New staff members join the department, advancing human and mammalian evolution research

Posted on 19 September 2014

Four leading scholars from the Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences complement Archaeology's team

19-09-2014 HYMS Staff

Four new members of staff have joined the Archaeology Department from the Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences of the Hull York Medical School.  They will be based with us principally for the purposes of research, while maintaining their teaching and administrative roles within HYMS and taking on new teaching and administrative roles within the Archaeology department. They currently deliver and direct the MSc in Human Anatomy and Evolution (HYMS) and undertake a wide range of research that particularly concerns the form and function of the skeleton in relation to ecology and evolution.  They expect to contribute particularly in the areas of human evolution (palaeoanthropology) and mammalian ecology and evolution (zooarchaeology).

Their individual research interests are as follows:

Sam Cobb is interested in feeding and diets, in particular the coordinated development and evolution of jaws, teeth and the masticatory system as a whole. His current research focuses on mammals, particularly mice, and birds, and makes use of a variety of methods including physical testing, shape analysis and biomechanical modelling.


Phil Cox is principally concerned with the mammalian skull and how it has been shaped by both evolution and function. He has research interests in all mammals but much of his work is focused on the rodents, the largest order of mammals, and their sophisticated and unique masticatory system. Phil's research makes use of traditional dissection, medical imaging, shape analysis and virtual modelling, and he has pioneered the use of virtual muscle reconstruction from iodine enhanced microCT images.


Laura Fitton examines the functional significance of variations in craniofacial and masticatory morphology of fossil hominins, other primates and mammals, applying a series of techniques including virtual biomechanical modelling, physical testing and dissection to understand how the masticatory system functions and adapts among fossil hominins and in primate model species.


Paul O’Higgins focuses on the evolution and function of the skeletal system in humans and our near relatives, with an emphasis on comparative functional studies. His work in this area has underpinned the development and application of geometric morphometric and finite element analysis to studies of form and function in the hominin fossil record and more widely within zoology.