The story of early human evolution is being reshaped by recent research that provides convergent evidence of taxonomic and behavioural diversity in early hominins. Our work on early hominin taxonomic diversity includes the description of new hominin species, improved characterisation of known species, and methodological advancements in testing for the presence of multiple species in a fossil sample. So as to better understand behavioural diversity, we investigate osteological remains to infer early hominin locomotion and tool use, as well as zooarchaeological evidence of tool use and dietary ecology.
Determining the number of species represented in a fossil sample and the identity of those species poses a challenge for paleoanthropology. The fossilized skeletal remains are typically incomplete, sample sizes are small and specimens can be poorly preserved. Researchers in the department use the methods of “Virtual Paleoanthropology” to maximise the quality of data extracted from fossil remains and to build a solid comparative framework for interpretation.