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Damiano Marchi, Visiting Assistant Professor

I am a functional morphologist/bioarcheologist interested in the relationships between form and function in the human and non-human primate locomotor system. I apply biomechanical approaches to the study of the living human and non-human primate postcranial skeleton to better understand early hominin locomotion and to reconstruct lifeways in past populations. My dissertation work focused on the relationships between the locomotor behavior and postcranial biomechanical characteristics in modern humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and gibbons. Key results of this study include that metacarpal and metatarsal structure reflect the characteristics of three main hominoid locomotor behaviors: knuckle-walking, quadrumanous gait, and bipedalism, and that biomechanical patterns of the tibio-fibular complex appear to be strong indicators in separating arboreal from more terrestrial hominoids. I am beginning to apply these findings to the human fossil record to reconstruct the locomotor behavior of extinct hominoids. My postdoctoral research broadened with a project focused on changes in mobility between Late Upper Paleolithic/ Mesolithic and Neolithic European populations. The goal of this project is to better understand the roles terrain and mobility levels play in lower limb remodeling in past populations, and to comprehend the changes that occurred in the postcranial skeleton with the advent of food producing economies. Several papers have been published in the last three years on this research and a book chapter is in review.

Please note: Damiano has left the "Evolutionary Anthropology" group at Duke University; some info here might not be up to date.

Contact Info:
Office Location:  04A Bio. Sci. Bldg. Biological Sciences Building
Office Phone:  (919) 660-7371
Email Address: send me a message
Division:  Dept. of Biological Anthropology and Anatomy


Ph.D.University of Pisa, Italy2004
M.S.University of Pisa, Italy1998

Functional Anatomy
Primate Paleontology & Morphology
Research Interests:

My recent research includes: 1. investigating the metatarsal structure in modern great apes, humans and Australopithecus afarensis to better understand the pattern of acquisition of the human-like pronated distal foot in early hominins. 2. the analysis of 3-D kinematics and substrate reaction forces in the lower limb of hominoids and monkeys involved in different locomotor behaviors to better understand the influence of external loads on bone anatomy, with particular emphasis on differences between prevalently arboreal and prevalently terrestrial primates. 3. the comparative study of the subfossil giant lemur Babakotia, extant hominoids and sloths, with a particular focus on the skeletal adaptations to suspensory behavior in extinct giant lemurs. 4. investigating the variation in fibular robusticity in varsity athletes to understand if it reflects variation in mobility patterns as I have already observed for non-human hominoids.

Areas of Interest:

Skeletal biomechanics
Human and non-human primate functional morphology
Physical activity of Holocene populations

Recent Publications   (More Publications)   (search)

  1. Scafetta N, Marchi D, West BJ, Understanding the complexity of human gait dynamics, CHAOS no. 19 (2009)  [abs]
  2. Marchi D, Relationships between lower limb cross-sectional geometry and mobility: the case of a Neolithic sample from Italy., American Journal of Physical Anthropology no. 137 (2008), pp. 188-200  [abs]
  3. Sparacello VS, Marchi D, Mobility and subsistence economy: a diachronic comparison between two groups settled in the same geographical area (Liguria, Italy), Accepted by American Journal of Physical Anthropology (2008)  [abs]
  4. D. Marchi, Diaphyseal and joint properties of metacarpals and metatarsals of Hominoidea and their relationships with locomotor behavior., American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. Supplement (2008), pp. 46: 148.  [abs]
  5. Marchi D, Relative strength of the tibia and fibula and locomotor behavior in hominoids, Journal of Human Evolution (2007), pp. 53:647-655  [abs]

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