The New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology
Assistant Professor Department of Anthropology New York University
Ph.D. 2011, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign M.A. 2006, Northern Illinois University B.A. 2003, Kent State University
Email: sawilliams [at] nyu.edu
Tel: (212) 992- 9853
My primary research interests lie in functional morphology and morphological integration of the primate postcranial skeleton, with a special interest in the role of homology and homoplasy in its evolution. Currently, I am working on a research project involving the numerical composition and evolutionary history of the vertebral column in hominoid primates and other mammals, including the recently discovered partial skeletons of Australopithecus sediba from the Malapa site in South Africa. By analyzing fossil specimens and their contemporary counterparts, I am testing hypotheses underlying the interpretation of another fossil specimen, Ardipithecus ramidus, with implications for human evolution and the tempo and mode of hominoid evolution in general.
A second line of my research involves an ongoing life history project concerned with the evolution of longevity in primates and other mammals. In the first iteration of the project, published last year (with Milena Shattuck) and titled, "Arboreality has allowed for the evolution of increased longevity in mammals," we showed that arboreal mammals tend to demonstrate greater longevities, or longer maximal lifespans, than their terrestrial counterparts. We have since compiled corresponding brain size data, and intend to test hypotheses concerning the co-evolution of longevity and encephalization, with implications for primate origins and human evolution.
2011. Williams, S.A. Evolutionary history of the hominoid vertebral column: the long and short of it. Journal of Human Evolution. Accepted, under revision.
2011. Williams, S.A. Evolution of the hominoid vertebral column. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL.
2010. Williams, S.A. Morphological Integration and the evolution of knuckle-walking. Journal of Human Evolution 58, 432-440.
2010. Polk J.D., Williams S.A., Peterson J.V., Roseman C.C., Godfrey L.R. Subchondral bone apparent density and locomotor behavior in extant primates and subfossil lemurs Hadropithecus and Pachylemur. International Journal of Primatology 31, 275-299.
2010. Shattuck M.R., Williams S.A. Arboreality has allowed for the evolution of increased longevity in mammals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 107, 4635-4639.
2009. Polk J.D., Williams S.A., Peterson J.V. Body size and joint posture in primates. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 140, 359-367.