In 2016 Susana Carvalho
was awarded the prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize, offering £100,000 to help enhance her research career. Susana Carvalho is an Associate Professor in the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology and an Associate Director for Palaeoanthropology and Primatology at the Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, where she currently coordinates the long-term ‘Paleo-Primate Project’.
Susana's work is at the foundation of a new academic sub-discipline: non-human primate archaeology. Her studies revealed for the first time the behavioural patterns and contexts that generate modern chimpanzee tool assemblages that can be compared with those recovered from the past, for apes and humans.
Susana's research addresses some of the most challenging questions in the field of archaeology: How old is hominin technology? Which toolmakers can we associate with the first lithic industries? Can we document material culture in Pliocene deposits? What is the role of raw materials in the emergence of technology? Whenand how did technology-related behaviours (e.g. transport selection) emerge? Which traits of individuals (e.g. age, skill) influence social learning and the transmission of knowledge?
Susana Carvalho’s current funded projects include tackling the environmental andbehavioural contexts of the earliest tool users in the Koobi Fora formation, Kenya (funded by N.S.F., with D.R. Braun); investigating human origins and adaptations in complex environments with the Paleo-Primate Project Gorongosa, Mozambique (funded by the John Fell Fund, National Geographic Society, and Gorongosa Restoration Project); and testing hypotheses for how technological-related behaviours emerged in hominin evolution via using wild chimpanzees as models, e.g. the project ‘Stones on the move: the real life of a chimpanzee tool’, funded by the National Geographic Society. Researchers in Susana’s new lab ‘Primate Models for Behavioural Evolution’ conduct a broad variety of exciting studies on the evolution of human behaviourusing extant primates as models (e.g. cumulative culture in non-human primates; primate behavioural responses to shifts in predation pressures; automated approaches to find fossil sites, etc.).
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