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Braga Jose

Professeur des Universités (1° classe)
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I focus my research on human evolution and, more specifically, on the skeletal/dental features that made us humans when our genus (Homo) first appeared in Africa more than 2.5 millions of years ago. Each year, I spend several months in South Africa for archaeological field work.

- Kromdraai, South Africa

Led in the Gauteng province (near the city of Krugersdorp, in South Africa) under my supervision in association with Prof. Francis Thackeray, the archaeological mission to Kromdraai (part of the UNESCO area so-called « Cradle of Humankind ») investigates the earliest known infilling in a previously unexplored area of an underground cave system. Since 2014, this new locality provided as yet thousands of identifiable macrovertebrate fossils, including dental, cranial and postcranial remains of hominins, all tied in the earliest part of the stratigraphic sequence, representing three distinct depositional periods. Our ongoing taxonomic, phylogenetic and taphonomic interpretations of these newly discovered samples, will help to determine whether Kromdraai hominins correspond to temporal and evolutionary events also represented in eastern Africa between 2.5 and 2.0 millions of years, or if they represent unique Plio-Pleistocene snapshots of hominin evolution in southern Africa with a transition from a local Australopithecus species to Paranthropus and Homo.

- 3D phylo-morphometric studies in extant hominids and fossil hominins
My ongoing taxonomic, phylogenetic and taphonomic analyses on newly discovered fossil hominins as well as on comparative dental, cranial and postcranial samples combine computer-assisted imaging methods, 3D morphometric methods not contingent on sparsely selected landmarks (e.g., diffeomorphisms ; for more details, see below Durrleman et al., 2012), and formal measurements of phylogenetic signals combined with ancestral reconstructions (for more details, see below Braga et al., 2015). I therefore give special attention to methods measuring the relative roles of selection, interspecies allometry and phylogenetic relationships in shaping the evolution of phenotypes related to developmental strategies (e.g. dental developmental sequences), body size constraints and hearing capabilities (e.g., cochlear morphology).

Academic background
I have a background in comparative anatomy of the primates and evolutionary biology. In addition to my current position at the University of Toulouse, I am also Professorial Research Fellow at the Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. I am in charge of a Master and PhD Programme in Evolutionary Anthropology, Compter-Assisted Anatomy and Human genetics in the University Paul Sabatier-Toulouse 3.
I am currently (from 2013 to 2018) the coordinator of two EU-funded Erasmus Mundus consortia between Europe and South Africa (AESOP and AESOP+). With a total budget of 4,6 millions of euros, these partnerships involve 11 South African and 13 European Universities, as well as other associated partners (e.g., CNRS in France, NECSA in South Africa) for sustainable partnership. We organize 250 mobilities for Masters and PhD students, post-docs and academic staff, to encourage new skilled human resources and newcomers at the interface of several fields including palaeontology, evolutionary biology and archaeological science, for instance.

Details available at

-  Braga J., Cohen C., Maureille B., Teyssandier N. 2016. L’évolution en questions. Ville Brule Eds. 224 pages.
-  Braga J., Thackeray JF. (Eds) 2016 (to be released in july 2016). Kromdraai, A Birthplace of Paranthropus in the Cradle of Humankind. Sun Media, Johannesburg.
-  Crubézy E, Braga J, Larrouy G 2008. Anthropobiologie. Collection « Abrégés de Médecine ». Paris : Editions Masson, 2° Edition (2nd edition), 339 pages.

Book chapters
-  Braga J. 2015. Non -invasive imaging techniques. In Irish J, Scott R (eds). A Companion to Dental Anthropology. pp. 514-527. Wiley & Sons.

Articles (5 features publications)
-  Braga J, Loubes J-M, Descouens D, Dumoncel J-M, Thackeray F, Kahn J-L, de Beer F, Riberon A, Hoffman K, Balaresque P, Gilissen E. 2015. Disproportionate cochlear length in genus Homo shows a high phylogenetic signal during apes’ hearing evolution. PloS One 10 (6), e0127780.
-  Braga J, Thackeray JF, Dumoncel J, Descouens D, Bruxelles L, Loubes J-M, Kahn J-L, Stampanoni M, Bam L, Hoffman J, de Beer F, Spoor F. 2013. A new partial temporal bone of a juvenile hominin from the site of Kromdraai B (South Africa), Journal of Human Evolution 65, 447-456.
-  Balter V, Braga J, Télouk P, Thackeray F 2012. Evidence for dietary change but not landscape use in South African early hominins. Nature 489, 558-560.
-  Durrleman S., Pennec X, Trouvé A, Ayache N, Braga J 2012. Comparison of the endocranial ontogenies between chimpanzees and bonobos via temporal regression and spatiotemporal registration. Journal of Human Evolution. 62, 74-88.
-  Braga J, Heuze Y, Chabadel O Sonan NK, Gueramy A 2005 Non-adult dental age assessment : Correspondence analysis and linear regression versus Bayesian predictions. International Journal of Legal Medicine 119, 260-274.


Radio programs
France Inter, La tête au carré du 26/03/2014, du 29/09/2015 (directs 1H) (
France Culture, Le Salon Noir du 30/09/2014 (