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Birth and human evolution - implications from computer-assisted reconstructions

English title Birth and human evolution - implications from computer-assisted reconstructions
Applicant Häusler Martin
Number 176319
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Evolutionäre Medizin IEM Medizinische Fakultät Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Anthropology, Primatology
Start/End 01.10.2017 - 30.09.2021
Approved amount 800'000.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Anthropology, Primatology
Gynaecology

Keywords (5)

sexual dimorphism; geometric morphometrics; evolutionary medicine; human evolution; obstetrics

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Die menschliche Geburt ist ungewöhnlich komplex verglichen mit anderen Säugetieren. Geburtsschwierigkeiten kommen deshalb häufig vor, welche zu Problemen für Mutter und Kind führen und heutzutage vielfach mit Kaiserschnitten gelöst werden müssen. Diese Geburtsschwierigkeiten werden traditionell durch einen evolutionären Konflikt erklärt zwischen einem möglichst engen, gut an den aufrechten Gang angepassten Becken und einem möglichst weiten Geburtskanal, welches Neugeborene mit einem grossen Gehirn erlaubt. Dieses sogenannte obstetrische Dilemma kam in den letzten Jahren von zahlreichen Seiten unter Beschuss, ohne dass aber eine gute Alternative vorgeschlagen wurde. Unser Projekt untersucht nun das obstetrische Dilemma von drei verschiedenen Aspekten.
Lay summary

Die Erforschung der evolutionären Hintergründe der Geburtsschwierigkeiten wird durch den fragmentarischen Zustand der meisten Hominiden-Fossilien erschwert. Verschiedene Rekonstruktionen der gleichen Beckenfossilien führten zudem oft zu widersprüchlichen Resultaten. In einem ersten Teil des Projektes wenden wir modernste CAD-Techniken und statistische Methoden an, um eine repräsentative Auswahl der Becken unserer fossilen Vorfahren virtuell zu rekonstruieren. Dabei wollen wir den Spielraum ausloten, mit dem die Beckenfragmente unterschiedlich zusammengesetzt werden können, um den Rekonstruktionsprozess möglichst objektiv und reproduzierbar zu machen.

Der zweite Teil des Projektes untersucht die Hypothese, dass der Geschlechtsunterschied im Becken zusammen mit der Gehirngrösse während der menschlichen Evolution zunahm. Dies gibt gleichzeitig einen unabhängigen Anhaltspunkt für ein knappes Verhältnis zwischen mütterlichem Becken und dem kindlichen Kopf.

Im dritten Teil des Projekts untersuchen wir mittels Computersimulationen den Geburtsvorgang im Verlaufe der menschlichen Evolution. Dies erlaubt uns erstmals, die Interaktion des Kindes mit der komplexen dreidimensionalen Form des Geburtskanals voll zu berücksichtigen, aber auch die ganze Dynamik des Geburtsvorganges mit der Einwirkung der Weichteile, der Beckenbodenmuskulatur, der Lockerung der Bänder und der Verformbarkeit des kindlichen Kopfes.

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext des Forschungsprojekts

Unser innovatives Projekt stellt einen bedeutenden Fortschritt über frühere Studien dar, welche auf umstrittenen Beckenrekonstruktionen beruhten und üblicherweise einige wenige Beckenmasse mit dem Durchmesser des kindlichen Kopfes verglichen. Unsere Resultate werden nicht nur helfen, den evolutionären Ursprung der Geburtsschwierigkeiten beim Menschen zu verstehen; sie sind auch fundamental für zukünftige biomechanische Studien über die Evolution des aufrechten Ganges. 
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 22.10.2017

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Pelvis
HaeuslerMartin, RUffChristopher (2020), Pelvis, in Richmond B. G., Zipfel B., Ward C. V. (ed.), Oxford University Press, Oxford, 181-201.
Rib cage anatomy in Homo erectus suggests a recent evolutionary origin of modern human body shape
Bastir Markus, García-Martínez Daniel, Torres-Tamayo Nicole, Palancar Carlos A., Beyer Benoît, Barash Alon, Villa Chiara, Sanchis-Gimeno Juan Alberto, Riesco-López Alberto, Nalla Shahed, Torres-Sánchez Isabel, García-Río Francisco, Been Ella, Gómez-Olivencia Asier, Haeusler Martin, Williams Scott A., Spoor Fred (2020), Rib cage anatomy in Homo erectus suggests a recent evolutionary origin of modern human body shape, in Nature Ecology & Evolution, s41559-020.
A comparative morphometric assessment of sexual dimorphism in the human sacrum
KrennV, FornaiC, WebbN, HaeuslerM (2020), A comparative morphometric assessment of sexual dimorphism in the human sacrum, in American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 171(S69), 149.
How to make a bipedal primate: 1 part phylogeny, 2 parts selection and a pinch of body size
WebbN, Harcourt-SmithW, PontzerH, HaeuslerM, GrabowskiM (2020), How to make a bipedal primate: 1 part phylogeny, 2 parts selection and a pinch of body size, in American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 171(S69), 303.
KSD-VP-1/1 from Woranso Mille, Ethiopia, does not conform to known Australopithecus afarensis pelvic morphology
HaeuslerM., FornaiCinzia, KrennV. A., WebbN. M. (2020), KSD-VP-1/1 from Woranso Mille, Ethiopia, does not conform to known Australopithecus afarensis pelvic morphology, in American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 171, 111.
Pelvic evidence for taxonomic heterogeneity within Australopithecus at Sterkfontein Member 4 (South Africa)
Fornai C, Krenn V, Webb N, Haeusler M (2020), Pelvic evidence for taxonomic heterogeneity within Australopithecus at Sterkfontein Member 4 (South Africa), in American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 171(S69), 88.
Variation of 3D outer and inner crown morphology in modern human mandibular premolars
Krenn Viktoria A., Fornai Cinzia, Wurm Lisa, Bookstein Fred L., Haeusler Martin, Weber Gerhard W. (2019), Variation of 3D outer and inner crown morphology in modern human mandibular premolars, in American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 169(4), 646-663.
Morphology, pathology, and the vertebral posture of the La Chapelle-aux-Saints Neandertal
Haeusler Martin, Trinkaus Erik, Fornai Cinzia, Müller Jonas, Bonneau Noémie, Boeni Thomas, Frater Nakita (2019), Morphology, pathology, and the vertebral posture of the La Chapelle-aux-Saints Neandertal, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(11), 4923-4927.
Australopithecus variability at Sterkfontein: evidence from the pelvic remains
FornaiC, KrennV, WebbN, HaeuslerM (2019), Australopithecus variability at Sterkfontein: evidence from the pelvic remains, in Proc Europ Soc Hum Evol, 8, 63.
KSD-VP-1/1: the “Big Man” just got bigger
WebbN, KrennV, FornaiC, HaeuslerM (2019), KSD-VP-1/1: the “Big Man” just got bigger, in Proc Europ Soc Hum Evol, 8, 198.
Morphological variation and sexual dimorphism of the modern human sacrum
KrennV, FornaiC, HaeuslerM (2019), Morphological variation and sexual dimorphism of the modern human sacrum, in Proc Europ Soc Hum Evol, 8, 98.
Musculoskeletal System
HaeuslerMartin, BenderNicole, AldakakLafi, GalassiFrancesco M., EppenbergerPatrick, HennebergMaciej, Rühli Frank (2019), Musculoskeletal System, in Brüne Martin, Schiefenhövel Wulf (ed.), Press, Oxford, 269-300.
Reviving australopithe-cine birth: contribution of numerical simulation
FrémondièreP, ThollonL, MarchalF, FornaiC, WebbN, Haeusler M (2019), Reviving australopithe-cine birth: contribution of numerical simulation, in Proc Europ Soc Hum Evol, 8, 65.
Spinal pathologies in fossil hominins
HaeuslerMartin (2019), Spinal pathologies in fossil hominins, in Kramer P.A., Been Ella, Gómez-Olivencia A. (ed.), Spinger, Cham, 213-245.
The acquisition of human verticality with an emphasis on sagittal balance
TardieuChristine, HaeuslerMartin (2019), The acquisition of human verticality with an emphasis on sagittal balance, in Labelle Hubert, Gehrchen Martin, Pinheiro-Franco João Luiz , Roussouly Pierre (ed.), Thieme, New York, 13-22.
The partial skeleton StW 431 provides new insights into the palaeobiology of Plio-Pleistocene hominins from Sterkfontein, South Africa
MachoGabriele, FornaiCinzia, ToussaintMichel, HaeuslerMartin (2019), The partial skeleton StW 431 provides new insights into the palaeobiology of Plio-Pleistocene hominins from Sterkfontein, South Africa, in Proceedings of the European Society for the studies of Human Evolution, 8, 116.
The partial skeleton StW 431 provides new insights into the palaeobiology of Plio-Pleistocene hominins from Sterkfontein, South Africa
MachoG, FornaiC, ToussaintM, HaeuslerM (2019), The partial skeleton StW 431 provides new insights into the palaeobiology of Plio-Pleistocene hominins from Sterkfontein, South Africa, in Proc Europ Soc Hum Evol, 8, 116.
Upper limb fossils of Homo naledi from the Lesedi Chamber, Rising Star System, South Africa
FeuerriegelElen, VoisinJean-Luc, ChurchillSteven, HaeuslerMartin, MathewsSandra, SchmidPeter, HawksJohn, BergerLee R. (2019), Upper limb fossils of Homo naledi from the Lesedi Chamber, Rising Star System, South Africa, in PaleoAnthropology, 311-349.
CT-scan data of juvenile pelvises: ap-plication for 3D fossil reconstruction
BonneauN, FornaiC, KrennV, GorincourG, HaeuslerM (2018), CT-scan data of juvenile pelvises: ap-plication for 3D fossil reconstruction, in Proc Europ Soc Hum Evol, 7, 22.
Morphological variation of the modern human sacrum with implications for early hominins
FornaiC, NüeschM, KrennV, HaeuslerM (2018), Morphological variation of the modern human sacrum with implications for early hominins, in American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 165(S66), 87-88.
Unexpectedly high morphological variability in the Australopithecus sacrum. Implications for sexual and taxonomic diversity
FornaiC, KrennV, NüeschM, HaeuslerM (2018), Unexpectedly high morphological variability in the Australopithecus sacrum. Implications for sexual and taxonomic diversity, in Proc Europ Soc Hum Evol, 7, 67.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Pierre Frémondière/School of Midwifery, Marseille France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Karin Isler/Anthropologie, Uni Zürich Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Martin Urschler/University of Auckland New Zealand (Oceania)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Philippe Mitteröcker/Universität Wien Austria (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Bernhard Zipfel/University of the Witwatersrand South Africa (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Christine Tardieu/Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Nicole Grunstra/Konrad Lorenz Institut Wien Austria (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Lionel Thollon/Laboratoire de Bioméchanique, Marseille France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Thomas Frauenfelder/Universität Zürich Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Markus Bastir/Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Madrid Spain (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Christopher Ruff/John Hopkins University United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Robert Martin/Field Museum, Chicago United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
François Marchal/Anthropologie, Aix Marseille Université France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Gabriele Macho/University of Oxford Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Erik Trinkaus/Washington University, Saint Louis United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Alessandro Uricioli/Institut Crusafont, Barcelona Spain (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
European Society for the studies of Human Evolution Talk given at a conference Diverse Beiträge (siehe wissenschaftlicher Bericht) 26.09.2019 Liège, Belgium Webb Nicole; Häusler Martin; Krenn Viktoria; Fornai Cinzia;
ISEMPH - International Society for Medicine and Public Health Talk given at a conference Evidence for adaptation to malaria in the human ancestor Australopithecus africanus, 2.6 million years ago 12.08.2019 Zürich, Switzerland Häusler Martin; Krenn Viktoria; Fornai Cinzia;
ISEMPH - International Society for Medicine and Public Health Talk given at a conference Why is human childbirth so complex? The obstetrical dilemma hypothesis revisited 12.08.2019 Zürich, Switzerland Häusler Martin; Krenn Viktoria; Webb Nicole;
ISEMPH - International Society for Medicine and Public Health Talk given at a conference oes the ecological model challenge the obstetrical dilemma? Evidence from historical Swiss data 12.08.2019 Zürich, Switzerland Krenn Viktoria; Häusler Martin; Webb Nicole; Fornai Cinzia; Koepke Nikola;
ISEMPH - International Society for Medicine and Public Health Talk given at a conference New Insights Into Caesarean Section Risk Prediction Using Machine Learning 12.08.2019 Zürich, Switzerland Häusler Martin; Webb Nicole;
East African Association of Paleoanthropology and Paleontology Conference Talk given at a conference Diverse Beiträge (siehe wissenschaftlicher Bericht) 01.08.2019 Nairobi, Kenya Häusler Martin; Krenn Viktoria; Webb Nicole; Fornai Cinzia;
FEMALE PELVIC FEATURES NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN OSTEOARCHAEOLOGY, MEDICINE AND EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY Talk given at a conference Why is human childbirth so complex? Implications from virtual reconstructions 28.11.2018 Wien, Austria Häusler Martin; Krenn Viktoria; Fornai Cinzia; Webb Nicole;
FEMALE PELVIC FEATURES NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN OSTEOARCHAEOLOGY, MEDICINE AND EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY Poster Sexual dimorphism of the human sacrum revisited 27.11.2018 Wien, Austria Häusler Martin; Fornai Cinzia; Webb Nicole; Krenn Viktoria;
European Society for the studies of Human Evolution Talk given at a conference Diverse Beiträge (siehe wissenschaftlicher Bericht) 13.09.2018 Faro, Portugal Krenn Viktoria; Webb Nicole; Bonneau Noémi; Häusler Martin; Fornai Cinzia;
ISEMPH - International Society for Medicine and Public Health Talk given at a conference The obstetrical dilemma – evidence from historical Swiss data 01.08.2018 Park City, United States of America Häusler Martin; Koepke Nikola;
American Association of Physical Anthropology Talk given at a conference diverse Beiträge (siehe wissenschaftlicher Bericht) 11.04.2018 Austin, United States of America Krenn Viktoria; Webb Nicole; Häusler Martin; Fornai Cinzia;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
The obstetrical dilemma and the evolution of human birth 05.12.2018 Universität Zèrich, Switzerland

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Der aufrechte Gang: Verspannungen, Verschleiss, Geburtsgefahren Talk 12.11.2019 Universität Zürich, Switzerland Häusler Martin;


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
156299 Evolutionary origin of major musculoskeletal disorders of modern humans 01.10.2014 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

Obstructed labour is a leading cause of maternal and neonatal death and morbidity. It mainly results from a misfit between fetal head size and maternal pelvis. Traditionally attributed to a trade-off between selection for large-brained neonates and a biomechanically efficient, narrow pelvis for bipedal locomotion, this obstet-rical dilemma (OD) has recently been questioned in various ways. Yet, alternative hypotheses fail to explain the evolution of our complex birth mechanism, neurologically immature neonates, and our marked pelvic sexual dimorphism compared to other primates. Here, I propose 3 subprojects to advance our understanding of the OD: (1) I aim to restore a comprehensive evolutionary series of fossil hominin pelves in an objective way using state-of-the-art virtual image and ge-ometric morphometric methods since an evolutionary approach to the OD was so far complicated by often conflicting reconstructions of the same specimens. (2) I explore the hypothesis that pelvic sexual dimorphism increased during human evolution in concert with encephalization. Thus, our reconstructions will for the first time allow assessment of sexual pelvic dimorphism in early hominins while the degree of sexual dimorphism would provide an indirect measure for cephalo-pelvic disproportion. (3) Novel finite-element simulations of the birth process in fossil hominins allow taking into account the complex 3D shape of both the birth canal and the fetus as well as the dynamic nature of the birth process with ligamentous laxity, moulding of the fetal head and interference with the soft-tissue. Our innovative approach constitutes a major progress to previous studies that usually compared a few 2D measurements of the pelvis and fetal head. Assessing both the passageway and passenger in its full 3D shape is indispensable to predict the origins and evolutionary implications of obstructed labour. Further, our results are fundamental for future biomechanical analyses of hominin locomotion.
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