Behavioral and Biological Evolution
Middle Stone Age site of Sibudu Cave (South Africa)
Jamie L. Clark
For the last eight years, Dr. Jamie Clark has been involved in research at the Middle Stone Age (MSA) site of Sibudu Cave (South Africa). Excavations at the site have been ongoing since 1998 (between 1998-2011, the project director was Dr. Lyn Wadley, University of the Witwatersrand; current excavations are being conducted by Dr. Nicholas Conard, University of Tuebingen) and have uncovered an extensive MSA sequence spanning from greater than 77,000 years ago through ~38,000 years ago. Much of Dr. Clark’s work has focused on teasing apart the relationships between environmental change and changes in technology and material culture during this critical period in the evolution of our species.
The Evolution of Olfactory Receptors
Kara C. Hoover
What microevolutionary factors shaped the distribution and diversity in olfactory receptor genes in modern humans? My long-term research is to reconstruct temporal and spatial patterns of variation using genetic data from modern ancient and paleo DNA. I am particularly interested in the interplay between microevolutionary forces and diet and behavior in shaping the distribution and diversity of olfactory receptor genes during the peopling of new landscapes as humans migrated out of Africa to Eurasia. My current research is focused on OR7D4, an olfactory receptor for sex pheromone detection that is also linked to human pig meat preference. The rich archaeological and genomic record of pig domestication in Asia provides the contextual frame in which I can exploit the promise of the genomics revolution through generation of an integrative anthropological dataset. My analysis of sequence data from modern human DNA and Neandertal and Denisova paleogenomic DNA indicates that Eurasians are more likely to have a mutated copy of the gene reducing phenotypic sensitivity to androstenone and increasing preference for pig meat