The winner of the BAS Student Paper/Poster Award for 2013 is Marc Kissel (University of Wisconsin, Madison) for his paper, “Testing Genetic Models of Human Evolutionary History against the Anthropological Record.”
Comparing measurements of supraorbital skeletal features from two Neandertal populations (Vindjia and Krapina), Kissel explores whether genetic drift or natural selection best explains observed morphological variability. Having found that observed variability cannot be explained by drift alone, he suggests that closer attention be paid to human reproductive behavior as illustrated in ethnographic record of hunter-gatherer communities, and that effective population size may not be a good indicator of census size in the Pleistocene.
In this paper, Jill Scott tests whether various measurements of chin morphology can be used to successfully differentiate H. sapiens, H. neanderthalensis, and H. heidelbergensis. Using Principal Component Analysis, she finds that H. sapiens separate from both Neandertals and H. heidelbergensis along PC1. However along PC2, H. sapiens group with Neandertals to the exclusion of H. heidelbergensis. In this study, she explores new ways to measure and statistically test morphological differences that have been explored primarily in a qualitative manner in the literature.