The ADaPt Project: Adaptation, Dispersals and Phenotype

Keywords: Adaption; environment; variation; plasticity; virtual anthropology; skeletal morphology; human evolution; primate evolution; cultural adaptation; Jomon; Japanese macaque

Research Outline

This project started as part of a large, collaborative, ERC-funded project (2014-2019) led by Dr Jay Stock (now of Western University, Canada). The strand of the project I lead began as an investigation into the scale and nature of human adaptation to climate using a comparative macaque proxy.  It is sometimes argued that human plasticity is defining evolutionary strategy, yet human skeletal plasticity has not been systematically compared to that in a suitable outgroup.  My collaborators and I compared climatic adaptation in Japanese macaques and prehistoric Jomon foragers throughout Japan using traditional morphometrics, CT / surface scan data and geometric morphometric methods.  We showed that, whilst humans show a similar pattern of cranial climatic adaptation to non-human primates, greater environmental stress is required for this adaptation to occur.  These results suggest a greater dependence on behavioural strategies during human evolution, which may have enabled successful global colonisation.  This has important implications for nature of human adaptation.  Current on-going work within this project includes investigations into the influences of diet and population history Jomon foragers and distinguishing the signatures of developmental plasticity and directional selection in macaque climatic adaptation.


Image summarising the findings of Buck et al., 2019, Sci Reps, showing that humans have different patterns of climatic adaptation to non-human primates. See also Buck et al., 2018, Quat Sci Revs.


ADaPt Project Website

Adaptation to Environmental Variation: The Colonisation of the Japanese Archipelago


Other Projects involving Laura Buck

Morphological Consequences of Hybridization in Primate and Human Evolution

This is a National Science Foundation funded, collaborative project led by Professor Tim Weaver (University of California, Davis, USA).  We use hybrid macaques to better understand the consequences of hybridisation on the primate skeleton and to develop criteria for detecting morphological evidence of hybridisation in the fossil record.

Click here to find out more…

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