I am interested in human evolution in general, and specifically in the events surrounding the origin and diversification of early hominins in the Mio-Pliocene and how these processes were shaped by underlying environmental and ecological factors. The big questions my research seeks to explore concern the evolutionary history of the earliest human ancestors subsequent to the human-ape split about 7 million years ago. I attempt to discern phylogenetic relationships and patterns of species diversity among early hominins by deciphering their anatomical, behavioral, locomotor, and dietary adaptations. Yet, the paleobiology of these early hominins cannot be fully understood without comprehending the paleoenvironmental and paleoecological context within which these evolutionary processes took place. Hence the need to understand their biotic and abiotic environments by studying the associated fauna, which is another important aspect of my research. I am also interested in the evolutionary history of the non-human primates (cercopithecidae) that are often encountered in Plio-Pleistocene hominin sites.
To accomplish these goals I undertake the following:
Fieldwork: Discovery of hominin and nonhuman fossils by leading an international and multidisciplinary field project at Plio-Pleistocene sites;
Laboratory work: Preparation, curation, and analysis of original extant and fossil primates, including hominin remains, at various museums around the world;
Analytical work: Application of recent imaging and visualization techniques to investigate internal and external fossil anatomies;
Faunal study: Fossil faunal analysis to explore environmental and ecological factors affecting human and primate evolution.
Check out Zeray's Ted talk entitled "The Search for Humanity's Roots."