Scott A. Williams

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

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

Email:

Phone: 212-992-9583

Curriculum Vitae


Areas of Research/Interest

Human evolution; Evolutionary functional morphology; Fossil hominins; Bipedalism; Trunk; Axial skeleton; Vertebral column;

Associated with other departments or programs

Center for the Study of Human Origins

Selected Publications

Peer-reviewed Journal Articles

In press. Russo, G.A., Williams, S.A. Giant pandas (Carnivora) and living hominoids (Primates) converge on lumbar vertebral adaptations to orthograde trunk posture. Journal of Human Evolution.

2015. Meyer, M.R., Williams, S.A., Smith, M., Sawyer, G., 2015. Lucy's back: Reassessment of fossils associated with the A.L. 288-1 vertebral column. Journal of Human Evolution. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2015.05.007

2015. Williams, S.A., Russo, G.A. Evolution of the hominoid vertebral column: the long and the short of it. Evolutionary Anthropology 24, 15-32.

2015. Williams, S.A., Shattuck, M.R., 2015. Ecology, longevity, and naked mole-rats: confounding effects of sociality? Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 282, 20141664

Russo, G.A., Williams, S.A., 2015. Lucy (A.L. 288-1) had five sacral vertebrae. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 156, 295-303.

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

2012. Williams SA. Modern or distinct axial bauplan in early hominins? Comments on Haeusler et al. (2011). Journal of Human Evolution 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. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 148, 111-122.

2011. Williams SA. Variation in anthropoid vertebral formulae: implications for homology and homoplasy in hominoid evolution. Journal of Experimental Zoology (Molecular and Developmental Evolution) 318, 134-147.

2010. Williams SA. Morphological integration and the evolution of knuckle-walking. Journal of Human Evolution 58, 432-440.

2010. Shattuck MR, Williams SA. Arboreality has allowed for the evolution of increased longevity in mammals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 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. International Journal of Primatology. 31, 275-299.

2009. Polk JD, Williams SA, Peterson JV. Body size and joint posture in primates. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 140, 359-367.

Editor-reviewed Papers and Books

2015. Williams, S.A. Earliest Hominins. McGraw-Hill Yearbook in Science and Technology (2015).

2015. Williams, S.A. Review of Apes and Human Evolution by R.H. Tuttle (2014). Current Anthropology.

Monographs and Theses

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

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

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

Contributed Posters and Papers

2015. Williams, S.A., Meyer, M.R., Smith, M., Sawyer, G.J. A reassessment of vertebrae associated with the Australopithecus afarensis partial skeleton, A.L. 288-1 (“Lucy”). Paleoanthropology Society 2015 meeting, San Francisco, CA.

2015. Petersdorf, M., Higham, J.P., Williams, S.A. What can the skeleton tell us about flanging? Hard-tissue markers of cheek flanges in Mandrillus. American Journal of Physical Anthropology S60, 252-253.

2015. Meyer, M.R., Williams, S.A., Smith, M., Sawyer, G.J. Lucy plus one: Intermingling of a second individual in the spinal column of A.L. 288-1. American Journal of Physical Anthropology S60, 226.

2015. Polk, J.D., Williams, S.A., Grabowski, M.W., Roseman, C.C. Evolvability and autonomy of limb proportions in Homo and other hominoids. American Journal of Physical Anthropology S60, 256.

2015. Lee, A.B., Konigsberg, L., Williams, S.A. Similarities in the primate vertebral formulae and implications for phylogeny and locomotor behavior. American Journal of Physical Anthropology S60, 201.

2014. Polk, J.D., Williams, S.A., Grabowski, M.W., Fortney, C., Roseman, C.C. Integration and the evolution of suspensory behavior in primates. XXV International Primatology Society Congress (abstract #653).

2014. Williams, S.A., Higham, J.P. Sexual selection and female mate choice in human evolution. American Journal of Physical Anthropology S58, 273.

2014. Ostrofsky, K.R., Williams, S.A., Churchill, S.E., Berger, L.R., Richmond, B.R. Australopith lumbar vertebral morphology: insights from Australopithecus sediba. American Journal of Physical Anthropology S58, 202.

2014. Grabowski, M.W., Williams, S.A., O’Connor, C.H., Lawson, H.A., Polk, J.D., Cheverud, J.M., Roseman, C.C. Genetic variation in pelvic sexual dimorphism and it implications for human evolution. American Journal of Physical Anthropology S58, 129.

2014. Petrullo, L.A., Goldstein, D.M., Lee, A.B., Williams, S.A. Suspension, brachiation, and the evolution of short torsos in atelines and hominoids. American Journal of Physical Anthropology S58, 207.

2013. Williams, S.A., Churchill, S.E., Ostrofsky, K.R., Schmid, P., Frater, N., Berger, L.R. The number of vertebrae in early hominins: insights from Australopithecus sediba. American Journal of Physical Anthropology S56, 292.

2013. Shattuck, M.R., Thompson, N., Williams, S.A. The evolution of brain size and longevity in mammals. American Journal of Physical Anthropology S56, 252.

2013. Petrullo, L.A., Shattuck, M.R., Williams, S.A. Extensive convergence between giant panda and hominoid vertebral formulae. American Journal of Physical Anthropology S56, 221.

2012. Williams, S.A. Variation in hominoid vertebral formulae: implications for the evolution of the hominin vertebral column. American Journal of Physical Anthropology S54, 304.

2011. Williams, S.A. Evolutionary history of the hominoid vertebral formula. American Journal of Physical Anthropology S52, 257.

2011. Roseman, C.C., Williams, S.A., Grabowski, M.W., O'Connor, C., Cheverud, J., Polk, J.D. A genotype- phenotype map of a mammalian pelvis using a mouse model. American Journal of Physical Anthropology S52, 312-313.

2010. Williams, S.A. Morphological integration and the knuckle-walking complex: implications for the evolution of knuckle-walking and bipedalism. American Journal of Physical Anthropology S50, 244.

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

2009. Williams, S.A. Modularity in the hominoid vertebral column: implications for the evolution of orthogrady. American Journal of Physical Anthropology S48: 426.

2009. Shattuck, M.R., Williams, S.A. The influence of arboreality on longevity in mammals: a test of the evolutionary theory of aging. American Journal of Physical Anthropology S48: 366.

2008. Williams, S.A., Grabowski, M.W., Polk, J.D., Roseman, C.C. Phenotypic integration and evolution in the African ape third manual ray. American Journal of Physical Anthropology S46: 223.

2008. Grabowski, M.W., Williams, S.A., Roseman, C.C., Polk, J.D., 2008. Phenotypic integration in the macaque postcranial skeleton. American Journal of Physical Anthropology S46: 106.

2008. Polk, J.D., Peterson, J., Williams, S.A. Sexual dimorphism, body size, and joint posture in primates. American Journal of Physical Anthropology S46: 173.

2008. Williams, S.A., Shattuck, M.R. Arboreality and longevity in mammals. Midwest Primate Interest Group, Notre Dame, IN.

2006. Williams, S.A. Variation in the African ape third manual ray: implications for the evolution of knuckle-walking? Midwest Primate Interest Group, Urbana, IL.

Current News/Projects
Updated July 2015

I am an evolutionary morphologist and paleoanthropologist with primary research interests in the evolution of positional behavior (posture and locomotion) during human evolution. My research focus is not on a particular time period; rather, I am interested in evolutionary transitions in the hominoid fossil record, from 20 million-year-old extinct apes to modern human and ape variation and the entirety of human evolution in between. The major focus of my academic work has been on the primate postcranial skeleton and specifically the vertebral column (spine). I have worked to describe and analyze in a large comparative dataset the vertebral column of a new species of early hominin, Australopithecus sediba. Late last year, I was part of a team that excavated and cataloged a large number of hominin fossils at Rising Star Cave in the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa. I worked with an international team of researchers to describe a new and surprising species of hominin that will undoubtedly alter the way we think about human evolution.

I continue to teach undergraduate courses like Human Evolution, Human Origins, Problems and Perspectives in Human Evolution, and Evolution and Biology of Human Behavior, along with graduate courses like Interpreting Human Skeletal Morphology and Integrative Paleoanthropology I. I hope to offer new graduate and undergraduate courses in the future. I have also been invited to give talks, both internally at NYU (Evening Evolution Group, Center for Genomics and Systems Biology) and at other universities (Yale, Stony Brook, City University of New York, Washington University, St. Louis). In 2012 and 2013, I served on the American Association of Physical Anthropologists Program Committee, and, since January 2014 I have served as Associate Editor at the Journal of Human Evolution. I am also a contributor to the Encyclopedia of Human Evolution (B.A. Wood, ed. 2013 and online).

In addition to continuing PhD students Cody Prang and Jenny Eyre, Dr. Gabrielle Russo worked with me as a post-doctoral researcher in the Spring of 2014. We are currently finalizing several research projects on fossil hominin vertebrae and a comparative study of the ursid (bear) vertebral column, with implications for the evolution of convergent traits in hominoids (apes). Alex DeCasien joined the PhD program in 2014 to work with me and Dr. James Higham on skeletal correlates of sexual selection. I will be accepting applications for admission to our PhD program in 2015 for the 2016 academic year.

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