Anthropology Professors Receive LAS Small Grant Awards

Kaila Folinsbee, Assistant Professor in Anthropology

During the Eocene period, around 50 million years ago, many species of early primate lived in North America. These animals were incredibly diverse, but relatively little is known about many of them because of poor preservation. Most of these extinct species are primarily represented by isolated teeth that are currently curated in museums across the US. Paleoanthropologists have suggested that some of these species are sexually dimorphic (males being significantly larger than females) while others lack sexual dimorphism. Dr. Folinsbee plans to test this hypothesis by measuring these isolated teeth to determine whether they show the same range of variation and biomodal distribution we would expect based on living dimorphic and non-dimorphic primates.

Dr. Folinsbee will visit the American Museum of Natural History and the Peabody Museum to gather a large data set of dental measurements. This project will address the evolution of sexual dimorphism across early primates in a phylogenetic context, and lead to further work on tooth shape differences across species to shed light on early primate behavior, diet and morphology.


Nell Gabiam, Assistant Professor in Anthropology
Nell Gabiam, Assistant Professor, Iowa State UniversityDr. Gabiam will be using her LAS small grant to process the data she gathered this past summer while conducting research in France. The fieldwork was part of a collaborative research with Oxford University’s Refugee Studies Center. The research project focuses on the notion of “statelessness” by looking at three stateless groups, Palestinians, Roma, and Kurds. This past summer, in Paris, I conducted interviews with palestininas of various legal status living in France as well as with French organizations assisting migrants and refugees. The LAS small grant has allowed me to hire a research assistant who will help me transcribe the interviews.”


Max Viatori, Associate Professor in Anthropology
Dr. Viatori will be using his LAS Small Grant to send a graduate student research assistant, Héctor Bombiella-Medina, to Peru for a site visit in Spring 2013.  This work is part of a new project on how Peruvian fishers view the state amidst recent attempts to regulate small-scale fishing and make the state “more present” in the lives and activities of a previously unregulated, but economically and socially significant, sector of the Peruvian economy. This will be the fourth visit Viatori and Bombiella-Medina have made to Peru in the last year to identify potential research sites for a longer-term ethnographic project.


Matthew Hill,  Associate Professor in Anthropology

Over the past ten years, Dr. Matthew Hill has received countless phone calls, e-mails, and drop-ins from students, farmers, fisherman, artifact hunters, among others, asking for help in identifying artifacts, bones, and rocks they have collected in various places. Most of these specimens are run-of-the-mill, for example, spear points, cow bones, or geofacts (i.e., objects that look like they were made or modified by people, but were actually produced naturally). However, several discoveries have turned out to be highly extraordinary, including the focus of this LAS Small Grant:  three specimens belonging to an extinct late Ice Age animal known colloquially as either “stag-moose” or “elk-moose” (C. scotti) (because it combined an elk-like head/antler complex with a moose-like body). The sample includes a shed antler from the Skunk River found shortly after the 2008 flood and a basicranium (i.e., base of the cranium) found last summer in Squaw Creek. Both specimens are from within the city limits of Ames! The third specimen is a basicraium from the West Fork of the Middle Nodaway River in Adair County that was found last summer.

The owners of these specimens have graciously allowed Dr. Hill to remove small cubes of cranial bone/antler for radiocarbon dating in order to determine the absolute age of each specimen. To this end, LAS is supplying the funds for radiocarbon dating. The significance of this research is two-fold. It will provide the first directly dated C. scotti remains in Iowa, which in turn is directly relevant to Dr. Hill’s on-going research on the diet and subsistence behavior of the first human inhabitants in the Midcontinent. It will also provide an exciting avenue for Dr. Hill to delve into debates on the chronology and cause of late Ice Age extinctions as well as the paleoecology of C. scotti.  Stay tuned!



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