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The deadline approaches! Those interested in applying for a research grant during our Fall 2013 cycle must complete the application by July 15th. Our website is your source for guidelines for applying as well as the place to start the application process.

We received over one hundred applications for the Spring 2013 cycle, and we expect a similar number for Fall 2013. Here are a few suggestions to help your application stand out from the others and maximize your chances for funding:

‣ Present a clear correlation to human origins. We fund research into human origins, including paleoanthropology of the Miocene, Pliocene and Pleistocene; primate behavior; and the behavioral ecology of contemporary hunter-gatherers. Other areas of study are generally not considered.

‣ State your hypotheses clearly with ways and means of testing them.

‣ Review and accurately cite related literature thoroughly.

‣ Submit a tight budget (Do a lot with a little). Find out from other researchers what they have spent on lodging, food, and transportation in your study area.

We understand you may have questions about the application process, so we've included a few frequently asked questions here: Q: I've received a previous award from The Leakey Foundation. Am I eligible for another? A: Yes, as long as you are fully compliant with the terms of your previous award. You may email us at grants@leakeyfoundation.org to find out what, if any, requirements are outstanding.

Q: Does the Foundation offer scholarships for undergraduate and graduate studies? A: No, Foundation grants are limited to funding for expenses directly related to research projects. Eligible applicants must either hold a PhD or equivalent qualification in anthropology (or a related discipline) or be enrolled in a doctoral program with all degree requirements fulfilled other than the thesis/dissertation.

Q: If I'm not affiliated with a school or research institution, may I apply for a grant? A: No, we do not award directly to individuals.

For a complete listing of frequently asked questions, please click here, and if you have further questions concerning the application process, feel free to contact us at grants@leakeyfoundation.org.

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AuthorBeth Green
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In April we celebrated 45 years of funding science. 40 of those years have been graced with the leadership and generous philanthropy of Mr. Gordon P. Getty. To honor this milestone, the Foundation created the Gordon P. Getty Grant. We also celebrated with six events, in four days, held in San Francisco and Healdsburg, CA.

On Thursday, April 25th, the events were kicked off by a lecture titled The NeuroEconomics of Innovation, by Dr. Michael Platt of Duke University.

The Sterlings

The Sterlings

Friday included a visit to Iron Horse Vineyards where Leakey Foundation Life Trustee Barry Sterling, his wife Audrey and their daughter, Leakey Foundation Trustee Joy Sterling hosted a lovely afternoon.

Among the many gatherings, Saturday evening's gala was certainly a highlight. At the gala, Mr. Getty was honored by the Foundation with the Leakey Legacy Award, for his 40 years of exceptional involvement as a Fellow, Trustee, and eventually Chairman of The Leakey Foundation's Board of Trustees.

Mr. Gordon P. Getty

Mr. Gordon P. Getty

Below are just a few photos from the 4-day-long celebration. Look for a full article about the events in the next issue of AnthroQuest, which will be published later this Summer. [All photos ©Jessamyn Harris]

President Don Dana

President Don Dana

Dick Massey and Alice Corning

Dick Massey and Alice Corning

Johnson and Gomersall.

Johnson and Gomersall.

Book cake

Book cake

What a cake!.

What a cake!.

John Mitani

John Mitani

Silent Auction Bidders

Silent Auction Bidders

Scientists with Mr. Getty

Scientists with Mr. Getty

Posted
AuthorBeth Green
CategoriesUncategorized
Image courtesy of Anne-Elise Martin

Image courtesy of Anne-Elise Martin

Throughout my career, one of my greatest rewards has come from interacting with generations of students. Their fresh, inquisitive minds have continually kept me on my toes. Countless times, I have been stopped in my tracks by smart, unexpected questions that sent me scurrying back to the drawing-board. But I must admit to feeling some dismay when, several years ago, one particular student came up to me at the end of a course and said: “I really enjoyed your lectures about primate evolution, but what is the point?” Well, as a rule my justification for what I do has been to say that studying the evolution of primates—and of humans in particular—is really just like tracing our written history. I simply go much farther back in time. Just as we are keenly interested in recorded history for its own sake, surely we should be interested in our deep biological history as well? But that student made me realize that I do have an obligation to show that understanding human evolutionary history can yield direct practical benefits. And that prompted me to get my act together and finally write my long-planned book for a general readership on the evolution of human reproduction. So I guess I owe a special acknowledgment to that student now that my book How We Do It: The Evolution and Future of Human Reproduction is about to be published.

One crucial point is that suckling is a defining feature of mammals. Indeed, their very name reflects this; it is derived from the Latin mamma for teat. Mothering began 200 million years ago when the first mammals emerged and it was further refined to become a particular hallmark of ancestral primates by 80 million years ago. Now a biological adaptation with that kind of pedigree should surely command our respect! Yet many people today are confused about what is “natural” for human mothers because cultural influences are so overwhelming. It is no exaggeration to say we have lost our way in certain respects. Unfortunately, in the industrialized world, male members of the medical profession were only too willing to offer guidance. They readily provided advice for mothers, absent any understanding of our evolutionary past. Thus it was that decades ago mothers were told to breastfeed their infants following rigid timetables and to avoid any kind of “pampering”. Thankfully, things have gradually moved away from those rigid guidelines. But how are we to know that this is not just a shift in fashion? Well, we know for sure that modern guidelines are more in tune with our biology. For instance, there is a major difference between mammals that suckle on schedule, as decided by the mother, and mammals that suckle on demand in response to the infant’s needs. And we can identify the adaptation of any mammal from milk composition. Mammals that suckle on schedule produce milk that is rich in fat and protein but poor in sugar, whereas mammals that suckle on demand have milk with relatively little fat and protein but a fair amount of sugar. For instance, all primates have that kind of milk because suckling on demand is a universal feature. And humans are no exception. The composition of human milk carries a signature that clearly tells us that we are biologically adapted for frequent suckling in response to the infant’s needs.

Another key question that we need to ask because cultural influences are now so overwhelming is “What is the natural duration of breastfeeding?” This question can be answered in different ways, and they all lead to virtually the same answer. We can, for instance, look at what other primates do. As you might expect, the duration of suckling is longer in larger-bodied primates, so we have to take body size into account. When that is done, the prediction is that a primate with our body size should suckle for about three years. We can also gather information from non-industrial societies, and one study of about a hundred different populations revealed that the average duration of breastfeeding is more than two-and-a-half years. This is also true of earlier human populations. Ancient Egyptian texts, for instance, indicate that breastfeeding for three years was the norm. Indeed, we can even extract information from earlier populations for which no historical records exist. By measuring stable isotopes in skeletons from young individuals, it is possible to tell when weaning occurred, and it was between two and three years of age in populations dating back thousands of years. These and other lines of evidence indicate that the natural duration of breastfeeding in our gathering-and-hunting ancestors was three years or perhaps even more.

Now two things must be emphasized straight away. The first is that exclusive breastfeeding, with no other source of food for the baby, last only six months or so. Complementary foods are provided in addition to the mother’s milk for much of that three-year period. Secondly, it has to be accepted that breastfeeding for three years is not practically possible for many modern mothers and that, for medical reasons, some are unable to breastfeed at all. So the point here is not to dictate a return to our gathering-and-hunting origins but to ensure that any substitute for breastfeeding meets all of the baby’s needs. And in that respect the biological evidence tells us that we still have a long way to go. For instance, in addition to providing nutrients, mother’s milk includes agents that protect the baby against infection until its own immune system is up and running. Bottle-fed babies suffer significantly more from various infections. There is also a large body of evidence indicating that breastfed babies have a small but statistically significant advantage over bottle-fed babies in the development of the brain. For instance, results on tests of mental performance are consistently a few points higher with breastfeeding, at least in part because certain essential fatty acids are more prevalent in human milk than in standard infant formula.

But it is not just the baby that benefits from breastfeeding. The mother benefits as well. Benefits start right after birth when stimulation of the mother’s nipples speeds up the recovery of the womb after the demands of pregnancy and birth. More seriously, various reproductive cancers occur at higher frequencies in women that breastfeed only for short periods or not at all. This is true not just of breast cancer but also of cancers of the ovaries and the womb. Once again, the take-home message is not that women should be obliged to breastfeed for long periods, but that we need to study our biological adaptations to find ways of offsetting any negative effects arising from modern lifestyles.

So, if that one-time student happens to read this, I hope that the point of studying human origins is now fully apparent.

Dr. Robert Martin

Dr. Robert Martin

Dr. Robert Martin is A. Watson Armour III Curator of Biological Anthropology at the Field Museum in Chicago. He has devoted his career to exploring the evolutionary tree of primates, as summarized in his 1990 textbook Primate Origins. Martin is particularly interested in reproductive biology and the brain, because these systems have been of special importance in primate evolution. His research is based on broad comparisons across primates, covering reproduction,anatomy, behaviour, palaeontology and molecular evolution. He has written a new book How We Do It: The Evolution and Future of Human Reproduction, which is due to be published in June 2013.

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AuthorBeth Green
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Jeffrey Laitman (Mt. Sinai School of Medicine) will be speaking at The Field Museum in Chicago, on October 9th, as a part of The Leakey Foundation's Speaker Series on Human Origins. Below is an article, written by Dr. Laitman, describing the moment he realized his interest in studying primates.

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The Magic of the Monkey House: New Insights Into the Anatomy that Makes Primates Primates Jeffrey T. Laitman Associate Editor,† | Article first published online: 16 MAR 2010 | DOI: 10.1002/ar.21131 | © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

De Brazza's Monkey at the Bronx Zoo Monkey House

The year 1958 began as a really horrible one for me. Two events made this so. The first occurred in the early spring when I realized that the Brooklyn Dodgers—our baseball team and the soul of Brooklyn—had abandoned us and fled to some bizarre place where people ate tacos instead of Nathan's franks and where it never snowed. Even their perennial nemesis—the New York Giants—left town for another unfathomable hamlet that was always having earthquakes. My almost 7-year-old mind could not fathom all this; the heroes I worshipped (Jackie Robinson often patted my little crew-cut head) were gone forever. I even became a Yankees fan.

My second crisis occurred before school ended in late spring. Our class had trip to the great American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. I loved museum trips as I got to see dinosaurs, my second passion after the Dodgers. Tyrannosaurs, triceratops, hadrosaurs, I loved them all, but none more than the brontosaurus. I adored the big beasts with little heads, so much so, that I could not help but go under the ropes to climb on one's tail to get “up close and personal.” Caught in this act of defilement by a Goliath-sized museum guard, I was hauled off by the scruff of the neck (those were the days before “spare the rod” philosophy was in effect) and ejected from the Museum. My teacher banned me from future trips.

Ejected and branded (all but a scarlet letter emblazoned on my forehead) in my seventh year. To make matters worse, I had no project to write up for my school report; no postcards of dinos or stuffed grizzlies or meteorites to glue into a folder. I was sure the dreaded—and oft threatened—“summer school” would be my fate. And worst of all—what would I tell my mother? Oy!

As I sat on the front steps of our Brooklyn home, watching the other kids play stickball or marbles, I pondered the enormity of my failure. Lost in my melancholy, I didn't notice my father come home. I was glad he saw me before my mother as she was the disciplinarian and he a gentle Parisian who would say something I didn't understand in French and not get too angry. When I explained what happened, he just said he had an idea, and I should get up early on Sunday.

When Sunday arrived, my dad bundled me into our old Chevy and set off…to the Bronx Zoo. “Forget the dead animals,” dad said, “let's look at live ones.” This was my first time at the Bronx zoo and I was riveted to all the sights and sounds, but, truthfully, nothing set my heart to flutter. The elephants were big, but smelled foul; the seals and sea lions looked and sounded like dogs; the rhinos reminded me of garbage trucks; I was scared of cats the size of small cars. And then I saw a sight that would forever change my world: The Monkey House.

I sat and stared at the assortment of baboons and macaques and squirrel monkeys for most of the day. While I had seen some stuffed ones in the Museum, I never realized that these animals looked and acted so much like my family and friends. I even started to name them in my mind after relatives: there was Aunt Flo, big and bossy; Uncle Joe, snoozing away; Cousin Richie, climbing all over his brother Irwin, on and on. They had hands and fingers and toes that seemed to do all that I could do, and I envisioned them talking together and planning their day. And then it happened: as I pondered my new hairy family, a wad of poop landed smack on my crew-cut head, thrown by some impish baboon. “Wow!” my shocked little mind took a moment to cogitate, “Poop! They hit me with poop! These guys got attitude; they are definitely cool. They could make it in Brooklyn.”

A bond was forged that day between those poop-throwing cousins and me, one that has led me on my own career path: to understand our place among those remarkable relatives. Like most of us who spend our days trying to figure out why we pay taxes and these relatives don't, or how their historical trajectory landed them in the zoo and we were able to enjoy (albeit momentarily for some) the excitement of pondering dinosaurs at a museum, I'm always torn between my scientist's focused curiosity to discover the nuances of our collective anatomical similarities and a profound adoration for these kin. I know it might sound a tad odd to those whose science keeps them at some emotional distance from their object of study (I know you can't get too emotional over a zebrafish, drosophila, or an endoplasmic reticulum), but one of the traits I've found shared by primate biologists—anatomists, paleontologists, anthropologists, lab and fieldworker alike—is our emotional ties to the animals we study. There is undisputable joy in our science, but it is also inseparably coupled with an overriding knowledge that we are studying ourselves.

That fusion of scientific exuberance and “looking-in-the mirror” curiosity has been captured in this month's special issue of The Anatomical Record, “From head to tail: New models and approaches in primate functional anatomy and biomechanics,” guest edited by Jason Organ, Valerie DeLeon, Timothy Smith, and Qian Wang (Organ et al.,2010). This quartet of energetic primates collectively brings to our intellectual forest a robust array of knowledge and insights into cutting edge research on our closest relatives, empowering this issue to cover advances literally from top to bottom. Knowing these, now mature scientists from their intellectual pubescence as graduate students, I've watched their own fine work on tails and skulls, noses and teeth, help redefine our understanding of primate functional anatomy. These guest editors have traveled their own interesting, individual paths to find their love for our cousins: Jason planned on putting his Hebrew school training to good use as a biblical archeologist (his parents were probably so proud!); Valerie, ever the erudite scholar, enraptured by unraveling the intricacies of medieval European history, chartered a career as a field archeologist (and even managed to squeeze in a Law Degree and a stint as a tax attorney in the middle of all that; think of all the money she could have had!); Tim, a true heir of Da Vinci, had an art school background that sharpened his mind to see anatomy in extraordinary ways (not to mention producing outstanding artwork on primates in the process; see, e.g., Burrows and Smith (2003), and the beautiful covers of that issue and this special issue as well); and Qian, whose eight-year old mind was set afire with wonderful and wondrous visions through reading a lay book on primates by the great Chinese anatomist and paleontologist Ju-kang Woo (who, I was fortunate to know and communicate with often throughout my own career.) No matter what their original plans may have been, they all heard the “call of the wild,” so to speak, and were inextricably drawn to search for the Holy Grail of understanding primates.

For those among us that don't cohabitate a primatologists tree, a few words should be said about who primates are and why some of us go gaga over every third molar, tail bone, or nasal concha they possess. While some will argue incessantly that whales are brilliant, felines have consciousness, bees have grammar, or cockroaches will outlive us all (particularly the New York ones; I think I saw one last week with biceps), lets face facts, there's only one sheriff in town, and it's us. This was unambiguously recognized by Linnaeus (1758) who crowned us as “the first” or the “Primates” (spelled with a capital “P” and pronounced “pri-MAY-tees” only when used as the proper noun). To be fair, it is not always clear who has the primate credit-card and who doesn't, and this little point of contention has produced some pretty good arguments over the years (see classic reviews in Szalay and Delson,1979; Martin,1990; Fleagle,1999) Generally speaking, however, our Order consists of: the great (chimps, gorillas, orangs) and lesser (gibbons and siamangs) apes (rumor has it that gibbons at the Bronx zoo are protesting this condescending term; they have received support from “pygmy” chimpanzees and the “killer” whale lobby); monkeys (both Old World ones from Africa and Asia, and New World ones from the Americas); and a generally less well-known group, the prosimians, that include an assortment of lemurs from Madagascar, tarsiers, lorises, galagos, and the little tree shrews. This latter collection has sometimes been derogatively called “lower” primates due to their retention of somewhat more “primitive” features and the public's general lack of familiarity with them (although the “Madagascar” movies have made megastars out of species previously unrecognized outside of zoos.)

In addition to all the living primates listed above are all of our collective parents, grandparents, and relatives going back to the days when we all scrambled around as quasi-bipeds on the savannas of eastern and southern Africa. Indeed, for many of our ilk, the hunt to define a primate is inextricably tied to trying to figure out exactly who Homo sapiens is, and how our particular clan came to be. While arguments have existed aplenty as to who can claim inheritance to the primate lineage, they pale in comparison to the cataclysmic wars that have ensued regarding who is invited to sit at the “grownups” table of our own species. I have seen Distinguished Professors and members of national academies almost come to blow at anthropological or paleontological forums when the preeminence of their cherished fossils (or sacred ideas) have been challenged [to get an idea of the extent of the anger and combativeness that can surround studies on human origins, see the chapter on “Johanson versus the Leakeys” in Hellman (2007)]. To put things in perspective, disagreeing about the importance of someone's fossil is the equivalent to calling their baby “ugly”; go there at your own peril. In the paleoanthropological world, no one gets stars for having the second most important fossil; “close” only counts in horseshoe throwing, not in hominid phylogenetics. At its core, every study of primates, somewhere, somehow, addresses an issue of our own species trajectory.

Pooling their collective energies and interests, our editorial quartet have put together an excellent array of hypothesis-driven science that presents the latest in techniques and approaches searching for those elusive elements that make primates, well, primates. In true comparative mode, the work herein spans the spectrum from modeling studies using nonprimate mammals to examination of humans, with members of our brethren from little bushbabies, to South American monkeys, to baboons, to apes, all making appearances. And the nooks and crannies that are investigated would warm any comparative primate anatomist's heart. Studies take us from prosimian shoulder morphology to the inside of galago noses, from how South American monkeys got their tails to how our weight bearing long bones came to carry their weight. For those among us who are cranial cognoscenti, there are many studies to warm our bones, assessing various aspects of teeth, mandibles, and assorted crevices of the face and vault.

As noted above, the quest for insight into the nature of human origins and human anatomy weaves its way through many studies. Some directly tackle the issue by investigating adaptations and biomechanics among groups of ancestral hominids such as Plio-Pleistocene Australopithecus or enigmatic near-relatives such as the ever-pesky Neanderthals. Many other studies integrate their findings on specific topics with aspects that humans share with other species, or how humans may display autapomorphic features (uniquely derived traits) in these regards. Observations are often tantalizing, and readers will have much to chew on.

Of particular interest to those of us primates whose age is starting to show in our temporal regions, is the potency and diversity of the methods employed in these studies. Our field—and here I refer to primate comparative anatomy and its subsets in aspects of physical anthropology—has come a long, long way from simple calipers measuring a few craniometric points. Don't get me wrong, lumps and bumps have been my bread and butter, and I love my calipers dearly (I also loved my slide-rule—any of you remember these?), yet, we have come a long way from relying solely upon gross dissection or linear measurements. The potency of new technologies, sometimes alone sometimes melded with the strength of the old, can be seen throughout this issue. Indeed, the power of experimental approaches to anatomy, new microanatomical techniques, kinematic and kinetic biomechanical approaches, high-resolution computed tomography (CT), or assessment via Finite Element Modeling and analysis are some of the arrows in the quivers of the cutting-edge papers offered in this special issue. The power of the future is clearly put forward.

“Get off the fence kid,” bellowed the Bronx Zoo guard, “no leaning on the rail.” “I wasn't hurting anything, Mister, just trying to get a closer look at the monkeys,” I tried to explain. “Didn't ya hear me, kid!?” Goliath roared, “I said get your butt…” At this exact moment—forever given a hallowed place in my mind's eye—a wad of poop landed smack in the middle of his bulbous Bronx nose. The zoo guard ignominiously retreated, spewing forth a cacophony of words I was told never to use. It was the perfect ending to the perfect day.

Oh, by the way, I never told my mother what happened at the museum. There was no need to, as I got the highest grade in the class for my report: The Magic of The Monkey House.

Literature Cited

Burrows AM,Smith TD. 2003. Muscles of facial expression in Otolemur, with a comparison to Lemuroidea. Anat Rec 274A:827–836. Direct Link:  Abstract |  Full Article (HTML) |  PDF(578K) |  References

Fleagle JG. 1999. Primate adaptation and evolution. 2nd ed. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Hellman H. 2007. Great feuds in science: ten disputes that shaped the world. New York: Barnes & Noble.

Linnaeus C. 1758. Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines genera, species cum characteribus, differentris, synonymis, locis. Editis decimia, reformata. Stockholm: Laurentii Salvii.

Martin RD. 1990. Primate origins and evolution. A phylogenetic reconstruction. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Organ JM,DeLeon VB,Wang Q,Smith TD. 2010. From head to tail: new models and approaches in primate functional anatomy and biomechanics. Anat Rec 293: 544–548. Direct Link: Abstract |  Full Article (HTML) |  PDF(63K) |  References

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This article first appeared in The Anatomical Record: Advances in Integrative Anatomy and Evolutionary Biology Special Issue: From Head to Tail: New Models and Approaches in Primate Functional Anatomy and Biomechanics Volume 293, Issue 4, pages 541–543, April 2010 The Magic of the Monkey House: New Insights Into the Anatomy that Makes Primates Primates Jeffrey T. Laitman Associate Editor, Article first published online: 16 MAR 2010 DOI: 10.1002/ar.21131 Copyright © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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AuthorBeth Green