Bioarchaeological approach to the study of human evolution

Bioarchaeology is a discipline that studies the human skeletal remains of archaeological contexts. In this topic, the study of bony and dental markers of Homo sapiens provides to define the range of the modern human skeletal variability and to compare it with that of the past humans. This approach allows studying evolutionary and microevolutionary aspects of human populations.

Methods and techniques in the anthropological field to study the human evolution quickly evolve, but the human skeletal record is an unavoidable document useful to reconstruct the past human biology and behavior. The bioarchaeological approach allows studying the features and distribution of many normal and pathological markers, throughout classic morphometrical approach and geometric morphometrics (GM).

In this field, we study the life style (e.g. diet, activity) and health (e.g. infectious diseases) of past human populations, the musculoskeletal stress markers and the morphometric variability of the lower limbs in past and modern humans to understand the evolution of posture and bipedalism. Another research line refers to the reconstruction of osteobiography and identification of human relics.

The research deals with Pleistocene remains (Neandertals of Krapina 130 Ka BP, Croatia) and more recent specimens of Homo sapiens (from Holocene transition up to historical periods). To outline and interpret the variability of those remains, the study of the well-documented (for age-at-death, sex, cause of death and activity) human skeletal collections of the Museum System of  the University of Bologna, coming from many modern (19°-20° centuries) Italian cemeteries, makes an important role. These collections allow testing the common methods for the reconstruction of the biological profile and standardizing new methods in Forensics.

 Collaborators: Valentina Mariotti (PhD in Anthropology, UNIBO), Benedetta Bonfiglioli (PhD in Anthropology, UNIBO), Maria Elena Pedrosi (PhD in Biodiversity and Evolution, UNIBO), Viola Tanganelli (PhD in Biologia Evoluzionistica, UNISI), Rita Sorrentino (Post Doc in Anthropology, UNIBO), Annalisa Pietrobelli (PhD in Science of Earth, Life and Environment)

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