Functional morphology of the primate vertebral column
Research in the Nalley Lab focuses on the biomechanics of primate locomotion, specifically the relationships among the vertebral column, skull, and the pectoral girdle. Using comparative morphology and locomotor modeling, our research investigates the evolution of bipedality in the human lineage, as well as the historical patterns of positional behavior in living and fossil primates. Related areas of research include examining musculoskeletal plasticity in the vertebral column and how behavior and ontogeny influence adult vertebral morphologies at both the microscopic and gross levels.
Human ancestors and the evolutionary history of the human vertebral column
We aim to identify phylogenetic and ontogenetic differences across the entire vertebral column in humans, apes, and fossil species.
Functional morphology of primate cervical vertebrae, basicranium, and shoulder
We investigate the function-form relationships between cranial shape, cervical bony and soft tissue morphologies, and positional behaviors to better understand adaptation in living primates and to aid reconstructions of behavior in fossil taxa.
i. Ward CV, Nalley TK, Spoor F, Tafforeau P, Alemseged Z. 2017. Thoracic Vertebral Count and Thoracolumbar Transition on Australopithecus afarensis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Jun 6;114(23):6000-6004. DOI: 10.10073/pnas.1702229114.
ii. Nalley TK, Grider-Potter N. 2017. Functional analyses of the primate upper cervical vertebral column. J Hum Evol. 2017. Jun:107:19-35. doi 10.1016/jhevol.2017.03.010.
iii. Nalley TK, Grider-Potter N. 2015. Cervical vertebrae morphology and its relationships to head and neck posture in primates. Am J Phy Anthropol 156 (4), p 531-542.
iv. Nalley TK, Lewton KL. 2015. From the Ground Up: Integrative Research in Primate Locomotion. Am J Phy Anthropol 156 (4), p 495-497
COMP student Magda Garcia presenting her research on the comparative ontogeny of the C1 and L1 vertebrae in extant hominoids at the 2017 WesternU Graduate College of Biomedical Sciences MSMS Research Symposium.