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Max Planck Weizmann Center for Integrative Archaeology and Anthropology (2014-2018)

The Max Planck Weizmann Center for Integrative Archaeology and Anthropology (MPWC) was an interdisciplinary cooperation between the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA) in Leipzig, Germany, and the Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS) in Rehovot, Israel. The central goal of the MPWC was to better understand human evolution by drawing on expertise from archaeology, anthropology, biology, physics and material sciences. The research at the MPWC was divided into two tracks: Research at the WIS (Track 1) was dedicated to the timing of archaeological events by high resolution radiocarbon dating, while researchers at the MPI (Track 2) investigated the relationship between structure and function in bones and teeth.

The MPWC was co-directed by Prof. Jean-Jacques Hublin and Prof. Steve Weiner. Track 1 was led by Dr. Elisabetta Boaretto in Rehovot, and track 2 by Dr. Kornelius Kupczik in Leipzig. Both tracks were closely affiliated with the Kimmel Center for Archaeological Science and the Department of Structural Biology, both at WIS, and the Department of Human Evolution at MPI-EVA.


  • 07/11/2018: "Time wears on: Assessing how bone wears using 3D surface texture analysis" is the title of the latest publication coauthored by Ellen Schulz-Kornas. With a novel quantitative and experimental approach the researchers studied how traces of wear in animal bone tools, brought about by manufacturing and use, change and develop over time.
    doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0206078
  • 15/09/2018: We are very proud to announce that Julia Stuhlträger won the ESHE 2018 Pecha Kucha prize for her presentation on "Season's Eatings! Establishing reference data for revealing seasonality from tooth wear in chimpanzee molars".
  • 11/09/2018: It is conference time! Kornelius Kupczik, Julia Stuhlträger and Viviana Toro-Ibacache present the MPWC at the 8th Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Evolution (ESHE) in Faro, while Ellen Schulz-Kornas and Franziska Goldner contribute to the 111th Meeting of the German Zoological Society (DZG) in Greifswald. 
  • 29/08/2018: Kornelius Kupczik coauthores a publication "On the relationship between maxillary molar root shape and jaw kinematics in Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus robustus". The researchers analysed the splay and orientation of fossil hominin tooth roots and found that also the way of chewing had an impact on certain morphological traits of the skull.
    doi: 10.1098/rsos.180825    Press release (English)    Press release (German)
  • 20/08/2018: The latest article co-authored by Ellen Schulz-Kornas is out today. The researchers examined the functional anatomy of the equine temporomandibular joint (TMJ), focusing on the histology of the articular surfaces and underlining tissues. The results allow insight into the biomechanical characteristics of the joint components and structure-function relations. 
    doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2018.08.003
  • 10/08/2018: Adam van Casteren and his colleagues from the MPI-EVAN publish their latest articles on "Food mechanical properties and isotopic signatures in forest versus savannah dwelling eastern chimpanzees". They found that savannah chimpanzees eat mechanically challenging foods which may result in higher selective pressures on their chewing apparatus. 
    doi: 10.1038/s42003-018-0115-6  Press release (English)  Press release (German)
  • 04/06/2018: Ellen Schulz-Kornas and colleagues investigated nano-indentation of native phytoliths and dental tissues for their latest publication which came out today.They challenge the claim that tooth wear is brought about by chewing food, suggesting instead a higher impact of exogenous abrasives.
    doi: 10.3897/evolsyst.2.22678
  • 23/05/2018: The new paper by Adam van Casteren and colleagues demonstrates that using metal proxies may be unsuitable for understanding the mechanics of dental microwear. Instead, they present a new model of texture formation based on particle properties.
    doi: 10.1098/rsos.171699
  • 15/05/2018: Our doctoral student and former staff member Stefan Curth successfully defends his dissertation on dog and wolf skull shape variation at the University of Jena. Congratulations to that!
  • 10-14/04/2018: Kornelius Kupczik, Ellen Schulz-Kornas and Adam van Casteren attend the Meetings of the Paleoanthropology Society and the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPAs) which this year take place in Austin, Texas. They represent the MPWC with poster contributions and conference presentations.
  • 15/03/2018: The publication on "The biting performance of Homo sapiens and Homo heidelbergensis", coauthored by visiting researcher Viviana Toro-Ibacache, is now available online in the Journal of Human Evolution.
    doi: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2018.02.010
  • 03/2018: The latest article coauthored by Michael A. Berthaume and Kornelius Kupczik is out now. Comparing characteristics (e. g. shape, size and wear) of molars in homo naledi and other South African hominins, the researchers assume that the diet of homo naledi has differed from that of other South African hominins.
    doi: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2018.02.006              Press release
  • 18/12/2017: Adam van Casteren reviews a paper published by Sugasawa et al. earlier this month. Adam's comments can be read in Current Biology under the title "Tool Use: Crows Craft the Right Tool for the Job".
    doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.10.022
  • 27/11/2017: A paper coauthored by Kornelius Kupczik and our visiting researchers Julián Balanta Melo and Viviana Toro Ibacache is published in the Annals of Anatomy. It focuses on the "Early molecular response and microanatomical changes in the masseter muscle and mandibular head after botulinum toxinintervention in adult mice".
    doi: 10.1016/j.aanat.2017.11.009
  • 24/11/2017: Ellen Schulz-Kornas coauthores a chapter of the companion volume to the special exhibition on "Climate Powers - Driving Force of Evolution" recently inaugurated at the State Museum of Prehistory Halle (Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte).
    Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte Halle: Klimagewalten - Treibende Kraft der Evolution
  • 04/10-07/10/2017 The MPWC was well represented at the 17th International Symposium on Dental Morphology and 2nd congress of the International Association for Paleodontology (ISDM-IAPO) held in Bordeaux, France. Presentations and posters by Kornelius Kupczik, Ellen Schulz-Kornas, Julia Stuhlträger, Michael Berthaume, Julián Balanta Melo, Andrea Eyquem Reyes and Viviana Toro-Ibacache on tooth wear and topography, bone structure and evo-devo of teeth.
    ISDM-IAPO program including abstracts
  • 09/2017: We would like to extend a warm welcome to our guest researchers from the University of Chile, Julián Balanta Melo and Andrea Eyquem Reyes, wishing both a good start and a fruitful stay at the MPWC.
  • 25/08/2017: Adam van Casteren and Kornelius Kupczik are invited to give a talk at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam-Golm. They speak on "What's bothering teeth? Understanding the scale and scope of biological threats to dental structures."
  • 31/07/2017: The latest paper coauthored by Kornelius Kupczik has been published in the Journal of Anatomy. The piece of research entitled "Congenital muscle dystrophy and diet consistency affect mouse skull shape differently" discusses how the skull shape in mice is affected in response to differences in diet and muscle function. doi: 10.1111/joa.12664
  • 25/07-27/07/2017: Adam Hartstone-Rose from the University of South Carolina is our guest and we are delighted to hear about his latest research. In this talk he discusses the functional correlates of primate muscle fiber architecture based on analyses of physical dissections as well as new approaches to contrast enhanced digital CTs.
  • 14/07/2017: nature.com publishes a paper co-authored by Kornelius Kupczik on “The dental phenotype of hairless dogs with FOXI3 haploinsufficiency”. The research team led by K. Kupczik (MPWC) and Martin S. Fischer (Friedrich Schiller Universität Jena) shows that the FOXI3 gene is involved in dental cusp formation. Thus, they suggest that the gene may have played a role in evolutionary changes of human tooth morphology.
    doi:10.1038/s41598-017-05764-5        Press release of the Max Planck Society
  • 19/04-22/04/2017: Kornelius Kupczik, Ellen Schulz-Kornas, Michael Berthaume and Edwin Dickinson present the latest research of the MPWC and its collaborators at the 86th Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) in New Orleans contributing with three posters and two podium presentations. The contributions will deal with dental microwear signatures, the structure-function relationship in macaque jaw muscles, jaw kinematics in South African Plio-Pleistocene hominins, dietary abrasiveness and chewing efficiency in chimpanzees, and the mechanical properties of chimpanzee food.
  • 30/01-01/02/2017: We are excited to have Prof. Carol Ward and Dr Emily Middleton from the University of Missouri. Many thanks for holding a talk on "The shape of hominin origins"!
  • 04/10-06/10/2016: Prof. Dr Thomas M. Kaiser from the Centrum für Naturkunde (CeNak) at the University of Hamburg is our guest.
  • 30/10-04/11/2016: Kornelius Kupczik, Michael Berthaume and Julia Stuhlträger had the chance to work at Ditsong National Museum of Natural History in Pretoria, South Africa, where they studied the museum's collection of Plio-Pleistocene hominin fossils.
  • 23/09/2016: The latest article co-autored by Ellen Schulz-Kornas is available online on nature.com. It discusses "Tooth wear as a means to quantify intra-specific variations in diet and chewing movements" in voles (doi:10.1038/srep34037).
  • 14/09-17/09/2016: Ellen Schulz-Kornas and Julia Stuhlträger attend the 6th Annual Meeting of the European Society for the study of Human Evolution (ESHE) in Madrid where Julia Stuhlträger et al. contribute with a poster on Julias PhD project on the "Dietary composition and tooth wear in forest chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus)".
  • 09/09-11/09/2016: Kornelius Kupczik, Viviana Toro-Ibacache (currently invited researcher at the MPWC) and Gabriele A. Macho (University of Oxford, UK) will give a joint presentation at the 18th Annual Conference of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO) talking on the topic of "Tooth root morphology as possible indicator of dietary diversity among South AfricanPlio-Pleistocene hominins".
  • 06/09-14/09/2016: We welcome Peter Stamos from the University of California as our guest at the MPWC. In a talk on "Metaphyseal surface morphology as a predictor of locomotor behavior" he presents an outline of his PhD proposal and discusses the preliminary results of his research so far. 
  • 04/09-07/09/2016: The 90th Annual Meeting of the German Society of Mammalogy (DGS) takes place in Berlin and the MPWC is represented by Ellen Schulz-Kornas and Julia Stuhlträger. The  poster Julia presented at the conference (Stuhlträger et al. 2016: "Grinding away in feeding ecology: Exploring sexual and seasonal variation in chimpanzees") wins the "Traditional Poster Awards for Junior Scientists" as well as the "Marzipan Contest for the Fine Mammalogical Poster 2016".
  • 21/08-27/08/2016: Adam van Casteren attends the Joint meeting of the International Primatological Society and the American Society of Primatologists (IPS-ASP) in Chicago, Illinois where he talkes about the physical properties and abrasive loads of plants consumed by eastern chimpanzees (pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) in forest vs. savannah environments. Along with colleagues he also presents a poster on the "Anterior dental ingestion in sapajus: linking craniofacial form and food mechanics".
  • 06/07/2016: Federico Becerra presents his latest research on bite force and biting behavior in rats at the annual meeting of the Society for Experimental Biology (SEB) in Brighton. In his study conducted at MPWC, rats bred to be aggressive towards humans bit often and with lots of force, whereas tame rates never bit at all. These findings will allow to better assess the effects of domestication in other animals as well. 
    SEB press release
  • 29/06-03/07/2016: MPWC members attend this year's International Congress of Vertebrate Morphology (ICVM) in Washington D.C., contributing with various talks and posters:
    • Kornelius Kupczik will give a talk on bite force generation and chewing efficiency,
    • Ellen Schulz-Kornas is invited speaker at the Mammalian Feeding System session presenting on tooth wear, textures and feeding biomechanics,
    • Adam van Casteren will give insight into the interplay between tooth materials, tooth structures and foods, and
    • Michael Berthaume will speak on modelling microscopic tooth wear.
    • Federico Becerra will present a poster on the domestication effect on skull morphology and biting performance in rats, and
    • Maximilian Bemman will contribute with a poster on a novel experimental approach on bite force measurments in vivo.
  • May to June 2016: Kornelius Kupczik gives three talks at academic institutions in Santiago de Chile: at Universidad de Chile at the Departamento de Antropología and the Facultad de Odontología, and at the Facultad de Odontología of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Under the seminar title of "Antropología Dental: ¿Qué podemos aprender (todavía) de estudios de forma y función en dientes?", he explores the lessons we can (still) learn from studies on the form, function and genetics of teeth. 
    Latest News Universidad de Chile   Press release Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
  • 22/04/2016: Today the latest paper co-authered by Adam van Casteren is published. It focuses on dental abrasion as a cutting process.
  • 14/04/2016: Michael Berthaume presents his latest research on masticatory cranial deformations at the 85th AAPA's Annual Meeting in Atlanta, GA
  • 05/04/2016: Ellen Schulz-Kornas holds a keynote speech on the 5th International Conference on Surface Metrology in Poznan, Poland.
  • 01/04/2016: Our new technical assistant Tina Kottek will support Silke in the lab from now on. A good start to Tina!
  • 31/03/2016: Kornelius Kupczik co-authored a new paper on "Dynamic Modelling of Tooth Deformation Using Occlusal Kinematics and Finite Element Analysis" published today on PlosOne.
  • 30/03/2016: Adam van Casteren and Michael Berthaume attend the Spring Meeting of the British Primate Society presenting on "Physical properties of plants consumed by Chimpanzees" (Adam) and "Sexual differences in masticatory cranial deformations within Orangutans" (Mike et al.).
  • 17/03/2016: "Morphology is not destiny" states the new article on the "discrepancy between form, function and dietary adaptation in bovid cheek teeth". The paper coauthored by Ellen Schulz-Kornas is now available  online (Journal of Mammalian Evolution.
  • 02/03/2016: The latest paper co-authored by Ellen Schulz-Kornas is published in Ecology and Evolution. She and her colleagues found that "Tooth wear patterns in black rats (Rattus rattus) of Madagascar differ more in relation to human impact than to differences in natural habitats".
  • 12/02/2016: Many thanks to our guest Mona Le Luyer who shared her latest research results giving a talk on the subject of "Dental evolution in Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene human populations: a whole crown perspective?"
  • 02/02/2016: We are delighted to have Prof Callum F. Ross (University of Chicago) as a guest. He will give a talk discussing the topic of "Jaws! What are they good for?".
  • 07/12/2015: Talk by Julie Lawrence (University of Cambridge) on the subject of "Mosaic morphology: variation and covariation in the jaws of South African australopiths and their extant relatives." 
  • 10/09/2015: Edwin, Ellen, Kornelius and Mike present the MPWC's ongoing research at the ESHE 2015 Meeting in London.
  • 24/07/2015: Dr. Lumila Menéndez (Universidad Nacional de La Plata) is our guest, presenting on "The peopling and morphological diversification of South America: random and non-random processes in the last continental region peopled by humans."
  • 21/07/2015: Our guest Dr. Stephan Lautenschlager (University of Bristol) gives a talk on “Reconstructing the past – digital approaches to restore form and infer function in fossils.” 
  • 15/07/2015: The MPWC in Leipzig welcomes its latest member, Linda Schuchardt. For her PhD project, Linda will explore the feeding kinematics in Ponies.
  • 24/06/2015: Talk by Dr. Ian Corfe (University of Helsinki) on "Teeth, trees and time - evolutionary, developmental, ecological and  phylogenetic insights from fossil and living mammals" at the MPWC in Leipzig.
  • 01/06/2015: Maximilian Bemmann, our new doctoral researcher, has joined the MPWC. Max will explore the technical biology of the chewing apparatus in mammals.
  • 23/04/2015: We are excited to have Dr. Laura Fitton (Hull York Medical School) as our guest at the MPWC in Leipzig, giving a talk on “Functional Integration within the Skull of a Hard Object Feeding Primate.”
  • 20/04/2015: Federico Becerra has joined the ranks of the MPWC. In his postdoctoral research project, Fede will investigate the cranio-mandibular apparatus in rodents, combining bite force measurements with lab research, bone geometry analyses and digital reconstructions from high resolution scannings.
  • 15/02/2015: Our new postdoc Michael Berthaume has arrived. Mike's research at the MPWC involves the simulation of tooth function and wear in primates, which is crucial for reconstructing fossil hominin diets. 
  • 01/02/2015: Edwin Dickinson has joined our team. Edwin's PhD research will focus on the developmental trajectory of primates and its impact upon overall masticatory performance.
  • 02/12/2014: Meeting and project talks of MPWC co-directors Prof. Jean-Jacques Hublin (Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig) and Prof. Steve Weiner (Kimmel Center for Archaeological Science, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot) with the two track leaders Dr. Elisabetta Boaretto (Track 1: Timing of Cultural Change at the WIS) and Dr. Kornelius Kupczik (Track 2: Physical Anthropology Through Bone/Tooth Structure-Function Studies at the MPI EVA).
  • 28/10/2014: Dr. Stefan Schlager from the University of Freiburg is our guest presenting his current research in a talk on "Statistical shape models, surface registration and their application in an anthropological context."
  • 15/10/2014: Dr Adam van Casteren co-authored a new paper on the remarkably high toughness of otter teeth and how this may relate to enamel microstructure  
  • 13/09/2014: Stefan Curth presents work from his PhD at the annual meeting of the German Zoological Society in a poster entitled "Covariation of skull and dentition in domestic dogs - a geometric morphometric study."
  • 02/09/2014: Dr Ellen Schulz-Kornas co-authored a talk presented at the annual meeting of the German Society for Mammalian Biology entitled "Characterisation of functional traits in the carnassials of the wolf (Canis lupus) using 3D surface texture analysis."
  • 01/08/2014: We are happy to welcome our newest group member Emily Gelipter who starts her PhD in dental ecology.
  • 16/07/2014: A new paper co-authored by Dr. Ellen Schulz demonstrates, using feeding experiments, how diets effect tooth length and wear in guinea pigs.  
  • 07/07/2014: We welcomed Prof Germán Manríquez (Universidad de Chile) to Leipzig and enjoyed his talk on “Assessing interaction and social identity in archaeological populations from San Pedro de Atacama (northern Chile) from an interdisciplinary perspective”.
  • 23/06/2014: Max Planck Weizmann Center opens its doors to other members of the Max Planck institute and outside visitors during it's first open day allowing people to see our new labs and facilities. 
  • 20/06/2014: A new co-authored paper by Dr. Ellen Schulz presents a novel approach for analysing mesowear in small mammals. 
  • 17/06/2014: Members of the Max Planck Weizmann Centre travel to the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot to meet counterparts, discuss science and plan future collaborations.
  • 02/05/2014: A warm welcome to our new staff members: Ellen Schulz, Adam van Casteren and Stéphane Montuelle (postdoctoral researchers), and Silke Brauer (lab technician).
  • 19/02/2014: Visit of Prof Steve Weiner from the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel) and co-director of the MPWC.
  • 20/01/2014: Move into lab and office space in Biocity, next to MPI-EVA building.
  • 15/01/2014: Franziska Pfab joins the MPWC. From now on she supports the research team as administrative assistant.
  • 01/01/2014: Establishment of the MPWC research group at MPI-EVA led by Dr. Kornelius Kupczik after his move from the Department of Systematic Zoology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Jena.