The evolution of brain development

Fossil reconstruction of the Dikika child

Brain imprints in fossil skulls of the species Australopithecus afarensis (famous for “Lucy”, and the “Dikika child” from Ethiopia shown on this page) shed new light on the evolution of brain growth and organization. Several years of painstaking fossil reconstruction, and counting of dental growth lines, yielded an exceptionally preserved brain imprint of the Dikika child, and a precise age at death. The scientific paper can be found here.

Fossil reconstruction

As fossils are usually found broken into many pieces, and only partially complete, a central topic of my work is the virtual reconstruction of fossils using computed tomographic scans. I am a specialist for fossil reconstruction, and the statistical analysis of shape — a set of methods called «geometric morphometrics».

Figures and animations by Philipp Gunz (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)