Congratulations Ingrid K. Lundeen and Li Li, recipients of the Journal of Human Evolution Early Career Research Paper awards for 2023

The Journal of Human Evolution Early Career Researcher Paper Prize was created in 2022 in honor of the 50th anniversary of the journal to inspire and recognize outstanding research in paleoanthropology and related fields by those in the beginning stages of their career. We are delighted to announce that the following two research papers were determined by the editors to have made the most significant contributions to the journal in 2023.

First Prize

Dr. Lundeen is the 2023 recipient of the First Prize award for her work "Euarchontans from Fantasia, an upland middle Eocene locality at the western margin of the Bighorn Basin" (Volume 176, 103310). The study by Lundeen and Kirk (2023) described and compared 50 new Euarchonta specimens (including crown primates and microsyopid plesiadapiforms) from the middle Eocene locality ‘Fantasia’, located on the western margin of the Bighorn Basin in Wyoming. The analysis of this new fossil material reveals an increased variation in size and morphology compared to other Bridgerian sites, associated with an unusually low diversity of euarchontan taxa. The topography of this locality, situated at a much higher elevation than the other sites of the Bighorn Basin (which was already the case 48 Ma), could possibly explain why ‘Fantasia’ exhibits only a portion of the features usually considered to characterize Eocene basin margin fossil assemblages in this region. This key research paper highlights the importance of taking into account topographic and paleoenvironmental conditions to better understand the evolution of euarchontans from the Bighorn Basin and opens new research avenues to explore the effects of altitudinal variation on body size in both extinct and extant primates.

Highly Commended Prize

Dr. Li is the 2023 recipient of the Highly Commended prize for her work "Did Early Pleistocene hominins control hammer strike angles when making stone tools ?" (Volume 183, 103427). Li et al. (2023) used tool-making behavior during the Oldowan-Acheulean transition to shed light on the evolution of hominin cognitive and technological capabilities. Using Early Pleistocene flake assemblages from 1.95 to 1.4 Ma, Li et al. focused on how hammerstone striking angle, which plays a major role in knapping outcome, became more consistently related to other flake size variables and came to mirror Middle Paleolithic assemblages. These results suggest that by about 1.5 Ma, hominins began to understand how this important tool-making variable affected flake size and implies increased awareness of cause and effect and technical ability. This important study shows how a greater understanding of tool-making techniques can provide new insights into the minds of early hominins.

Both papers are being made freely available to read throughout 2024 on ScienceDirect.


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