I am happy to report that our new study came out this week in Ecology and Evolution! The paper is open-access and freely available.
This new research investigates the diversity of tooth morphology in mammals, finding that, contrary to previous assumptions, diet does not play a dominant role in the evolution of dental proportions. Instead, the study points to stabilizing selection as a key factor in understanding the diversity of tooth morphology in mammals. The study, a collaboration between scientists in the United States and France, looked at the teeth of more than 1,500 mammals held in museum collections in six countries to investigate the role of ancestry and diet on the evolution of dental proportions. This is the largest investigation of dental proportions to date.
The citation for the article is:
Monson TA, et al. (2019) Evidence of strong stabilizing effects on the evolution of boreoeutherian (Mammalia) dental proportions. Ecology and Evolution. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.5309
I am honored to announce that I have accepted a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Western Washington University, beginning fall 2009.
At Western, I will be running the Bioanthropology lab and teaching Intro to Bio Anth and Osteology. I will also be conducting research on primate evolution, life history, and reproductive ecology in conjunction with undergraduate and graduate researchers.
I am very excited to start this next chapter of my academic career, and I can’t wait to join the community and faculty at Western. It’s a dream to head back to the Pacific Northwest! And I am looking forward to working with Washington students in anthropology and biology, with goals of advancing science, science communication, and outreach.
Along with PhD student Rahel Brügger, I am hosting the 2019 Integrative Human Evolution Symposium! The Integrative Human Evolution Symposium (IHES 2019) is a one-day Symposium, the first of its kind in Zurich, to be held at the University of Zurich Irchel Campus on April 11th, 2019. The Symposium is free, open to the public, and in English.
At the Symposium, invited early-career researchers from universities in Switzerland in the fields of Anthropology, Evolutionary Medicine, Comparative Linguistics, Philosophy, Paleogenomics, Environmental Systems Science, and Geography will talk about human evolutionary studies, past and future.
We were awarded funding from the Graduate Campus at UZH to organize and host this interdisciplinary symposium, with four primary mission goals: 1) To provide career development opportunities for junior researchers (graduate students and postdoctoral researchers), 2) To facilitate an interdisciplinary research environment, 3) To promote a platform for diversity in academia and the sciences, and 4) To offer an opportunity for science communication and education.
Everyone is welcome and invited to attend this free Symposium. If you are in Zurich, we hope to see you there!
I am excited to announce that we have a new paper out now, titled, “Using machine learning to classify extant apes and interpret the dental morphology of the chimpanzee-human last common ancestor.” The paper, co-authored by Dr. David Armitage and Prof. Dr. Leslea Hlusko, was released this weekend in PaleoBios, the official publication of the University of California Museum of Paleontology. The study uses machine learning algorithms that ‘learn’ what the teeth of living apes look like and then apply the training to interpret and classify teeth from 95 fossil apes that lived in Africa, Europe, and Asia over the last 23 million years. This is one of the first studies to use artificial intelligence to investigate human origins.
The release of the paper was accompanied by a popular science article written by Inverse.com
Body proportions are significantly associated with athletic success in the NBA and MMA, according to new scientific report
July 16, 2018 – Berkeley, CA – Scientists at the University of California have released new research showing that body proportions are significantly associated with elite athletic success in the NBA and mixed martial arts (MMA). The study, led by Dr. Tesla Monson, looked at arm span (AKA wingspan, or reach) and height in more than 10,000 individuals, including 2,990 basketball players, 1,284 MMA fighters, and 6,068 recruits for the US Army. This is one of the first studies to scientifically compare body proportions and athletic success in the NBA and MMA and provides statistical evidence for the advantages of a wide arm span relative to height in athletes.
Check out my recent interview with Planet Forward on the importance of science communication and representation in science. This is a great piece on why SCIENCE MATTERS! Thanks to Navya at UC Berkeley for writing it up and making a difference in science!
Dr. Tesla Monson featured in the Planet Forward newsletter
I am happy to announce that I have officially started a postdoctoral research position at the Anthropologisches Institut und Museum at the Universität Zürich in Zürich, Switzerland! I am working with Drs. Christoph Zollikofer and Marcia Ponce de León on a project characterizing global variation in the enamel-dentine junction in modern humans. Be sure to check my research page to keep up to date on my current projects!
Tesla outside the Anthropology Museum at the University of Zürich.
Our new paper on the evolution of the maternal:infant relationship came out last week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Lead author, Dr. Leslea Hlusko, also wrote a blog post on the article, featured on The Conversation. I am really excited to be a part of this project that brings together dental anthropology, genomics, cellular biology, and paleoecology to pose a hypothesis about natural selection on a population of people living at high latitudes in the Beringian Refugium during the Last Glacial Maximum.
The article is open access, so anyone can read the article HERE.
Other press on our recent work:
Science Magazine: Gene linked to breastfeeding may have boosted survival of earliest Americans
UC Berkeley: Did last ice age affect breast feeding in Native Americans?
Newsweek: Genetic Mutation Behind Shoveled Teeth May Have Been Key to Ancestral Survival
I am so proud of my undergraduates! They recently won Best Poster in Ecology and Evolution at the West Coast Biological Sciences Undergraduate Research Conference, hosted by St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga, CA. They gave an exceptional presentation on dental variation in megabats (Pteropodidae). I can’t wait to see how this project develops! Congratulations again Maddie, Rena, and Shruti!
Rena (left) and Maddie (right) at the 2018 WCBSURC
Madeleine Zuercher (first author), undergraduate at UC Berkeley, and Tesla Monson.
While I am not able to attend the AAPA meetings in Austin this year, I am still pleased to be there in scientific spirit as a co-author on an excellent poster during the Saturday afternoon session: Primate Evolution and Anatomy. Please stop by and check out our work on dental variation in New World monkeys!