School of Anthropology & Conservation

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Dr Tracy Kivell

Reader in Biological Anthropology

Primate locomotion; skeletal morphology; origin and evolution of human bipedalism and hand use.

 

profile image for Dr Tracy Kivell

School roles and responsibilities

Director of the Animal Postcranial Evolution (APE) Lab.

Academic background

I am a palaeoanthropologist who studies the functional morphology of the wrist and hand in extant and fossil primates. My research focuses on extant and fossil apes, including fossil hominins, to further our understanding of the origin of human bipedalism and hand use throughout our evolutionary history. I aim to understand the relationship between bone shape and function of the hand through analyses of ontogeny, internal (trabecular and cortical) bone structure, and the biomechanics of primate locomotion. My current research interests include:

  1. Functional morphology of the Homo naledi and Australopithecus sediba hands
  2. Trabecular and cortical bone structure in extant and fossil primate hands to better understand locomotion and tool-use in early hominins
  3. Biomechanical analyses of terrestrial and arboreal locomotion in apes
  4. Functional morphology of fossil hand bones of Miocene hominoids

 

I received my PhD from the University of Toronto, working on the developmental morphology of the ape wrist and the origin of human bipedalism.  Before coming to the University of Kent, I was a Research Associate, teaching human gross anatomy at Duke University (2007-2009) and was postdoctoral Junior Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (2009-2013). I have participated in palaeontological field excavations at Miocene sites in Hungary as well as Plio-Pleistocene sites in South Africa.

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Article
Neufuss, J. et al. (2016). Nut-cracking behaviour in wild-born, rehabilitated bonobos (Pan paniscus): a comprehensive study of hand preference, hand grips and efficiency. American Journal of Primatology.
Behringer, V. et al. (2016). Within Arm’s Reach: Measuring Forearm Length to Assess Growth Patterns in Captive Bonobos and Chimpanzees. American Journal of Physical Anthropology [Online] 161:37-43. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.23004.
Tsegai, Z. et al. (2016). Cortical bone mapping: An application to hand and foot bones in hominoids. Comptes Rendus Palevol.
Kivell, T. (2016). A review of trabecular bone functional adaptation: what have we learned from trabecular analyses in extant hominoids and what can we apply to fossils? Journal of Anatomy [Online] 228:569-594. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/joa.12446.
Stephens, N. et al. (2016). Trabecular architecture in the thumb of Pan and Homo: implications for investigating hand use, loading, and hand preference in the fossil record. American Journal of Physical Anthropology [Online]:1-17. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.23061.
Schoonaert, K. et al. (2016). Gait characteristics and spatio-temporal variables of climbing in bonobos (Pan paniscus). American Journal of Primatology [Online] 78:1165-1177. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajp.22571.
Kivell, T. (2015). The hand of Homo naledi. Nature communications [Online] 6:1-9. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms9431.
Kivell, T. (2015). Evidence in hand: recent discoveries and the early evolution of human manual manipulation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences [Online]:1-11. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2015.0105.
Kivell, T. (2015). Homo naledi, a new species of the genus Homo from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa. eLife [Online]:1-37. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09560.
Kivell, T. (2015). Recent origin of low trabecular bone density in modern humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America [Online] 112:366-371. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1411696112.
Feix, T. et al. (2015). Estimating thumb–index finger precision grip and manipulation potential in extant and fossil primates. Interface [Online] 12. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2015.0176.
Skinner, M. et al. (2015). Response to Comment on “Human-like hand use in Australopithecus africanus”. Science [Online] 348:1101. Available at: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/348/6239/1101.2.
Skinner, M. et al. (2015). Human-like hand-use in the hand of Australopithecus africanus. Science [Online] 347:395-399. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1261735.
Nguyen, N. et al. (2014). Micro-finite element (mu FE) modeling of the siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus) third proximal phalanx: The functional role of curvature and the flexor sheath ridge. Journal of Human Evolution [Online] 67:60-75. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2013.12.008.
Gross, T. et al. (2014). A CT-image-based framework for the holistic analysis of cortical and trabecular bone morphology. Palaeontologia Electronica [Online] 17:1-13. Available at: http://palaeo-electronica.org/content/2014/889-holistic-analysis-of-bone.
Huynh Nguyen, N. et al. (2014). Micro-finite element (μFE) modeling of the siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus) third proximal phalanx: The functional role of curvature and the flexor sheath ridge. Journal of human evolution [Online] 67:60-75. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2013.12.008.
Pouydebat, E., Fragaszy, D. and Kivell, T. (2014). Grasping in primates: for feeding, moving and human specificities (Saisir chez les primates: se nourrir, se deplacer et les specificities humanines). Bulletins et Mémoires de la Société d'Anthropologie de Paris [Online] 26:129-133. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13219-014-0100-7.
Skinner, M. et al. (2013). Microtomographic archive of fossil hominin specimens from Kromdraai B, South Africa. Journal of human evolution [Online] 64:434-447. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2013.01.007.
Skinner, M. et al. (2013). Microtomographic archive of fossil hominin specimens from Kromdraai B, South Africa. Journal of Human Evolution [Online] 64:434-447. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2013.01.007.
Tsegai, Z. et al. (2013). Trabecular bone structure correlates with hand posture and use in hominoids. PloS one [Online] 8:e78781. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0078781.
Schilling, A. et al. (2013). Trabecular bone structure in the primate wrist. Journal of Morphology [Online] 275:572-585. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jmor.20238.
Tsegai, Z. et al. (2013). Trabecular bone structure correlates with hand posture and use in hominoids. Plos One [Online] 8:e78781. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0078781.
Chino, J. et al. (2011). Teaching the anatomy of oncology: evaluating the impact of a dedicated oncoanatomy course. International journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics [Online] 79:853-859. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijrobp.2009.10.054.
Kivell, T. et al. (2011). Methodological considerations for analyzing trabecular architecture: an example from the primate hand. Journal of anatomy [Online] 218:209-225. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7580.2010.01314.x.
Kivell, T. et al. (2011). Australopithecus sediba hand demonstrates mosaic evolution of locomotor and manipulative abilities. Science [Online] 333:1411-1417. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1202625.
Begun, D. and Kivell, T. (2011). Knuckle-walking in Sivapithecus? The combined effects of homology and homoplasy with possible implications for pongine dispersals. Journal of Human Evolution [Online] 60:158-170. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2010.10.002.
Begun, D. and Kivell, T. (2011). Knuckle-walking in Sivapithecus? The combined effects of homology and homoplasy with possible implications for pongine dispersals. Journal of Human Evolution [Online] 60:158-170. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2010.10.002.
Kivell, T. et al. (2011). Methodological considerations for analyzing trabecular architecture: an example from the primate hand. Journal of anatomy [Online] 218:209-225. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7580.2010.01314.x.
Lazenby, R. et al. (2011). Scaling VOI size in 3D microCT studies of trabecular bone: a test of the over-sampling hypothesis. American Journal of Physical Anthropology [Online] 144:196-203. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.21385.
Lazenby, R. et al. (2011). Scaling VOI size in 3D μCT studies of trabecular bone: a test of the over-sampling hypothesis. American journal of physical anthropology [Online] 144:196-203. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.21385.
Kivell, T. (2011). A comparative analysis of the hominin triquetrum (SKX 3498) from Swartkrans, South Africa. South African Journal of Science.
Kivell, T., Schmitt, D. and Wunderlich, R. (2010). Hand and foot pressures in the aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) reveal novel biomechanical trade-offs required for walking on gracile digits. The Journal of Experimental Biology [Online] 213:1549-1557. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jeb.040014.
Kivell, T. and Begun, D. (2009). New primate carpal bones from Rudabánya (late Miocene, Hungary): taxonomic and functional implications. Journal of human evolution [Online] 57:697-709. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2009.05.011.
Kivell, T. et al. (2009). An interactive method for teaching anatomy of the human eye for medical students in ophthalmology clinical rotations. Anatomical sciences education [Online] 2:173-178. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ase.95.
Kivell, T. and Schmitt, D. (2009). Independent evolution of knuckle-walking in African apes shows that humans did not evolve from a knuckle-walking ancestor. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [Online] 106:14241-14246. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0901280106.
McGoogan, K. et al. (2007). Phylogenetic diversity and the conservation biogeography of African primates. Journal of Biogeography [Online] 34:1962-1974. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2699.2007.01759.x.
Kivell, T. and Begun, D. (2007). Frequency and timing of scaphoid-centrale fusion in hominoids. Journal of human evolution [Online] 52:321-340. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2006.10.002.
Book section
Kivell, T. (2016). The Primate Wrist. in: The Evolution of the Primate Hand: Anatomical, Developmental, Functional, and Paleontological Evidence. Springer.
Kivell, T. et al. (2016). Introduction. in: Kivell, T. L. et al. eds. The Evolution of the Primate Hand: Anatomical, Developmental, Functional, and Paleontological Evidence. Springer, pp. 1-3. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-3646-5.
Edited book
Kivell, T.L. et al. eds. (2016). The Evolution of the Primate Hand: Anatomical, Developmental, Functional, and Paleontological Evidence. [Online]. Springer. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-3646-5.
Conference or workshop item
Neufuss, J. et al. (2015). Diversity of Hand Grips and Laterality in Wild African Apes. in: 6th European Federation for Primatology Meeting, XXII Italian Association of Primatology Congress. KARGER, pp. 329-329. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000435825.
Total publications in KAR: 41 [See all in KAR]
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Bone structure of a Chimp hand

I occasionally teach on undergraduate (e.g. SE 302) and graduate (e.g. SE856)  modules, but will not be teaching full time until September 2020.

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Science cover featuring 2011 research paper

GRASP  Evolution of the human hand: Grasping trees and tools (funded by European Research Council Starting Grant 2014-2019)  See “Research Projects”or click here

Director of research on Australopithecus sediba hand fossils: Investigation of Au. sediba and Rising Star hand remains from South Africa in collaboration with Lee Berger and Job Kibii (University of the Witwatersrand) and Steve Churchill (Duke University).

Fossil hominin and hominoid hand use: Comparative investigation of fossil hominin (australopiths to Neandertals) and Miocene hominoid hand remains using morphometric and micro-CT data. This research aims to shed light on locomotor and tool-use behaviours throughout the evolution of the human lineage. Collaborators: Matthew Skinner (UCL), Steve Churchill (Duke University), David Begun (University of Toronto).

Functional signals in trabecular and cortical bone structure: A comparative investigation of internal bony morphology of the primate hand to assess variation in joint loading patterns and how this reflects differences in locomotor and manipulative behaviours. Collaborators: Matthew Skinner (UCL), Dieter Pahr and Thomas Gross (Vienna University of Technology), Huynh Nguyen and Jean-Jacques Hublin (Max Planck Institute-EVA) and Richard Lazenby (University of Northern British Columbia).

Biomechanics of primate locomotion: Investigation of variation in biomechanics of terrestrial and arboreal locomotion in apes as well as other primates, including the aye aye, in both captive and natural settings. Collaborators: Daniel Schmitt and Brian Hare (Duke University) and Roshna Wunderlich (James Madison University).

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Orangutan trabecular bone

I can offer supervision of PhD and MA/MSc research within any of my areas of interest – functional morphology of the postcranial skeleton, including external and internal (using microCT data) bony morphology – with a particular focus on the upper limb.

Current PhD students

Principal Supervisor

Johanna NeufussHand use and posture during locomotor and non-locomotor behaviours in wild, habituated gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos

Co-Supervisor

Chris Dunmore"Skeletal form and function of the primate hand"
Leoni Georgiou "Functional morphology of the hip and knee joints in apes and humans"
Zewdi Tsegai
(Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)
Nicholas Stephens (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)

Past Masters students

Ann-Marie SchillingTrabecular bone structure in the primate wrist

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Aye Aye as featured on the cover of the Journal of Experimental Biology

Memberships

Physical Anthropology Women’s Mentoring Network (PA WMN), an organization that brings together more senior women in biological anthropology with younger women seeking advice as they transition from their PhD to a postdoc, to their first academic positions and through the tenure process, balancing work, research and family. We organize mentoring events at the American Association of Physical Anthropology (AAPA) conference each year, but offer mentoring year round. I currently sit on the Steering Committee and was Chair of PA WMN in 2011-2012.

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I am available to provide commentary or discussion on human or nonhuman primate evolution, primate locomotion, or skeletal morphology and evolution.

Television

  • 2014 - BBC4 two-part documentary “Dissected: The Incredible Human Hand and Foot”, aired February 18th
  • 2009 - The Daily Planet on Discovery Channel, Canada: “The World is Just Awesome Week”, Episode 13, September 14th: “Unraveling the secrets behind these not-so-cute creatures”

Radio

Popular magazines and websites             

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School of Anthropology and Conservation - © University of Kent

School of Anthropology and Conservation, Marlowe Building, The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NR, T: +44 (0)1227 827056

Last Updated: 21/11/2016