22.01.2019 - 09:25
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Department of Human Evolution

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Deutscher Platz 6
04103 Leipzig

phone: +49 (341) 3550 - 350
fax: +49 (0341) 3550 - 399

e-mail: streiber@[>>> Please remove the brackets! <<<]eva.mpg.de

Alexander Stößel

Associate Researcher

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

phone: 0049 (0) 341 3550 365
fax: 0049 (0) 341 3550 399
e-mail: alexander_stoessel@[>>> Please remove the brackets! <<<]eva.mpg.de


Institute of Systematic Zoology and Evolutionary Biology
Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Erbertstraße 1
D-07743 Jena

e-mail: alexander.stoessel@[>>> Please remove the brackets! <<<]uni-jena.de
phone: +49-3641-949147

I am an Associate Researcher of the Department of Human Evolution at the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and Assistant Professor in the Institute of Systematic Zoology and Evolutionary Biology, FSU Jena. I have a background in vertebrate morphology (esp. mammals and birds) and I am particularly interested in the evolutionary and functional morphology of the mammalian auditory region.

Morphology, function and evolution of the primate and mammalian auditory region

Using microCT, soft-tissue visualization, 3D geometric morphometrics, biomechanics, and also experimental approaches common in auditory research my aim is to better understand the form-function relationships in the mammalian auditory region (external ear, middle ear including ear ossicles, and cochlea of inner ear). Since the auditory region is not exclusively shaped by hearing I am also interested in the co-variation of the ear with other parts of the cranium. Furthermore, my research has shown that particularly the shape of the middle ear ossicles shows a highly species-specific morphology making these small bones valuable taxonomic markers. Most of my work focuses on primates and especially on extant and extinct hominoids. Here, I am particularly interested in the question if the morphological variation and the relationship between form and function observed in extant primates allows for better insights regarding hearing capacities of extinct human ancestors (fossil hominins). However, my research interests are not restricted to primates and thus I am also working on other mammalian groups including bats and afrotherians.

The three ear ossicles (here from a chimpanzee) are the smallest bones of the mammalian body.
3D reconstruction of tympanic membrane, ossicular chain, bony labyrinth, and soft-tissue cochlea of a modern human (green: perilymphatic space, blue cochlear duct, red: basilar membrane).

Comparative and functional morphology of the bony labyrinth of mammals

Working directly with Fred Spoor, Romain David and Philipp Gunz my second research topic focuses on the morphology and function of the bony labyrinth of mammals. The bony labyrinth is located in the petrous part of the temporal bone and houses the cochlea as the organ of hearing and the vestibule and semicircular canals for the perception of spatial orientation and movement. We are investigating the bony labyrinth by using microCT data and geometric morphometrics using 3D landmarks. I’m interested in the bony labyrinth because its morphology is relevant for taxonomic distinctions between hominin species. Also, although far from being trivial, there is a functional link between bony morphology and aspects of locomotion and hearing. Studying for example the semicircular canal system thus offers the chance to learn more about the various adaptations to specific locomotor behaviors seen in extant mammals but also allows investigating locomotion of extinct mammals including hominins.

Skull of a common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and the same skull made transparent in order show position of bony labyrinth
Illustration of landmark and semilandmarks introduced by Gunz et al. (2012) used in geometric morphometric analysis of bony labyrinth