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photo: Simon NeubauerI am a physical anthropologist with a special interest in hominin brain evolution and the evolution of brain growth patterns. During ontogeny, the brain grows and develops according to a species-specific pattern. This pattern contributes to adult morphology and therefore can be used to inform evolutionary analyses.

For this research, I use MRI scans of brains as well as CT scans of dried crania to generate so-called virtual endocasts that approximate the size and shape of the brain. To quantify differences between species and intraspecific changes during ontogeny, I measure three-dimensional landmarks including semilandmarks on curves and surfaces and analyze the data using geometric morphometric methods. Based on endocasts, ontogenetic changes of brain size and shape can be analyzed also in fossil hominins. This work includes virtual reconstruction of fragmentary specimens.

After studying anthropology at the University of Vienna, I received my PhD from the University of Leipzig in 2010. In my PhD thesis, I developed a measurement protocol to analyze the form (size and shape) of endocasts and documented and compared the ontogenetic patterns in humans and our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees. This builds the framework to investigate the evolution of brain growth and development in hominins.

 

 

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Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Department of Human Evolution
Deutscher Platz 6
04103 Leipzig
Germany

office: U3.31
phone: 0049 (0) 341 3550 852
fax: 0049 (0) 341 3550 399
email: simon.neubauer eva.mpg.de