Junior Research Group:
“Co-evolution of tool-use and language”

The Junior Research Group of the DFG Center for Advanced studies was established in 2021 with Dr. Alexandros Karakostis as its leader. It is dedicated to exploring the evolutionary interplay between hominin stone tool-use and language. In order to do so, we are developing a novel and multi-disciplinary experimental approach for identifying patterns of brain-hand coordination during stone tool use and/or communication. Our methodological toolkit integrates methods of experimental archaeology, biomechanics, and electroencephalography (EEG).


Dr. Alexandros Karakostis is a Paleoanthropologist specializing in biomechanics, functional morphology, the evolution of the human hand, and forensic anthropology. His research activities have led to the development and experimental validation of novel methodologies for  reconstructing habitual physical activity in past populations, including the "Tübingen University Validated Entheses-based Reconstruction of Activity" ("V.E.R.A.") method. The recent application of his methods to the fossil record have provided new insights into the evolution of manual behavior and  dexterity.

ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Fotios_Karakostis

Selective Publications
  1. Karakostis, F. A. and Harvati, K. New horizons in reconstructing past human behavior: Introducing the “Tübingen University Validated Entheses‐based Reconstruction of Activity” method. Evolutionary Anthropology DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/evan.21892
  2. Karakostis, F. A., Lorenzo, C. (2016). Morphometric patterns among the 3D surface areas of human hand entheses. American journal of Physical Anthropology, 160, 694-707.
  3. Karakostis, F. A., Hotz, G., Scherf, H., Wahl, J., Harvati, K. (2017). Occupational manual activity is reflected on the patterns among hand entheses. American journal of Physical Anthropology, 164, 30–40.
  4. Karakostis, F. A., Jeffery, N. Harvati, K. (2019). Experimental proof that multivariate patterns among muscle attachments (entheses) can reflect repetitive muscle use. Scientific Reports, 9, 16577.
  5. Karakostis, F. A. Wallace, I., Konow, I., Harvati, K. (2019). Experimental evidence that physical activity affects the multivariate associations among muscle attachments (entheses). Journal of Experimental Biology, 222, 213058.
  6. Karakostis, F. A., Hauefle D., Anastopoulou, I., Moraitis, K., Hotz, G., Tourloukis, V., Harvati, K. Biomechanics of the thumb and the evolution of human dexterity. Current Biology DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.12.041
  7. Karakostis, F. A., Hotz, G., Tourloukis, V., Harvati, K. (2018). Evidence of precision grasping in Neandertal daily activities. Science Advances, 4, eaat2369.
  8. Harvati, K., Röding, C., Bosman A., Karakostis F. A., Grün R., Stringer, C. et al. (2019). Apidima Cave fossils provide earliest evidence of Homo sapiens in Eurasia. Nature, 571, 500-504.

Doctoral Students

Simona Affinito has joined the Junior Research Group of our DFG Center as a PhD student in Paleoanthropology. She is interested in the link between anatomy, function and evolution, and in the application of new methodologies to the study of the human fossil record. Simona holds a master’s degree in Biodiversity and Evolution at the University of Bologna where she worked on a project involving the study of the bone internal structure to identify pathological alterations in skeletal collections. She then completed an MSc at the Hull York Medical School where she specialized in functional and evolutionary anatomy. Her previous work involves the study of the biomechanics of the mandible in modern humans and great apes using virtual modelling techniques and biomechanical simulations (FEA). In the context of her PhD project, Simona employs a multidisciplinary experimental approach to explore the evolutionary interplay between tool-use/making and gestural/verbal communication with the goal to provide new insight into the mechanisms underlying the cognitive bases of human tool-use and language.

Email address: simona.affinitospam prevention@uni-tuebingen.de

Brienna Eteson has joined the Junior Research Group in the DFG Center as a PhD student in Paleoanthropology having completed her MSc in Biological Anthropology at the University of Kent in 2020. Her previous research includes the study of muscle attachment sites (entheses) in relation to electromyographic data on muscular recruitment during stone-tool use. Brienna’s areas of interest include evolutionary and functional anatomy and hominin stone-tool use. Whilst undertaking her PhD, Brienna is applying a multidisciplinary approach in experimental research, exploring the potential links between tool use and production with gestural and verbal communication.

Email address: brienna.bill-eteson@uni-tuebingen.de