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Paleoanthropology in motion: using x-rays to study human footprints in an evolutionary context


Footprints are the result of a dynamic process that is dictated by nuanced interactions between anatomy, kinematics, and substrate (Falkingham and Gatesy 2014). To date, much of hominin track analysis has relied heavily on understanding the relationship between pressure applied by the foot and depth of the impression left in the substrate. (Dat et al. 2010; Hatala et al. 2013). This research employs a novel approach: using biplanar X-rays and marker-based tracking to observe the formation of the track and deformation of the skin from below the surface of the substrate--a viewpoint that is otherwise obstructed and allows for a more direct observation of how the foot interacts with the sediment. The resulting data will ultimately be compared to fossilized tracks in Ileret, Kenya in order to infer how the bipedal locomotion of ancient hominins differs from that of modern humans. In short, by investigating how modern anatomy and walking relates to modern footprint shape, further insight is gained into how to interpret ancient tracks. \n\nThis poster describes the work completed over the course of the summer and denotes the beginning stages of this endeavor. At the time of this poster submission, data was collected from a single individual. Trials will proceed in the near future.


Perry, David, "Paleoanthropology in motion: using x-rays to study human footprints in an evolutionary context " (2015). Summer Research Symposium. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.



  • Summer Research Symposium

    Each year, Brown University showcases the research of its undergraduates at the Summer Research Symposium. More than half of the student-researchers are UTRA recipients, while others receive funding from a variety of Brown-administered and national programs and fellowships and go …