Scott A. Williams

Ph.D. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (2011); M.A. Northern Illinois University (2006); B.A. Kent State University (2003)

Office Address: Rufus D. Smith Hall, 25 Waverly Place, New York, NY 10003

Curriculum Vitae


Areas of Research/Interest

Postcranial functional morphology, Evolution of the vertebral column, Early hominin locomotion, Homoplasy and homology, Morphological integration

Associated with other departments or programs

Center for the Study of Human Origins

Publications

Peer-reviewed publications and theses

2013. Williams SA, Ostrofsky KR, Frater N, Churchill SE, Schmid P, Berger LR. The vertebral column of Australopithecus sediba. Science 340, 1232996. DOI: 10.1126/science.1232996

2012. Williams SA. Evolution of the Hominoid Vertebral Column: The Long and Short of It. Lambert Academic Publishing.

2012. Williams SA. Modern or distinct axial bauplan in early hominins? Comments on Haeusler et al. (2011). J. Hum. Evol. 63, 552-556.

2012. Williams SA. Placement of the diaphragmatic vertebra in catarrhines: implications for the evolution of dorsostability in hominoids and bipedalism in hominins. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 148, 111-122.

2011. Williams SA. Variation in anthropoid vertebral formulae: implications for homology and homoplasy in hominoid evolution. J. Exp. Zool. (Mol. Dev. Evol.) 318, 134-147.

2011. Williams SA. Evolution of the hominoid vertebral column. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL.

2010. Williams SA. Morphological integration and the evolution of knuckle-walking. J. Hum. Evol. 58: 432-440.

2010. Shattuck MR, Williams SA. Arboreality has allowed for the evolution of increased longevity in mammals. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 107: 4635-4639.

2010. Polk JD, Williams SA, Peterson JV, Roseman CC, Godfrey LR. Subchondral bone apparent density and locomotor behavior in extant primates and subfossil lemurs Hadropithecus and Pachylemur. Int. J. Primatol. 31: 275-299.

2009. Polk JD, Williams SA, Peterson JV. Body size and joint posture in primates. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 140: 359-367.

2006. Williams SA. Anatomical variation in the hand and wrist of African apes: evidence for a single origin of knuckle-walking adaptations. M.A. thesis, Northern Illinois University, Dekalb.

Presentations at professional conferences

2013.  Williams SA, Churchill SE, Ostrofsky KR, Schmid P, Frater N, Berger LR. The number of vertebrae in early hominins: insights from Australopithecus sediba. Accepted for the 2013 meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.

2013.  Shattuck MR, Williams SA, accepted. The evolution of brain size and longevity in mammals. Accepted for the 2013 meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.

2013.  Petrullo LA, Shattuck MR, Williams SA. Extensive convergence between giant panda and hominoid vertebral formulae. Accepted for the 2013 meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.

2012.  Williams SA. Variation in hominoid vertebral formulae: implications for the evolution of the hominin vertebral column. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. Suppl. 54: 304. Accepted for the 2013 meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.

2011.  Williams SA. Evolutionary history of the hominoid vertebral formula. Am. J. Phys.
Anthropol. Suppl. 52: 257.

2011.  Roseman CC, Williams SA, Grabowski MW, O'Connor C, Cheverud J, Polk JD. A genotypephenotype map of a mammalian pelvis using a mouse model. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. Suppl. 52: 312-313.

2010.  Williams SA. Morphological integration and the knuckle-walking complex: implications for the evolution of knuckle-walking and bipedalism. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. Suppl. 50: 244.

2010.  Williams SA. Numerical composition of the vertebral column: implications for hominoid
evolution. Midwest Primate Interest Group, Chicago, IL. Podium presentation.

2009.  Williams SA. Modularity in the hominoid vertebral column: implications for the evolution of orthogrady. Am. J. of Phys. Anthropol. Suppl. 47: 426.

2009.  Shattuck MR, Williams SA. The influence of arboreality on longevity in mammals: a test of the evolutionary theory of aging. Am. J. of Phys. Anthropol. Suppl. 47: 366.

2008.  Williams SA, Grabowski MW, Polk JD, Roseman CC. Phenotypic integration and evolution in the African ape third manual ray. Am. J. of Phys. Anthropol. Suppl. 46: 223.

2008.  Grabowski MW, Williams SA, Roseman CC, Polk JD. Phenotypic integration in the macaque postcranial skeleton. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. Suppl. 46: 106.

2008.  Polk JD, Peterson J, Williams SA. Sexual dimorphism, body size, and joint posture in primates. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. Suppl. 46: 173.

2008.  Williams SA, Shattuck MR. Arboreality and longevity in mammals. Presented at the Midwest Primate Interest Group, Notre Dame, IN.

2006.  Williams SA. Variation in the African ape third manual ray. Presented at the Midwest Primate Interest Group, Urbana, IL.

Current News / Projects
updated January 2013



My second year in the Department of Anthropology at NYU began with the incorporation of two new Ph.D. students, Thomas Cody Prang and Jennifer Eyre, into the Evolutionary Morphology Lab.  Jennifer and Cody are both interested in aspects of the primate locomotor skeleton, which constitutes the focus of my work as well.  My research is concerned with several fundamental aspects of evolutionary biology, including the roles of homology and homoplasy and stabilizing selection and developmental constraint in the evolution postcranial morphology.  I have recently approached these questions by quantifying variation in the numerical composition of the vertebral column in primates and other mammals, a project that has generated insightful and even surprising results.

Over the last year I was given the opportunity to lead a study on the description and interpretation of the postcranial axial skeleton of Australopithecus sediba.  Fortunately, a large number of vertebrae are beautifully preserved and can address several important and controversial issues in hominin evolution.  We have submitted a manuscript for publication of the material and will present it at the meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in 2013.  I look forward to working on other aspects of this project, which will likely shed light on the locomotor behavior and phylogenetic position of this new and exciting species.

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