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Matt Cartmill, Professor Emeritus

Matt Cartmill

I have recently begun preliminary work on a course of experimental research into the origins of human bipedalism. Known remains of the earliest bipedal human precursors (Australopithecus afarensis in East Africa and Australopithecus africanus in Southern Africa) exhibit two odd autapomorphies not found in Recent large-bodied hominoids: an exaggerated interacetabular distance, and an elongated lumbar segment of the vertebral column. From published studies of human and bird bipedalism, from theoretical expectations based on my earlier studies of primate locomotion, and from what is known about the morphology and habitat of the earliest hominids, I hypothesize that these singular specializations, which do not fit received models of the early evolution of hominid bipedalism, may represent adaptations for running. Experimental studies of locomotion in humans are being undertaken in collaboration with our Postdoctoral Fellow Daniel Schmitt to test various hypotheses concerning the possible functional significance of these australopithecine peculiarities. Preliminary findings on pelvic rotation in human running were presented at the AAPA meetings in April.

Contact Info:
Office Location:  108 Biological Sciences Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone:  (919) 684-2971
Email Address: send me a message
Web Page:  http://www.baa.duke.edu/~matt_cartmill

Education:

Ph.D.University of Chicago1970
M.A.University of Chicago1966
B.A.Pomona College1964
Specialties:

Primate Locomotion
Research Interests:

My current laboratory research (with Lemelin and Schmitt) focuses on the analysis of mammalian gaits. We are engaged in testing the conjecture that the phase relationships between fore and hind limb cycles in quadrupeds can be explained and predicted as a mathematical function of the contact times of the fore or hind limbs. A paper setting out this theory and our experimental evidence for it is has been submitted for publication. Other papers concerning the peculiar gaits found in primates and arboreal marsupials are in preparation.

Dan Schmitt and I are also undertaking experimental research into the origins of human bipedalism. Known remains of the earliest bipedal human precursors exhibit two peculiarities not found in living apes or humans: an exaggerated distance between the two hip sockets, and an elongated lumbar segment of the vertebral column. We are studying human locomotion and modern and ancient hominoid skeletons to test the hypothesis that these features represent adaptations for enhancing stride length through pelvic rotation.

In addition to these experimental studies, I have recently published or begun working on books and articles about evolutionary psychology, animal consciousness, the probabilities of human origins, and other issues and concepts in the study of human evolution, including a textbook of hominid paleontology to be co-authored with Dr. Fred Smith at Northern Illinois University.

Areas of Interest:

Bipedal locomotion
Gait analysis
Origin and differentiation of primates
Evolution of arboreal adaptations in mammals
Evolution of the carotid arteries and basicranium
Origins of higher primates
Origins of language
Theoretical systematics
History of ideas
History and philosophy of science

Keywords:

Adaptation, Physiological • Anatomy • Animals • Anthropology, Physical • Anxiety • Biological Evolution • Bipedal locomotion • Dentition • Diet • Evolution of arboreal adaptations in mammals • Evolution of the carotid arteries and basicranium • Extremities • Feeding Behavior • Female • Fossils • Gait analysis • Gorilla gorilla • History • History and philosophy of science • History of ideas • Hominidae • Humans • Hypoglossal Nerve • Intelligence • Language • Locomotion • Male • Mental Health • Models, Biological • Origin and differentiation of primates • Origins of higher primates • Origins of language • Pan troglodytes • Phylogeny • Predatory Behavior • Primates • Primatology • Progress • Race • Skull • Species Specificity • Speech • Theoretical systematics • Tongue

Representative Publications   (More Publications)   (search)

  1. Cartmill, M, New views on primate origins, Evolutionary Anthropology, vol. 1 no. 3 (January, 1992), pp. 105-111, WILEY [doi]  [abs]
  2. Cartmill, M., A View to a Death in the Morning: Hunting and Nature Through History (1993a), pp. xiv, 331, Harvard University Press, Cambridge
  3. Cartmill, M, A critique of homology as a morphological concept., American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 94 no. 1 (May, 1994), pp. 115-123, ISSN 0002-9483 [8042700], [doi]  [abs]
  4. Cartmill, M, Oppressed by evolution, Discover (March, 1998), pp. 78-83 (Excerpted in Duke Magazine (July-August, 2000), p. 5. Reprinted in L. Polnac (ed.), Purpose, Pattern, and Process, Kendall-Hunt Publ. Co., Dubuque, 5th edition (1999); 6th edition, 2002, pp. 389-397..)
  5. Cartmill, M, The status of the race concept in physical anthropology, American Anthropologist, vol. 100 no. 3 (January, 1998), pp. 651-660, WILEY, ISSN 0002-7294 [Gateway.cgi], [doi]  [abs]
  6. Cartmill, M, Understanding the evil that men do, Chronicle of Higher Education, vol. 2 (June, 2000), pp. B4-B6
  7. Cartmill, M, Animal consciousness: Some philosophical, methodological, and evolutionary problems, American Zoologist, vol. 40 no. 6 (January, 2000), pp. 835-846, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, ISSN 0003-1569 [Gateway.cgi], [doi]  [abs]
  8. Cartmill, M, A view on the science: physical anthropology at the millennium., American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 113 no. 2 (October, 2000), pp. 145-149, ISSN 0002-9483 [11002201], [doi]  [abs]
  9. Cartmill, M, The probability of human origins, in When Worlds Converge: What Science and Religion Tell Us about the Story of the Universe and Our Place in It, edited by Matthews, CN; Tucker, ME; Hefner, P (2001), pp. 73-97, Open Court


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