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Center for Functional Anatomy

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Adam D. Sylvester

E-Mail: asylves4(at)
Phone: 410-955-7892

1830 E. Monument St., Room 307A
Baltimore, MD 21205 USA


Ph.D. Anthropology, The University of Tennessee, 2006
M.A. Anthropology, The University of Tennessee, 2000
B.S. Zoology, The University of Tennessee, 1996

Research Focuses

Early hominin, human and primate locomotion
Functional anatomy of the postcranial skeleton
Statistical analysis of biological shape
Bone structure and microstructure

Most generally, I am interested in elucidating the factors that shape mammalian musculoskeletal morphology. My research focuses on understanding the way in which humans and non-human primates move through the environment with the goal of reconstructing the locomotor repertoire of extinct hominins and other primates. I find this area of research compelling because the evolutionary success of terrestrial species is contingent upon their ability to obtain food, water, safety and potential mates – all of which depend on locomotion. My approach is quantitative, involving the statistical analysis of three-dimensional biological shapes (geometric morphometrics), specifically musculoskeletal structures, and then linking the anatomy to function and function to locomotor behavior. I am also interested in expanding the current geometric morphometric toolbox to be more useful to functional morphologists, providing the means to extract functionally and biomechanically relevant information from relevant morphology.

Special Links

Curriculum Vitae

Recent/Noteworthy Publications

Sylvester, A.D. and Terhune, C.E. (2017). Trabecular mapping: Leveraging geometric morphometrics for analyses of trabecular structure. American Journal of Physical Anthropology DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.23231.

Auerbach, B.M., Gooding, A.F., Shaw, C.N., and Sylvester, A.D. (2017). The relative position of the human fibula to the tibia influences cross‐sectional properties of the tibia. American Journal of Physical Anthropology DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.23196.

Reeves, N.M., Auerbach, B.M., and Sylvester, A.D. (2016) Fluctuating and directional asymmetry in the long bones of captive cottin-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus). American Journal of Physical Anthropology 160:41-51. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22942

Sylvester, A.D. (2015) Femoral condyle curvature is correlated with knee walking kinematics in ungulates. The Anatomical Record 298:2039-2050. DOI: 10.1002/ar.23274

Sylvester, A.D. (2013) A geometric morphometric analysis of the hominid medial tibial condyle. The Anatomical Record 296:1518-1525. DOI: 10.1002/ar.22762

Kramer, P.A., Sylvester, A.D. (2013) Humans, geometric similarity, and the Froude number: Is “reasonably close” really close enough? Biology Open 2: 111-120. DOI: 10.1242/bio.20122691

Sylvester, A.D., Pfisterer, T. (2012) Quantifying lateral femoral condyle ellipticalness in chimpanzees, gorillas, and humans. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 149:458-467. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22144

Auerbach, B.M., Sylvester, A.D. (2011) Allometry and Apparent Paradoxes in Human Limb Proportions: Implications for Scaling Factors. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 144: 382-391. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21418

Sylvester, A.D., Kramer, P.A., Jungers, W.L. (2008) Humans are not (quite) isometric. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 137: 371-383. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.20880

Sylvester, A.D., Merkl, B.C., Mahfouz, M.R. (2008) Assessing A.L. 288-1 femur length using computer-aided three-dimensional reconstruction. Journal of Human Evolution 55: 665-671. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2008.05.019

Sylvester, A.D. (2006) Locomotor decoupling and the origin of hominin bipedalism. Journal of Theoretical Biology 242(3): 581-590. DOI: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2006.04.016