Melissa Tallman

Assistant Professor
Department of Biomedical Sciences
223 Padnos Hall

Grand Valley State University
Allendale, MI 49401
Phone: 616-331-3603
Fax: 616-331-2090

See available times here,
or by appointment

BMS 208 - Human Anatomy
BMS 309 - Human Anatomy Lab


Postdoctoral Research Associate, American Museum of Natural History, 2010-2012

Ph.D., Department of Anthropology, Graduate Center, CUNY, 2010 

M.Phil, Department of Anthropology, Graduate Center, CUNY, 2006 

B.A., Department of Anthropology, George Washington University, 2002 

I’m broadly interested in the evolution of locomotor diversity in primates.  To that end, my current research interests can be divided into three projects.  First, my research uses three-dimensional geometric morphometrics (analysis of shape in three dimensions) to examine patterns of postcranial variation in the forelimb and hindlimb of human ancestors.  I am using this data to investigate the underlying processes that drive shape variation in the postcranial skeleton of humans (e.g., patterns of integration/modularity and potential ontogenetic shifts) and the environmental factors that could have been instrumental in past selective events.
Second, I have been working in collaboration with scientists at the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP) in Barcelona, Spain on functional analyses of the Middle-Late Miocene (approximately 9-12 million years ago) hominoids from the Vallès-Penedès Basin in Catalonia.  Miocene apes are interesting in that their morphology can illuminate the progression of the acquisition of adaptations for modern ape locomotor patterns, including bipedality in humans.

Finally, I am investigating the evolution and diversification of new world monkeys in collaboration with a multi-national, multi-institutional team.  Fossil new world monkeys are interesting from a paleontological standpoint because there are many unanswered questions about their relationships to both the extant radiation of new world monkeys and to contemporaneous fossil taxa in Africa, Europe and Asia.  Fossil new world monkeys are also of particular value because the modern monkeys are extremely diverse in their locomotor repertoires, but genetic evidence indicates a single taxon for the origin of the living groups with deep divergence dates for the modern lineages.  Thus, they present an interesting test-case for examining the process of locomotor modification and diversification in primates.  We are also currently investigating re-opening paleontological expeditions at two different sites in South America, as well as continuing work at sites in the Caribbean to add to fossil evidence for this group.

Almécija S, Tallman M, Alba DM, Pina M, Moyà-Solà S, Jungers WL. Submitted. Early hominin Orrorin tugenensis exhibits morphometric affinities with Miocene apes in its proximal femur.

Tallman M. Submitted. A quantitative analysis of the distal ulna of Australopithecus afarensis and Australopithecus africanus. Am J Phys Anthropol.

Tallman M. Accepted. Forelimb to hindlimb shape covariation in extant hominoids and Plio-Pleistocene hominins. Anat Rec.

Tallman M, Almécija S, Reber SL, Alba DM, Moyà-Solà S. In press. The distal tibia of Hispanopithecus laeitanus: more evidence for mosaic evolution in the Miocene. J Hum Evol.

Cooke SB, Tallman M. 2012. New endemic platyrrhine femur from Haiti: description and locomotor analysis. J Hum Evol. 63, 560-567.

Tallman M. 2012. Functional morphology of the distal radius in hominoids and fossil hominins: implications for the evolution of bipedalism. Anat Rec. 295, 454-464.

Harcourt-Smith WEH, Tallman M, Frost SR, Rohlf FJ, Wiley DF, Delson E. 2008. Analysis of selected hominoid joint surfaces using laser scanning and geometric morphometrics: a preliminary report. For E. J. Sargis and M. Dagosto, eds., Mammalian Evolutionary Morphology: A Tribute to Frederick S. Szalay; Springer, Dordrecht, pp. 401-411.


Page last modified August 28, 2012