Robert Franciscus (1995) edit
University of New Mexico
Fossil Hominins
Functional Morphology
Human Skeletal Biology
Current position: Professor of Anthropology
Current affiliation: University of Iowa
Research description: My research has focused primarily on the Middle and Later Pleistocene periods of genus Homo evolution. I have been particularly interested in the evolutionary significance of the distinctive Neandertal craniofacial pattern and the possible developmental, biomechanical, and stochastic models underlying its evolution over time in Europe and western Asia. I am also interested in the origins of modern humans and the evolutionary dynamics associated with the concept of anatomical “modernity.” I have focused morphologically on the mid-facial region of the skull given the central role that the nasal capsule plays in the development of the hominid cranium in terms of respiratory function, but I have also extended the anatomical focus to ribs and overall thoracic anatomy in fossil humans given its functional tie to respiration as well. My most recent collaborative project has focused on “self-domestication” as a driving mechanism for facial downsizing in modern humans stemming from decreased aggression and increased social tolerance compared to pre-modern, archaic humans. This work has incorporated wolf, dog, and Russian Siberian fox skeletal comparisons with that of fossil humans. Previous collaborative projects have included analysis and description of the early modern Gravettian crania and mandibles from Dolní Věstonice (Czech Republic); the mid-face of the early modern Peştera cu Oase 2 cranium (Romania) as well as the mid-face of the early Upper Paleolithic child’s skeleton from Lagar Velho (Portugal). Other past collaborative projects have included: 3-dimensional modeling of bite force and efficiency in Neandertals; assessment of craniofacial integration vs. modularity in living humans, chimpanzees and gorillas; and analyses of longitudinal craniofacial growth patterns in extant humans.
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