of uniquely human attributes and understanding our species development and its indelible impact on the planet.

►Origins of Early Human Adaptations and Life-ways

Cutting-edge analytical studies of social, ecological, and life-history adaptations among living primates and humans link the present to fossil and archaeological records and help create comprehensive explanations for events in human evolution. (Image courtesy John Reader)

IHO expanded into functional morphology, biomechanics, and life history and development with the addition of Gary Schwartz. Their research extracts from the fossils details of the organisms biology with state of the art laboratory techniques.

Research Projects

The relationship of anatomy of fossil bones and teeth to the life-ways of early hominins through a multi-institution collaborative project (NSF-funded) bridging paleontological, experimental, and biomechanical-modeling approaches to the evolution of hominin dietary adaptations. 

Evolutionary basis of the uniquely extended pattern of human growth and development through the timing of dental growth, which is linked to important biological variables such as brain size, gestation length, and longevity.

Major Funding

Wenner-Gren Foundation ($19,465) 2013.
A dental topographic analysis of deciduous tooth wear in hominoids. 
PI: Schwartz, G.

Leakey Foundation ($13,500). 2008.
Locomotor Function and Evolution of the Primate Pelvis.
M. Spencer. 

National Science Foundation (HOMINID) ($178,822). 2007.
Collaborative Research—Integrative Analysis of Hominid Feeding Biomechanics.
Collaborative research with D. Strait, B. Richmond, M. Spencer, C. Ross, P. Dechow, B. Wright, L. Parr, I. Gross, Q. Wang.  

Wenner-Gren Foundation ($24,546). 2006.
Evolutionary Morphology of the Anthropoid Wrist and the Evolution of Knuckle-Walking in the Hominidae.
PI: M. Spencer. 

Notable Publications

Growth, development, and life history throughout the evolution of Homo.
G.T. Schwartz. Current Anthropology. 2012. 53 (S6) S395–S408.

Life-history inference in the early hominins Australopithecus and Paranthropus.
J. Kelley and G.T. Schwartz. International Journal of Primatology. 2012. 33:6 (1332–1363).

Dental development and life history in living African and Asian apes.
J. Kelley and G. T. Schwartz. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2010. 107: 1035–1040.

The feeding biomechanics and dietary ecology of Australopithecus africanus.
D.S. Strait, G.W. Weber, S. Neubauer, J. Chalk, B.G. Richmond, P.W. Lucas, M.A. Spencer, C. Schrein, P.C. Dechow, C.F. Ross, I.R. Grosse, B.W. Wright, P. Constantino, B.A.Wood, B. Lawn, W.L. Hylander, Q. Wang, C. Byron, D. Slice, and A. Smith. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2009. 2124–2129.

►Evolutionary Foundations of Human Uniqueness

In 2014, IHO began an ambitious research program funded by the John Templeton Foundation—a collaborative inquiry into the evolutionary foundations of human uniqueness. Spearheaded by IHO Director William Kimbel, the $4.9 million, three-year grant, the largest of its type for human origins research, will support 11 linked investigations of where, when, and how unique human capacities for complex cognition, cumulative culture, and large-scale cooperation emerged. The grant includes $400,000 to fund a permanent state-of-the-art 2-and 3-D imaging lab at ASU and $200,000 to develop innovative new teaching and learning tools about human origins for use in primary- and secondary-school classrooms. 

Major Funding

John Templeton Foundation ($4,934,107 over 3 years).2014.
The Evolutionary Foundations of Human Uniqueness 
PIs: W. Kimbel (lead), R. Boyd, C. Campisano, K. Hill, D. Johanson, J. Kelley, C. Marean, S. Mathew, K. Reed, G. Schwartz, J. Silk.