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AGEP-T FRAME Fellow: Pedro Fernandez 

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Pedro Fernandez

Graduate Student, Stony Brook University

Anthropological Sciences

Specialty: Physical Anthropology & Postcranial Functional Morphology                                 

AGEP-T FRAME Research Mentor: Dr. William L. Jungers

Email: Pedro.Fernandez@stonybrook.edu

 

I am interested in the relationship between anatomy, form, and behavior. I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois in neuroscience with a concentration in brain evolution. My interests later shifted to the evolution of bipedal walking when I learned that it was this and not increased brain size but upright posture and walking that first differentiated early human-like ancestors from other apes. I entered the Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences (IDPAS) at Stony brook in Fall 2011 and now work under Bill Jungers as a doctoral candidate. I received my M.A., in Fall 2014 and I expect to defend my dissertation bu May 2016. Going forward I hope to continue research on the relationship between postcranial skeletal form and function.

Seminar Title: Functional morphology of the distal metatarsus in anthropoids

Description: The forefoot (metatarsophalangeal) joints in "higher primates" (i.e., anthropoids) have different conformations adapted to different positional behaviors. Aspects of forefoot joint orientation, robusticity, and congruence seem to predict locomotor behavior,and broadly separates arboreal versus terrestrial taxa. More specifically, comparative 3-dimensional (3D) shape analyses conducted on extant anthropoids and fossil human ancestors (i.e., hominins) reveals novel morphological signals of terrestrial bipedalism, terrestrial quadrupedalism, and various grades of arboreality in the anthropoid forefoot. The results suggests that evolutionary shape changes in the hominin forefoot to better drive bipedalism occurred in a highly variable manner, and that the modern conformation of the forefoot joints is not seen until relatively late in human evolution. It appears as though the lateral column of the foot evolved into a more modern-human like shape initially, followed by the great toe later on, and this is probably reflective of the importance of a mixed locomotor (e.g., terrestrial and arboreal) repertoire that persisted well into hominin evolution.

Publications:

Fernandez PJ, Alm├ęcija S, Patel BA, Orr CM, Tocheri MW, Jungers WL. Functional aspects of metatarsal head shape in humans, apes, and Old World monkeys. Journal of Human Evolution 86, 136-146.

Fernandez PJ, Alm├ęcija S, Patel BA, Orr CM, Tocheri MW, Jungers WL., Shape analysis of the distal metatarsal articular surface in cercopithecoids, apes, and humans. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 156 (S60): 132.

Submitted. Fernandez PJ, Wiedemann WT, Orr CM, Patel BA, Tocheri MW, Jungers WL. Shape analysis of the proximal phalangeal articular surface of pedal phalanges in extant anthropoids and fossil hominins. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Submitted. Holowka NB, Fernandez PJ. Functional morphology of the metatarsophalangeal joints in chimpanzees and humans: a kinematic and morphometric approach. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

In Prep. Fernandez PJ, Holowka NB, Demes C, Jungers WL. Morphometric and kinematic investigations of metatarsophalangeal joints reveals graded evolution of hominin forefoot. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.