Amount funded: $20,000
PI: Philip Reno, Department of Anthropology, College of the Liberal Arts
Co-PI: Istvan Albert, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Eberly College of Science
Co-PI: Aimin Liu, Department of Biology, Eberly College of Science
Co-PI: Leah Bug, Center for Science and the Schools, College of Education
Biological anthropology is poised to take advantage of emerging experimental techniques and comparative functional genomics to identify the genetic and developmental basis for evolutionarily relevant morphological traits. The wrist is uniquely qualified for such an analysis given its importance to primate locomotor and human manipulative capabilities. One of the most pronounced, yet understudied, aspects of the human wrist is the dramatic reduction of the pisiform. Pisiform reduction is noteworthy because it occurs within the context of the derived superposition of the pisiform on the triquetral, typical of great apes, compared to the ancestral pisiform-ulnar contact that characterizes monkeys, Early Miocene hominoids (Proconsul), and mice. A plausible developmental mechanism exists for human pisiform reduction: the loss of the growth plate and one of the two centers of ossification found in other mammals. Better understanding of the genes and enhancers involved in mammalian wrist morphogenesis and their conservation across hominoids can address targeted hypotheses concerning the developmental basis and evolutionary trajectories for ape and human morphology.