Palaeoanthropology is the study of extinct and prehistoric hominins and their primate relatives
It is primarily concerned with the study of fossil hominin material and attempts to place the fossil record within a meaningful evolutionary context. Our researchers are actively involved in the recovery, investigation and interpretation of fossil human remains and their close relatives in Australia and the Asian region.
This theme has an active field program that works closely with Aboriginal custodians and international collaborators in investigating fossil and prehistoric skeletal remains.
2016-2019 Australian Research Council Linkage Project, $570,000
Investigating Holocene India—Australia Connections using Ancient Genomics
A number of studies of human migration suggest that after initial colonisation of Australia around 45,000 years ago, these people remained largely isolated until the arrival of Europeans. In contrast, recent studies have suggested that a wave of migration from India into Australia occurred approximately 4,230 years ago. However, a major drawback of these recent studies is that sequence data used was from modern indigenous Australians who were potentially admixed with Europeans. To address this issue, we will sequence complete genomes from sub-fossil bones of ancient Indian and Indigenous Australian people and directly investigate this possible India-Australia connection.
Collaborators: Professor David Lambert, Dr S. Sankarasubramanian,Professor Eske (Centre for GeoGenetics, Natural History Museum of Denmark), Dr K. Thangaraj (Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, India), Dr R. Li (Novogene Bioinformatics Technology Co. Ltd)
2016-2019 Australian Research Council Discovery Project, $502,246
Beyond migration and diffusion: The prehistoric mobility of people and ideas
The project builds on the strength of ongoing, innovative collaborations between archaeologists and geochemists to ask novel questions about the movement of people and ideas in prehistory. Spatial and temporal patterns in population mobility will be examined to clarify their relationship with the appearance of new and exotic materials, technologies and practices. We focus on the ways movement of individuals and groups of people is an instigator and a response to sociocultural change, utilising key European and Pacific Island examples to help build a truly comparative archaeology of phenomena of rapid social and economic change, with pertinence to general theories of innovation and adoption.
Collaborators: Dr Catherine Frieman, Professor Matthew Spriggs, Dr Rachel Wood, Professor Stephen Eggins, Professor Ian Williams (all Australian National University), Dr M Duval (CENIEH, Spain). Dr A. Valera (ERA Archaeology, Portugal), Dr. C. Ustunkaya.
- Smith, T.M., Austin, C., Hinde, K., Vogel, E.R., Arora, M. (2017) Cyclical nursing patterns in wild orangutans. Science Advances 3: e1601517
- Smith, T.M.*, Tafforeau, P.*, Le Cabec, A., Bonnin, A., Houssaye, A., Pouech, J., Moggi-Cecchi, J., Manthi, F., Ward, C., Makaremi, M., Menter, C.G. (2015) Dental ontogeny in Pliocene and early Pleistocene hominins. PLoS ONE 10(2): e0118118.* These authors contributed equally to this work.
- Smith, T.M. (2013) Teeth and human life-history evolution. Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 42:191-208.
- Austin, C.*, Smith, T.M.*, Bradman, A., Hinde, K., Joannes-Boyau, R., Bishop, D., Hare, D.J., Doble, P., Eskenazi, B., Arora, M. (2013) Barium distributions in teeth reveal early life dietary transitions in primates. Nature 498:216-219. * These authors contributed equally to this work.
- Smith, T.M., Tafforeau, P., Reid, D.J., Pouech, J., Lazzari, V., Zermeno, J.P., Guatelli-Steinberg, D., Olejniczak, A.J., Hoffman, A., Radovčić, J., Masrour, M., Toussaint, M., Stringer, C., Hublin, J-J. (2010) Dental evidence for ontogenetic differences between modern humans and Neanderthals. PNAS 107:20923-20928.
- Westaway, M. C., Durband, A. C., Groves, C. P., & Collard, M. (2015) Mandibular evidence supports Homo floresiensis as a distinct species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201418997.
- Westaway, M.C., Durband, A and Lambert, D. (2015) Human evolution in Sunda and Sahul and the continuing contributions of Professor Colin Groves. In (ed) M. Oxenham and A. Beale. Taxonomic Tapestries - The threads of evolutionary, behavioural and conservation research. ANU Press, Canberra.249-276.
- Carlson, K.J., Jashashvili, T., Houghton, K., Westaway, M.C., and Patel, B.A. (2013) Joint Loads in Marsupial Ankles Reflect Habitual Bipedalism versus Quadrupedalism. PLOS ONE 8(3).
- Westaway, M.C., Cupper, M.L., Johnston, H., and Graham, I. (2013) The Willandra Fossil Trackway: Assessment of ground penetrating radar survey results and additional OSL dating at a unique Australian site. Australian Archaeology 76: 6-11.
- Westaway, M.C., and Lambert, D. (2013) Origins of the First Australians. In (ed) C. Smith. The Global Atlas of Archaeology, Springer. Pp