Paleontology and Paleobiology

Angeline with sample

The CWRU Department of Anatomy has a long history of research in comparative anatomy and paleontology that includes strong links to the nearby Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Faculty in the department are active in field and laboratory research to recover fossil remains and explore the biology of ancient mammals, including humans. Faculty currently lead paleontological field research projects in Bolivia, Chile, Ethiopia, and Israel with opportunities for undergraduate and graduate student participation. Graduate students pursing degrees in paleontology and paleobiology generally apply through the Department of Biology.

In addition to teaching in the WR2 medical curriculum and the Applied Anatomy program, Paleontology and Paleobiology faculty are members of the advisory council for the Evolutionary Biology Program at CWRU and are fellows in the Institute for the Science of Origins.

Courses associated with these other programs that are taught by or involve Paleontology and Paleobiology faculty include:

  • ORIG 101: Origins Prologue: Life, the Universe & Everything
  • BIOL 225: Evolution
  • BIOL 345/445: Mammal Diversity and Evolution
  • ANTH 377/477: Human Osteology
  • BIOL 388/388S: Independent Research

‌‌Paleontology and Paleobiology faculty are also involved with the Program in Evolutionary Medicine at CWRU. Evolutionary Medicine is a comparative and historical approach to functional anatomy that provides important insights into the historical underpinnings of contemporary health problems such as obstetric difficulties, spontaneous fractures of vertebrae, and fatigue fractures.

Armadillo Skull

Representative Research Publications of Paleontology and Paleobiology Faculty:

  • Croft, D.A. In press. Horned Armadillos and Rafting Monkeys: the Fascinating Fossil Mammals of South America. Indiana University Press.
  • Gaudin, T.J. & D.A. Croft. 2015. Paleogene Xenarthra and the evolution of South American mammals. Journal of Mammalogy 96:622-634.
  • Simpson, S. W., L. Kleinsasser, J. Quade, N. E. Levin, W. C. McIntosh, N. Dunbar, S. Semaw, and M. J. Rogers. 2015. Late Miocene hominin teeth from the Gona Paleoanthropological Research Project area, Afar, Ethiopia. Journal of Human Evolution 81:68-82.
  • Engelman, R.K. & D.A. Croft. 2014. A new small-bodied sparassodont (Mammalia: Metatheria) from the middle Miocene locality of Quebrada Honda, Bolivia. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 34:672-688.
  • Macrini, T.E., J.J. Flynn, X. Ni, D.A. Croft & A.R. Wyss. 2013. Comparative study of notoungulate (Placentalia, Mammalia) bony labyrinths and new phylogenetically informative inner ear characters. Journal of Anatomy 223:442-461.
  • Simpson, S.W. 2013. Before Australopithecus: The earliest hominins. Pp. 417-433 In D. Begun (Ed.) A Companion to Paleoanthropology. Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Haile-Selassie, Y., and S. W. Simpson. 2013. A new species of Kolpochoerus(Mammalia: Suidae) from the Pliocene of Central Afar, Ethiopia: Its taxonomy and phylogenetic relationships. Journal of Mammalian Evolution 20:115-127.
  • Lovejoy, C. O., S. W. Simpson, T. D. White, B. Asfaw, and G. Suwa. 2009. Careful climbing in the Miocene: the forelimbs of Ardipithecus ramidus and humans are primitive. Science 326:70-70e8.