Part of the Des Moines University Friday Seminar Series
Kaila Folinsbee, Ph.D.
Assistant professor, Anthropology, Iowa State University
I am a palaeoanthropologist interested in the evolutionary history of the primates. My current research centers on the African papionin monkeys – the group that includes baboons and mandrills. I am describing new fossils from Pleistocene aged (~2 million year old) deposits in the Sterkfontein Valley, South Africa in order to determine how many species of primate were present in the past, what they would have looked like and in what kind of environment they were living. I am also working on reconstructing papionin phylogeny, using both morphological and molecular characters from extinct and living monkeys to assess their evolutionary relationships. My research interests include: Primate evolution and functional anatomy, cercopithecoid monkeys, hominoid evolution, historical biogeography, phylogenetic systematics, palaeontology, and comparative anatomy.
Primate biogeography is another focus of my research; I use phylogenetic techniques to explore the history of primate dispersal over space and time. With my collaborator, Dan Brooks, I found that humans and apes (the hominoids) show correlated episodes of dispersal out of ancestral areas at the same time as other large mammal groups like hyaenas and elephants. Using phylogenetic biogeography allows us to reconstruct ancient dispersal patterns among non-related groups of organisms. I’m currently working on a method for time-calibrating biogeographic events with my colleague David Evans, in order to assess more precisely when dispersal events occurred in the past.
Primate evolution and functional anatomy, cercopithecoid monkeys, hominoid evolution, historical biogeography, phylogenetic systematics, palaeontology, and comparative anatomy.
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