The research themes of team 2 use anatomical data essentially obtained by CT, micro-CT, or by synchrotron imaging. Through innovative technology as well as highly capable academic and industrial collaborations (notably in the areas of image processing and the acquisition of high resolution data), we can better characterize the variability of phenotypic traits in teeth and bones amongst past and present human populations.
The results of current themes of research are applied to both the study of human fossil remains and the development of new tools in the medical domain (forensic medicine, dentistry…). Concerning human remains, we are working toward the development of innovative methods that reduce the subjectivity of the observer, allowing us to better define phenotypic traits the most characteristic of past human groups and their kinship. Regarding medical applications, we are working toward the development of methods in which the expert’s opinion is replaced by evidence-based tools.
Whether bone or tooth, three important aspects are analyzed, their relationships being equally studied:
Ontogenesis (growth concerning size changes throughout life, development surrounding architectural changes).
Therefore a total of six major research themes are pursued within team 2: three for bone and three for tooth (Figure 1). These 4 major themes are handled in a framework as integrated as possible, always ensuring to maintain an equilibrium between paleoanthropological and medical applications.
Two essential stages of human evolution are dealt with, each one backed by research in the field. The first stage concerns the African origins of the first humans (genus Homo), of between two and three million years. Field research has been conducted in this area since 2002 (an archeological mission directed by J Braga). The second stage concerns the Asiatic origin of the first populations of Homo sapiens. Field research associated with this latter theme has been conducted in Mongolia since 2009, under the direction of J Braga and Y Coppens.