Susan Larson, a professor in Stony Brook’s Department of Anatomical Sciences in the School of Medicine, wrote an article that appeared in the October 26 issue of Science, a journal published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
“Did Australopiths Climb Trees?” discusses the lifestyle of Australopithecus afarensis, early members of the human lineage. Specifically, it addresses the debate over whether australopiths upper limbs enabled them to climb trees or not since their skeletons display a mix of humanlike and apelike characteristics. Some scientists “see their apelike upper-limbs as an indication that an ability to climb trees continued to have survival value while others suggest that these features were simply retentions from an ancestral condition.”
Larson’s research focuses on primate and human anatomy, experimental functional morphology and biomechanics, and human and primate evolution. She is involved in a project that uses state-of-the-art computer modeling and lab-based experimental techniques to study the mechanics, energetics and control of bipedal locomotion in chimpanzees.