Nathaniel J Dominy

Nathaniel J Dominy
Dartmouth College · Department of Anthropology

Ph.D.

About

194
Publications
68,960
Reads
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7,147
Citations
Additional affiliations
July 2010 - present
Dartmouth College
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
July 2004 - June 2010
University of California, Santa Cruz
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
September 1998 - December 2001
University of Hong Kong
Position
  • PhD Student

Publications

Publications (194)
Article
Full-text available
Paleoanthropologists have long argued-often contentiously-about the climbing abilities of early hominins and whether a foot adapted to terrestrial bipedalism constrained regular access to trees. However, some modern humans climb tall trees routinely in pursuit of honey, fruit, and game, often without the aid of tools or support systems. Mortality a...
Article
Small human body size, or the 'pygmy' phenotype, is characteristic of certain African, Southeast Asian and South American populations. The convergent evolution of this phenotype, and its strong association with tropical rainforests, have motivated adaptive hypotheses that stress the advantages of small size for coping with food limitation, warm, hu...
Article
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Starch consumption is a prominent characteristic of agricultural societies and hunter-gatherers in arid environments. In contrast, rainforest and circum-arctic hunter-gatherers and some pastoralists consume much less starch. This behavioral variation raises the possibility that different selective pressures have acted on amylase, the enzyme respons...
Article
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Silica is crucial to terrestrial plant life and geochemical cycling on Earth. It is also implicated in the evolution of mammalian teeth, but there is debate over which type of siliceous particle has exerted the strongest selective pressure on tooth morphology. Debate revolves around the amorphous silica bodies (phytoliths) present in plants and the...
Article
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Aeroscapes—dynamic patterns of air speed and direction—form a critical component of landscape ecology by shaping numerous animal behaviors, including movement, foraging, and social and/or reproductive interactions. Aeroecology is particularly critical for sensory ecology: air is the medium through which many sensory signals and cues propagate, inhe...
Article
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Bipedal trackways discovered in 1978 at Laetoli site G, Tanzania and dated to 3.66 million years ago are widely accepted as the oldest unequivocal evidence of obligate bipedalism in the human lineage 1–3 . Another trackway discovered two years earlier at nearby site A was partially excavated and attributed to a hominin, but curious affinities with...
Article
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Mechanical loading of finger bones (phalanges) can induce angular curvature, which benefits arboreal primates by dissipating forces and economising the recruitment of muscles during climbing. The recent discovery of extremely curved phalanges in a hominin, Homo naledi, is puzzling, for it suggests life in an arboreal milieu, or, alternatively, habi...
Article
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Studies of living and mummified baboons hint at why ancient Egyptians revered these pesky primates and reveal the probable location of a fabled kingdom
Article
Grit is implicated in several biological phenomena—it wears teeth, it fractures teeth, it drives tooth evolution, it elicits complex manual manipulations—any one of which could be described as a central topic in evolutionary anthropology. But what is grit? We hardly know because we tend to privilege the consequences of grit (it is abrasive) over it...
Article
The rise and spread of tropical grasslands was a signal event in the Cenozoic, causing many ungulates to evolve adaptations to a diet of graminoid tissues, or graminivory. In parallel, a lineage of monkeys (Theropithecus) is distinguished among primates for its large size and commitment to graminivory, a trait expressed by species throughout the Pl...
Article
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1. Desert locusts Schistocerca gregaria are threatening the food security of millions of people and devastating economies in eastern Africa and northern India. The ongoing outbreak is the largest in seven decades. 2. These events give us cause to reflect on the natural history of locusts, our fraught relationship with them, and how they are repres...
Article
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The Red Sea was witness to important events during human history, including the first long steps in a trade network (the spice route) that would drive maritime technology and shape geopolitical fortunes for thousands of years. Punt was a pivotal early node in the rise of this enterprise, serving as an important emporium for luxury goods, including...
Article
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Cash currency is a deeply symbolic instrument of commerce. It holds value, of course, but the face value of a given coin or banknote far exceeds its intrinsic (commodity) value. Money today is a representation––the value is determined by fiat by an issuing authority, usually a central bank or government. It is also a medium for spreading nationalis...
Preprint
The twin shocks of locusts and COVID-19 are threatening the food security of millions of people and devastating economies in eastern Africa and northern India. The ongoing outbreak of desert locusts (Schistocerca gregaria) is the largest in seven decades. These events give us cause to reflect on the natural history of locusts, our fraught relations...
Article
The adaptive origins of primates and anthropoid primates are topics of enduring interest to biological anthropologists. A convention in these discussions is to treat the light environment as binary—night is dark, day is light—and to impute corresponding selective pressure on the visual systems and behaviors of primates. In consequence, debate has t...
Article
Background Fifty years ago, the groundbreaking British sketch seriesMonty Python’s Flying Circus premiered on BBC One and forever changed the world of comedy. The humour transcended mere absurdity by poking a subversive finger in the eye of buttoned-up British society. Here, we commemorate this cultural milestone and simultaneously call attention t...
Article
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Abstract Charles Darwin viewed eyes as the epitome of evolution by natural selection, describing them as organs of extreme perfection and complication. The visual system is therefore fertile ground for teaching fundamental concepts in optics and biology, subjects with scant representation during the rise and spread of immersive technologies in K-12...
Article
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Documenting the natural diversity of eukaryotic organisms in the nonhuman primate (NHP) gut is important for understanding the evolution of the mammalian gut microbiome, its role in digestion, health and disease, and the consequences of anthropogenic change on primate biology and conservation. Despite the ecological significance of gut-associated e...
Article
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Background: Comparative data from non-human primates provide insight into the processes that shaped the evolution of the human gut microbiome and highlight microbiome traits that differentiate humans from other primates. Here, in an effort to improve our understanding of the human microbiome, we compare gut microbiome composition and functional po...
Article
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Microbiomes are vast communities of microorganisms and viruses that populate all natural ecosystems. Viruses have been considered to be the most variable component of microbiomes, as supported by virome surveys and examples of high genomic mosaicism. However, recent evidence suggests that the human gut virome is remarkably stable compared with that...
Article
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The gut microbiome of primates, including humans, is reported to closely follow host evolutionary history, with gut microbiome composition being specific to the genetic background of its primate host. However, the comparative models used to date have mainly included a limited set of closely related primates. To further understand the forces that sh...
Article
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Treeshrews are small, squirrel-like mammals in the order Scandentia, which is nested together with Primates and Dermoptera in the superordinal group Euarchonta. They are often described as living fossils, and researchers have long turned to treeshrews as a model or ecological analogue for ancestral primates. A comparative study of colour vision-enc...
Article
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Identifying the determinants of reproductive success in small-scale societies is critical for understanding how natural selection has shaped human evolution and behavior. The available evidence suggests that status-accruing behaviors such as hunting and prosociality are pathways to reproductive success, but social egalitarianism may diminish this p...
Preprint
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The eponymous vocalizations of howling monkeys (genus Alouatta ) are associated with territorial defense and male-male competition, yet the extreme loudness of howls, which are among the loudest vocalizations of any terrestrial mammal, have yet to be fully explained. Loudness facilitates long-distance sound propagation but the effectiveness of any...
Preprint
Full-text available
Microbiomes are vast communities of microbes and viruses that populate all natural ecosystems. Viruses have been considered the most variable component of microbiomes, as supported by virome surveys and examples of high genomic mosaicism. However, recent evidence suggests that the human gut virome is remarkably stable compared to other environments...
Article
Full-text available
Hair is a useful source of biological information. For example, the bulb can be a source of high-quality genetic material, whereas the shaft can be useful for measuring heavy metals and some hormones, such as cortisol. The stable isotope composition of hair is another valuable source of biological information. Consequently, noninvasive methods of h...
Article
In 1972, Sherwood Washburn, one of the forerunners of biological anthropology, gave an invited address during the 4th Congress of the International Primatological Society in Portland, Oregon, in which he expounded his vision for the field of primatology. His address was published the following year in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology a...
Article
Over the past decade several studies have reported that the gut microbiomes of mammals with similar dietary niches exhibit similar compositional and functional traits. However, these studies rely heavily on samples from captive individuals and often confound host phylogeny, gut morphology, and diet. To more explicitly test the influence of host die...
Article
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Bone daggers were once widespread in New Guinea. Their purpose was both symbolic and utilitarian; they functioned as objects of artistic expression with the primary function of stabbing and killing people at close quarters. Most daggers were shaped from the tibiotarsus of cassowaries, but daggers shaped from the femora of respected men carried grea...
Article
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New World monkeys are a diverse primate group and a model for understanding hearing in mammals. However, comparable audiograms do not exist for the larger monkeys, making it difficult to test the hypothesized relationship between interaural distance and high-frequency hearing limit (i.e., the allometric model). Here, the auditory brainstem response...
Article
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The short-wavelength sensitive (S-) opsin gene OPN1SW is pseudogenized in some nocturnal primates and retained in others, enabling dichromatic colour vision. Debate on the functional significance of this variation has focused on dark conditions, yet many nocturnal species initiate activity under dim (mesopic) light levels that can support colour vi...
Article
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The residential mobility patterns of modern hunter-gatherers broadly reflect local resource availability, but the proximate ecological and social forces that determine the timing of camp movements are poorly known. We tested the hypothesis that the timing of such moves maximizes foraging efficiency as hunter-gatherers move across the landscape. The...
Chapter
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Visual sensory demands vary substantially across vertebrates. Different visual sensory components have evolved to meet these sensory demands and enhance visual behavioral performance. One of these components is the retinal specialization, which is a portion of the retina with generally high ganglion cell densities, which increase spatial resolving...
Article
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The bicentennial celebration of the inception of Frankenstein invites the present view of Victor Frankenstein and his fateful deci- sion to destroy an unfinished female creature. The act itself was impulsive (caused by a “sensation of madness”), but it was preceded by agonized reasoning that would be familiar to any student of ecology or evolutiona...
Article
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Colugos are among the most poorly studied mammals despite their centrality to resolving supraordinal primate relationships. Two described species of these gliding mammals are the sole living members of the order Dermoptera, distributed throughout Southeast Asia. We generated a draft genome sequence for a Sunda colugo and a Philippine colugo referen...
Article
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Recent reports suggest that dietary ethanol, or alcohol, is a supplemental source of calories for some primates. For example, slow lorises (Nycticebus coucang) consume fermented nectars with a mean alcohol concentration of 0.6% (range: 0.0–3.8%). A similar behaviour is hypothesized for aye-ayes (Daubentonia madagascariensis) based on a single point...
Article
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Figs are keystone resources that sustain chimpanzees when preferred fruits are scarce. Many figs retain a green(ish) colour throughout development, a pattern that causes chimpanzees to evaluate edibility on the basis of achromatic acces- sory cues. Such behaviour is conspicuous because it entails a succession of discrete sensory assessments, includ...
Article
Full-text available
Debate on the adaptive origins of primates has long focused on the functional ecology of the primate visual system. For example, it is hypothesized that variable expression of short- (SWS1) and middle-to-long-wavelength sensitive (M/LWS) opsins, which confer color vision, can be used to infer ancestral activity patterns and therefore selective ecol...
Article
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The gastrocnemius muscle-tendon unit (MTU) is central to human locomotion. Structural variation in the human gastrocnemius MTU is predicted to affect the efficiency of locomotion, a concept most often explored in the context of performance activities. For example, stiffness of the Achilles tendon varies among individuals with different histories of...
Article
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Arctic reindeer have unusual eyes and vision. In contrast to most mammals, reindeer can see ultraviolet light, which is invisible to us. They also have a reflective tissue in the eye that changes from a golden color during the summer months to a deep blue color during the winter months. Together, these special traits help reindeer see plant foods o...
Article
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Stable isotope data provide insight into the foraging ecology of animals. Traditionally, carbon and nitrogen isotope values have been used to infer dietary and habitat preferences. Oxygen isotopes are used less frequently but may complement the ecological information provided by carbon and nitrogen, particularly in densely forested or arid environm...
Chapter
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Ourknowledgeabouttheperceptualworldofhowlermonkeysisunevenly distributed between the five senses. Whereas there is abundant knowledge about the sense of vision in the genus Alouatta, only limited data on the senses of hearing, smell, taste, and touch are available. The discovery that howler monkeys are the only genus among the New World primates to...