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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

Stephanie Melillo

Post-Doctoral Researcher

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

phone: 0049 (0) 341 3550 865
fax: 0049 (0) 341 3550 399
e-mail: stephanie_melillo@[>>> Please remove the brackets! <<<]eva.mpg.de

Research Interests
Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

Stephanie Melillo is a paleoanthropologist interested in the evolution and adaptation of fossil hominins. One focus of Stephanie’s research is the evolutionary transformation of the shoulder. She is particularly interested in understanding shoulder structure and function in early hominins like Australopithecus afarensis, and in addressing questions about when the unique structure of the modern human shoulder appeared. Stephanie conducted the comparative description of the scapula and clavicle from the Au. afarensis partial skeleton nicknamed “Kadanuumuu”. She is using geometric morphometric methods to improve reconstruction of the shoulder skeleton in combination with musculoskeletal modeling to better understand functional capabilities.

Stephanie is also interested in the paleobiology and systematics of early hominins. Stephanie is co-PI of the Woranso-Mille Paleontological Research Project (Afar region, Ethiopia) with Yohannes Haile-Selassie (since 2019) and has been a project member since 2006. Stephanie is involved in studying the hominin craniodental fossils from Woranso-Mille, which have been particularly important in addressing evolutionary relationships among the early australopiths and taxonomic diversity in the middle Pliocene. The Woranso-Mille team recently announced the first cranium known for the species Australopithecus anamensis.

Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

  • Structure and Function of the hominoid shoulder
  • Evolutionary history of early Australopithecus
  • Virtual anthropology and geometric morphometrics


Stanford University, Department of Biology
Anatomy of the Australopithecus scapula and evolution of the human shoulder: insights from a new fossil specimen, KSD-VP-1/1 
Case Western Reserve University, Department of Anthropology
Enamel microstructure and crown formation time in the platyrrhine Alouatta palliata 

Academic Positions

2013 - present

Postdoctoral fellow,
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology,
Department of Human Evolution

2012 - 2013Visiting Professor,
University of California, Santa Cruz, Department of Anthropology
California Institute of Technology, Division of Humanities and Social Sciences
Stanford University, Department of Anthropology


Woranso-Mille Paleontological Research Project (Afar, Ethiopia)
2019 - presentco-PI with Yohannes Haile-Selassie 
2006 - presentproject member
Paleoanthropological Survey of the Gobaad Basin, Djibouti
2007project member, led by David DeGusta and Sonia Harmand
Geological and Paleontological Exploration of the Southern Weyto Basin, Ethiopia
2005, 2007project member, led by David DeGusta
Gona Project (Afar, Ethiopia)
2006student participant, led by Sileshi Semaw


Departmental and Institutional Service
2018 - presentInstitute Seminar committee 
2016 - presentLibrary acquisitions consultant
2018Departmental review committee


  • Journal of Human Evolution
  • Journal of Anatomy
  • Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology Series (Springer)
  • Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health

Professional Memberships

  • European Society for the Study of Human Evolution
  • American Association of Physical Anthropologists
  • African Rift Valley Research Consortium

PhD Supervision

2017 - presentJulia van Beesel
Exploring the functional morphology of the ape shoulder through musculoskeletal modeling 


International Max Planck Research School
2013Human Paleontology
University of California, Santa Cruz
2013Introduction to Human Evolution
2013Human Adaptability
2013History and Theory of Physical Anthropology
2012Human Skeletal Biology (osteology lab course)
2012Human Evolution, upper division (with lab component)
California Institute of Technology
2012Primate Behavior
2012Introduction to Human Evolution
Stanford University
2011Introduction to Biological Anthropology
Teaching Assistantships
2010Human Origins
2009Faunal Analysis
2008Field Seminar in Paleoanthropology
2006Introduction to Prehistoric Archaeology


*Authors contributed equally

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