Phd in Paleoanthropology
Contact : clement.zanolli(a)gmail.com
Biological characteristics and life history traits are uniquely recorded and preserved in the mineralized dental tissues (e.g., taxonomic and phylogenetic information, gestation length, aspects of intra-uterine life and perinatal period, birth dynamics, timing and patterning of growth and development, fertility, individual-environment interactions, sexual dimorphism). Recent advances in the field of virtual imaging now provide noninvasive tools (e.g., X-ray tube-based or synchrotron radiation microtomography, neutron microtomography, micro-MRI) enabling to virtually access to the high resolution tridimensional tooth tissues meso-/microstructure and to extract the internal (paleo)biological signal without damaging the study material.
My research project, based on the virtual high resolution characterization of the internal structure of fossil dental remains, aims to precise the hominid paleobiodiversity, the evolutionary trends and phylogenetic relationships, as well as to uncover some disregarded paleobiological aspects. A first research component focuses on the study of the diversity of the Miocene hominoids from Europe (Anoiapithecus, Dryopithecus, Hispanopithecus, Oreopithecus, Ouranopithecus, Pierolapithecus) and Asia (Lufengpithecus, Sivapithecus, Khoratpithecus). A second component concerns the origins of the genus Homo and its evolution across space (notably its population displacements and group interactions between Africa and Europe), time (since the Early Pleistocene to the Middle Pleistocene) and in various environments (in terms of latitude, climates and ecosystems). As a member of fieldwork activities in South Africa (French Archaeological Mission in Kromdraai B) and in East Africa (Anthropo-Archeological and Geo-Paleontological Mission in the Danakil Depression of Eritrea), I participate to the discovery and study of new hominin remains from two key periods, coming from two fundamental areas for our understanding of human evolution.
Research experiences and collaborations
This scientific research project is based on the professional experience and collaborative networks built during my academic training, as well as during my four years of postdoctoral research at the Multidisciplinary Laboratory of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics of Trieste, in Italy, and then at the Anatomy Department of the University of Pretoria, in South Africa. Since my integration in the UMR 5288, early 2016, new collaborations were started, notably with the Dental Faculty of the University of Toulouse for the study of the variability of modern human tooth structure.