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Rebecca Rogers Ackermann

Rebecca Rogers Ackermann

Rebecca Ackermann is an Associate Professor in the Department of Archaeology at UCT, and a recipient of the UCT Distinguished Teacher Award.  She received a Masters degree in forensic anthropology (University of Arizona) and a PhD in physical anthropology (Washington University in St. Louis), and was a post-doctoral associate in anatomy (Wash U.) in the USA before taking up her post at UCT in 2000.

Rebecca Ackermann and her research group (housed in the Morphometrics Laboratory) are focussed on understanding how adaptive (selection) and non-adaptive (e.g drift, gene flow) evolutionary processes shape the phenotype in mammals, with an ultimate goal of providing a foundation for detecting these processes in the fossil record of primate and especially human evolution. This research focuses on the skeleton, but the lab also conducts research into other aspects of the phenotype (e.g. hair, hormones), in the context of genetic variation, in order to better extrapolate from variation in the fossil record to the broader biology of our ancestors.  Currently a series of projects fall under this broad umbrella. They include controlled laboratory experiments designed to examine the phenotypic/hormonal/genetic effects of hybridization and the interaction of hybridization, drift and selection in mouse models; field studies of phenotypic and genetic variation in primates across hybrid zones (marmosets, baboons); and collection-based studies of primates (baboons, gorillas), fossil hominin (early Homo, Neanderthals) and fossil primate (Pleistocene cercopithecoid) material, which include an ancient DNA component.  


Recent publications:    

2015      Eichel, K & RR Ackermann. Variation in the nasal cavity of baboon hybrids with implications for late Pleistocene hominins. J Hum Evol.

2015      Ackermann RR, A Mackay, ML Arnold. The hybrid origin of “modern” humans. Evol Biol. DOI: 10.1007/s11692-015-9348-1

2015     LR, J Hawks, DJ de Ruiter, SE Churchill, P Schmid, SA Williams, JM DeSilva, T Kivell, M Skinner, CM Musiba, N Cameron, TW Holliday, W Harcourt-Smith, RR Ackermann, et al.  Homo naledi, a new species of the genus Homo from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa. eLife. 4:e09560. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.09560

2015       Harvati K, C Bauer, FE Grine, S Benazzi, RR Ackermann, KL van Niekerk, CS Henshilwood(2015). A human deciduous molar from the Middle Stone Age (Howiesons Poort) of Klipdrift Shelter, South Africa. J Hum Evol. 82:190-196.

2015      Warren K*, S Hall, RR Ackermann. Cranio-dental evidence for between-population homogeneity in the archaeological record of southern African Iron Age peoples. Trans Royal Soc S Africa.

2015      Sithaldeen R*, RR Ackermann, JM Bishop (2015) Pleistocene aridification cycles shaped the contemporary genetic architecture of southern African baboons. PLoS ONE. 10(5): e0123207. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0123207

2014      Schroeder L*, CC Roseman, JM Cheverud, RR Ackermann. Characterizing the evolutionary path(s) to early Homo. PLoS ONE. 9(12): e114307. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0114307

2014      Ackermann RR, L Schroeder*, J Rogers, JM Cheverud. Further evidence for phenotypic signatures of hybridization in descendant baboon populations. J Hum Evol.  74: 54-62. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2014.05.004.

2014      Irish, JD, W Black*, JC Sealy, RR Ackermann. Questions of Khoesan continuity: Dental affinities among the indigenous Holocene peoples of South Africa.  Am J Phys Anth. 155(1): 33-44. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22526.

2014     Fuzessy LF, IO Silva, J Malukiewicz, FFR Silva, MC Ponzio, V Boere, RR Ackermann. Morphological variation in wild marmosets (Callithrix penicillata and C. geoffroyi) and their hybrids. Evolutionary Biology. 41(3): 480-493. DOI: 10.1007/s11692-014-9284-5.

2014      Warren K*, S Hall, RR Ackermann. Cranio-dental continuity and change between Iron Age peoples and their descendants. South African Journal of Science. 110(7/8), Art. #2013-1275, 11 pp. DOI: 10.1590/sajs.2014/20130275.

2013      de Ruiter DJ, TJ DeWitt, KB Carlson, JK  Brophy, L Schroeder*, RR Ackermann, SE Churchill, LR Berger. Mandibular remains support taxonomic validity of Australopithecus sediba. Science 340. DOI: 10.1126/science.1232997.

2012      Govender R*, A Chinsamy, RR Ackermann. An anatomical and landmark morphometric analysis of the phocid seals from Langebaanweg, South Africa. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa. 67(3):135-149.

2012      Williams FL, L Schroeder*, RR Ackermann. The mid-face of lower Pleistocene hominins and its bearing on the attribution of SK 847 and StW 53.  Homo: J of Comp Human Biology. 63: 245-257.

2011      Wood, B.A., Henry, A., Baker, J., Claxton, A., Mikels, E., Bishop, L., Goodrum, M., Stone, A., Tyron, C., Ackermann, RR., et al. (eds). Blackwell Encyclopedia of Human Evolution. New York: Blackwell, pp. 1264.

2010      Ackermann RR. Phenotypic traits of primate hybrids: recognizing admixture in the fossil record. Evolutionary Anthropology. 19: 258-270.

2010      Ackermann RR and JM Bishop. Morphological and molecular evidence reveals recent hybridization between gorilla taxa.  Evolution. 64: 271-290. DOI: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2009.00858.x

2010      Ackermann RR, JS Brink, S Vrahimis, B de Klerk. Hybrid wildebeest (Artiodactyla: Bovidae) provide further evidence for shared signatures of admixture in mammalian crania. South African Journal of Science. 106(11/12), Art. #423: 5 pp. DOI:10.4102/sajs.v106i11/12.423


Web-publication only:

Ackermann, RR, ed. (2003) A Comparative Primate Dissection Guide, Version 1.0.