Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology
School of Chiropractic
Basic Science (anatomy, evolutionary biology)
1.Evolution of the head and neck: The purpose of this project is to assess how phenotypic integration (covariation among traits) and morphology (shape) are changing in response to behavioral traits including posture/locomotion, life history, diet, among others, in order to better understand the evolution and development of modern human craniofacial traits. 3D and 2D data were collected on over 2000 non-human primates, marsupials, and carnivores and over 400 modern humans. Data are currently in the data processing and analysis or publication stage and have yielded multiple publications (Villamil 2017, 2018, 2021; Villamil and Santiago Nazario, in prep) and presentations so far.
2. Hybridization, character displacement, and hominin morphological divergence: Character displacement occurs when two potentially hybridizing species diverge in order to reinforce species boundaries, because hybridization is detrimental to survival and/or reproduction. The purpose of this project is to assess the presence, magnitude, and direction of character displacement in cranial traits in primates in order to identify patterns of change that could be identifiable in the hominin fossil record, as hybridization may have been an important factor shaping hominin evolution. To investigate this question, the morphology of closely-related, potentially hybridizing species pairs will be assessed and compared. Initial pilot results suggest several traits that may be undergoing this process in New World monkeys and these results have been presented at multiple conferences.
3. Assessment of soft and hard tissue covariation in the macaque pharynx and implications for adaptation of basicranial structures: The purpose of this project is to better understand how soft and hard tissues are interacting to constrain both developmental and evolutionary change in the morphology of cranial structures. To do so, 3D data will be collected from CT scans of formalin-preserved macaque heads in order to assess phenotypic integration among pharyngeal musculature, facial, and basicranial anatomy.
Availability for Students
Evolution of the head and neck: No previous experience is necessary but students should have a basic knowledge of anatomy, especially cranial anatomy. A variety of research questions/manuscripts are in process for this project, and additional ones can be developed from the collected data according to student interest. Students should contact me [Prof. Villamil] to discuss their particular interests and expectations.
Universidad Central del Caribe
P.O. Box 60327
Bayamón, PR 00960-6032
Tel (787) 798-3001 ext. 2022