Primate Functional Anatomy, Evolution, and Extinction

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My name is Zachary Klukkert, I am a Biological Anthropologist and an Assistant Professor of Anatomy at the Central Michigan University College of Medicine. I teach human anatomy as part of an integrated pre-clinical curriculum for CMU medical students.


The Klukkert lab's mission is to explore the evolution of primates and how these animals have interacted with their environments through time. Specifically, this work identifies functional attributes of the musculoskeletal anatomy that relates to feeding and the paleobiology of diminished and extinct primate communities in the Caribbean and Madagascar. A better understanding of recently extinct species facilitates greater temporal depth of inquiry into the widespread decline of primate species diversity around the world and may yield insights that inform conservation strategies today. Laboratory research includes analysis of skeletal morphology using virtual 3D models and simulations while complimentary field work involves collection of fossils from flooded cave sites using SCUBA and cutting-edge new technologies for underwater survey and excavation.


An essential part of this work involves communicating with the public what's being learned from research into the anthropogenic extinctions and the persisting ecological changes associated with these losses. In line with this goal, my colleagues and I contributed to the 2019 documentary "When Whales Walked" and we were featured in the National Science Foundation's public outreach in celebration of National Fossil Day, 2020. Additional coverage can be found in Forbes Science, Outside Magazine, and 7Días News in the Dominican Republic. Finally, I am assisting with presenting new insights to the public in the countries that host my fieldwork with new and expanded museum and visitor center exhibits. 



© 2020 by Zachary Klukkert