Aboriginal Australian cranial shape variability: an exploration of demography and colonisation (Lucy Timbrell, University of Liverpool)

1:00pm - 2:00pm / Thursday 5th March 2020
Type: Seminar / Category: Department
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Australia currently possesses some of the earliest evidence of human occupation outside of Africa. What’s more, in comparison to other global populations, contemporary Aboriginal Australians have a distinctive yet homogenous cranial shape and form. The indigenous people of Australia have thus been a major focus of anthropology since the dawn of the discipline yet little consensus has yet to be reached about their place in the recent human evolutionary trajectory. For example, previous research disagrees on whether Australia has been isolated from prehistoric regional migrations since the initial colonisation of the continent and whether recent communities are the direct ancestors of the first settlers. Disagreement between studies is in part due to a lack of ethically collected samples (genetics and cranial), limited geographic coverage of these studies and methodological inconsistencies. Lucy will present results from both 2D and 3D cranial shape analyses into the patterns of variation with recent Aboriginal Australians, within an unprecedently large and widely distributed skeletal sample. Her MPhil work explores questions about colonisation and demography through in-depth within-group analyses using morphometric and geometric morphometric methods.