Portrait of Dr Ameline Bardo

Dr Ameline Bardo

Postdoctoral Research Fellow


Dr Ameline Bardo is an interdisciplinary biologist studying the evolution of tool use and manipulation as well as the emergence of the unique features of the human hand. Ameline completed her PhD at the CNRS (Paris) in November 2016, in which she looked at the evolution of the hand and manipulative abilities in great apes compared with humans. Dr Bardo combined ethological (i.e. behavioural) studies on the manipulative abilities of living great apes with 3D analyses of bony morphology of the thumb, and biomechanical modelling of human and great ape hands (hominids).

Until September 2019, Ameline will be a Fyssen Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the School of Anthropology and Conservation, working on a project on the evolution of human dexterity supervised by Professor Tracy Kivell.

Research interests

Dr Bardo's research applies an integrative and comparative behavioural, morphological and biomechanical approach to better understand the evolution of hominid hands related to their form and function. Although her previous research demonstrated that the human hand is perhaps not as unique in its abilities as previously thought, this work has raised additional questions regarding the traditional understanding that the highly dexterous human hand and its distinct morphology evolved in response to stone tool-making. Indeed, it is still unclear when and under what selective conditions a “modern” hand evolved.

During Ameline's postdoctoral project on the 'Evolution of human dexterity, precision grip and stone tool-making', she will test longstanding assumptions about the evolution of the human hand through a comparative primate approach (behavioural, morphological and biomechanical perspective), with the aim of identifying what makes the human hand distinct among primates.



  • Dunmore, C. et al. (2019). Metacarpal trabecular bone varies with distinct hand-positions used in hominid locomotion. Journal of Anatomy.
    Trabecular bone remodels during life in response to loading and thus should, at least in part, reflect potential variation in the magnitude, frequency and direction of joint loading across different hominid species. Here we analyse the trabecular structure across all non-pollical metacarpal distal heads (Mc2-5) in extant great apes, expanding on previous volume of interest and whole-epiphysis analyses that have largely focussed on only the first or third metacarpal. Specifically, we employ both a univariate statistical mapping and a multivariate approach to test for both inter-ray and interspecific differences in relative trabecular bone volume fraction (RBV/TV) and degree of anisotropy (DA) in Mc2-5 subchondral trabecular bone. Results demonstrate that while DA values only separate Pongo from African apes (Pan troglodytes, Pan paniscus, Gorilla gorilla), RBV/TV distribution varies with the predicted loading of the metacarpophalangeal (McP) joints during locomotor behaviours in each species. Gorilla exhibits a relatively dorsal distribution of RBV/TV consistent with habitual hyper-extension of the McP joints during knuckle-walking, whereas Pongo has a palmar distribution consistent with flexed McP joints used to grasp arboreal substrates. Both Pan species possess a disto-dorsal distribution of RBV/TV, compatible with multiple hand postures associated with a more varied locomotor regime. Further inter-ray comparisons reveal RBV/TV patterns consistent with varied knuckle-walking postures in Pan species in contrast to higher RBV/TV values toward the midline of the hand in Mc2 and Mc5 of Gorilla, consistent with habitual palm-back knuckle-walking. These patterns of trabecular bone distribution and structure reflect different behavioural signals that could be useful for determining the behaviours of fossil hominins.
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