Portrait of Kim Deckers

Kim Deckers

PhD student
Biological Anthropology

About

PhD project: Ontogenetic changes in internal bone structure: a study of the primate upper limb with implications for the evolution of human locomotion and manipulation

Kim is studying changes in internal bone structure in the upper limb of extant and fossil primates in order to further our understanding of the evolution of tool use and human bipedalism throughout our evolutionary history. Studies linking adult primate trabecular morphology to behaviour have had varying success. This may be due to a bone remodelling lag to changes in mechanical loading, which means adult trabecular morphology may be reflecting juvenile behaviours. Currently, very little is known about how trabecular bone morphology responds to loading throughout ontogeny. Kim's research aims to answer this question by using micro X-ray computed tomography (micro-CT) and finite element analysis to map changes in trabecular and cortical bone morphology and biomechanical loading patterns in the upper limb and hand of great apes throughout ontogeny. Using these techniques, this research aims to elucidate the developmental pattern of trabecular bone in the primate upper limb, as well as show how changes in trabecular morphology throughout life, such as the disappearance of the epiphyseal line, affect load transference and overall biomechanical loading throughout the upper limb. These findings may aid in future research aimed at reconstructing fossil hominin behaviour.

Prior to starting her PhD, Kim completed a BSc in Biological Anthropology at the University of Kent and an MSc in Human Osteology at the University of Leiden. Her BSc thesis looked at patterns of trauma in a medieval and a modern skeletal sample. Her MSc dissertation project looked at the ontogenetic trajectory of trabecular bone in the human talus of a 19th-century population and its link to changes in locomotion.

Supervisor(s)

Professor Tracy Kivell
Dr Matthew Skinner

Funding

University of Kent, Vice-Chancellor's Research Scholarship

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