26 General Principles of Evolutionary Morphology

  • Gabriele A. Macho
Reference work entry


Anthropologists analyzing morphology for phylogenetic, functional, or behavioral purposes are confronted by a plethora of obstacles. Morphology is not free to vary but is subject to a number of constraints, which may be historical, developmental, and/or functional. This, together with the fact that the fossil record is scant, confounds meaningful interpretation of phylogenetic pathways and the reconstruction of function and behavior from fossilized remains. To overcome these difficulties, paleoanthropology is becoming increasingly inter- and multidisciplinary, whereby researchers draw on, and incorporate, approaches and findings obtained in other, sometimes very diverse disciplines. The purpose of this contribution is to review the constraints acting on morphology, the limitations faced when interpreting form/function and behavior from morphology, and the different approaches currently explored in paleoanthropology.


Fossil Record Functional Adaptation Extinct Species Tooth Size Phylogenetic Constraint 
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  • Gabriele A. Macho

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