Excavation

Human variation and adaptability

Studying the patterns of variation in humans

We take an interdisciplinary approach to the study of human variation, both at genotypic and phenotypic levels, through the fields of palaeoanthropology, bioarchaeology, human palaeogenetics, evolutionary genetics and human biology. 

We take an interdisciplinary approach to the study of human variation, both at genotypic and phenotypic levels, through the fields of palaeoanthropology, bioarchaeology, human palaeogenetics, evolutionary genetics and human biology.

Palaeoanthropology aims to understand the biology of hominins through morphological variation of the skeleton.

Bioarchaeology is focused on the link of human variation, cultural evolution and its interaction with the natural environment.

Human palaeogenetics studies DNA from archaeological contexts to explore the ancestry of human populations and the role of ancient migrations in shaping the current genetic pool and to provide information about social practices in the past.

To explain the patterns of variation in the human phenotype, we study the mechanisms of adaptability of humans among recent historic and living populations using human biology and genetics.

Impact case study: Telling the story of human evolution

Research areas and current projects

Palaeogenetics

We are interested in the study of the genetic variability of prehistoric populations as a means to understand patterns of prehistoric migrations and its role in shaping the cultural landscape of prehistoric Europe. We are also interested in animal domestication and the often complex patterns of genetic admixture that shaped the gene pool of ancient as well as modern farm animals. 

We are currently working on several collaborative research projects, including prehistoric and early historic human remains from Britain and Scandinavia, as well as prehistoric remains of dogs and pigs from West Asia and Europe.

Facilities

Palaeogenetic analyses are conducted within the Low Copy Number (LCN) laboratories in the Life Sciences Building. These laboratories are built following the highest standards for ancient DNA work, including positive pressure, HEPA filters and UV light. The LCN laboratory is structured in three different suites:

  • Sample preparation room equipped with a sandblaster, a freezer mill and a cross-linker
  • DNA extraction room equipped with a laminar flow hood, cross-linkers, centrifuges, vortex, scales, fridge-freezers
  • PCR-NGS library preparation room equipped with a laminar flow hood, centrifuge, vortex and thermal block

Post-PCR and post-Illumina library preparation are conducted in the molecular biology research laboratories equipped with a fume hood, thermocyclers, electrophoresis systems, centrifuges, scales, thermal blocks, water baths, Milli-Q system, Real-Time PCR system, nanodrop and several fridges and freezers.

Current collaborations

We actively collaborate with colleagues based at:

  • Stockholm University
  • Uppsala University
  • Harvard University 
  • Liverpool University
  • Oxford University
  • Queen Mary University of London

Publications

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Search for a research paper

11 papers found

  • Journal article

    Tooth transposition prevalence and type among sub-Saharan Africans

    Irish JD

    Publish date:30/09/2019 00:00:00

  • Journal article

    Evidence of different climatic adaptation strategies in humans and non-human primates

    Buck LT, De Groote I, Hamada Y, Hassett BR and Ito T and Stock JT

    Publish date:30/07/2019 00:00:00

  • Journal article

    Periapical lesions in hominids: Abscesses on the maxilla of a 2 million-year-old early Homo specimen

    Towle I and Irish JD

    Publish date:29/07/2019 00:00:00

  • Journal article

    Root caries on a Paranthropus robustus third molar from Drimolen

    Towle I, Riga A, Irish JD, Dori I and Menter C and Moggi-Cecchi J

    Publish date:02/07/2019 00:00:00

  • Journal article

    A comparison of hominin teeth from Lincoln Cave, Sterkfontein L/63, and the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa

    Brophy JK, Irish J, Churchill SE, de Ruiter DJ and Hawks J and Berger LR

    Publish date:29/05/2019 00:00:00

  • Journal article

    A probable genetic origin for pitting enamel hypoplasia on the molars of Paranthropus robustus

    Towle I and Irish J

    Publish date:01/04/2019 00:00:00

People

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