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Frank Williams

Frank L'Engle Williams received his B.A. from the University of Florida, and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Before coming to Georgia State, he was a post-doctoral researcher at Pennsylvania State University where he investigated the effects of various craniofacial disorders on the mandible using Computed Tomographic scans and image analysis.

Courses Taught:
Anth 1102: Introduction to Anthropology
Anth 2010: Introduction to Biological Anthropology
Anth 4300/6300: Human Evolution
Anth 4330/6330: Primate Behavioral Ecology
Anth 4360/6360: Methods and Theories in Biological Anthropology
Anth 4370/6370: Forensic Anthropology

Enamel surface image of Oreopithecus bambolii (IGF 11778), a 7 million year old fossil ape from Italy

Research Interests: Biological Anthropology, Human Evolution, Primates, Ontogeny, Growth Models, Neandertals, South African Australopithecus, Dental Microwear

Dr. Williams is interested in applying a developmental perspective to the human fossil record. He seeks to understand the role of juvenilization, or neoteny, in human evolution by comparing the growth signal obtained from infant, juvenile and adult Neandertal fossils to those acquired from modern human, chimpanzee and bonobo skulls. He recently spear-headed research into examining how Plio-Pleistocene southern African climate change may have driven developmental perturbations, and thus evolutionary change, in Australopithecus (A. africanus and A. robustus) and cercopithecid monkeys (Parapapio, Papio, Dinopithecus, Theropithecus, Gorgopithecus and Cercopithecoides). Dr. Williams has also explored the scaling relationship between primate anatomical structures, body size and specific locomotor repertoires, such as bipedalism. Fluent in Dutch (from his ethnographic fieldwork on environmental issues in the Netherlands), he recently translated an anatomical description of Perodicticus potto (a prosimian) from 19th century Dutch to English. His published articles and abstracts can be found in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Journal of Human Evolution, Current Anthropology, Folia Primatologica, Clinical Anatomy, Homo-Journal of Comparative Human Biology, Palaios, Anatomical Record and Journal of Archaeological Sciences. His published book chapters appear in Patterns of Growth and Development in the Genus Homo (eds. Thompson et al., 2003), Human Evolution through Developmental Change (eds. Minugh-Purvis and McNamara, 2002) and Neanderthals on the Edge (eds. Stringer et al., 2000). His book, Exploring Biological Anthropology, was published by Oxford University Press in 2010.


Dr. Williams curates the Dental Microwear Laboratory in the Department of Anthropology at Georgia State University which houses a unique collection of dental impressions (n = 375), including specimens referred to Parapapio, Papio, Theropithecus, Gorgopithecus, Dinopithecus, Cercopithecoides and Australopithecus as well as modern primate comparative material from Papio, Theropithecus, Colobus, Procolobus, Alouatta, Cebus, Pongo, Pan and Gorilla. Low-magnification stereomicroscopy, statistical tools and a digital library of occlusal surfaces are available for students and researchers to address the biochronology and paleoecology of Plio-Pleistocene southern Africa.

Selected Publications

Williams FL (2014) Dietary reconstruction of Pliocene Parapapio whitei from Makapansgat, South Africa, using dental microwear texture analysis. Folia Primatologica 85:21-37.

Williams FL (2013) Neandertal craniofacial growth and development and its relevance for modern human origins. In The Origins of Modern Humans: Biology Reconsidered (Smith F and Ahern J, eds.). Wiley, pp. 253-284.

Williams FL (2013) Enamel microwear texture properties of IGF 11778 (Oreopithecus bambolii) from the late Miocene of Baccinello, Italy. Journal of Anthropological Sciences 91: 201-217.

Williams FL, Schroeder L, Ackermann RR (2012) The mid-face of lower Pleistocene hominins and its bearing on the attribution of SK 847 and StW 53. Homo - Journal of Comparative Human Biology 63:245-257

Williams FL, Holmes NA (2012) Dental microwear texture analysis of late Pliocene Procynocephalus subhimalayanus (Primates: Cercopithecidae) of the Upper Siwaliks, India. Central European Journal of Geosciences 4:425-438.

Forouzan F, Glover JB, Williams FL, Deocampo D (2012) Portable XRF analysis of zoomorphic figures, “tokens,” and sling bullets from Chogha Gaveneh, Iran. Journal of Archaeological Sciences 39: 3534-3541.

Williams FL, Holmes NA (2011) Evidence of terrestrial diets in Pliocene Eurasian papionins (Mammalia: Primates) inferred from low-magnification stereomicroscopy of molar enamel use-wear scars. Palaios 26: 720-729.

Williams FL (2010) Exploring Biological Anthropology: An Integrated Lab Manual and Workbook. Oxford University Press: New York.

Williams FL and Patterson JW (2010) Reconstructing the paleoecology of Taung, South Africa from low-magnification of dental microwear features in fossil primates. Palaios 25: 439–448.

Robinson CA and Williams FL (2010) Quantifying mental foramen position in extant hominoids and Australopithecus: Implications for its use in studies of human evolution. Anatomical Record 293: 1337–1349.

Williams FL (2009) We will age. American Scientist 97:4-5.

Williams FL and Orban R. (2007) Ontogeny and phylogeny of the pelvis in Gorilla, Pongo, Pan, Australopithecus and Homo. Folia Primatologica 78: 99–117.

Williams FL, Ackermann RR, Leigh SR. (2007) Inferring Plio-Pleistocene southern African biochronology from facial affinities in Parapapio and other fossil papionins. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 132:163–174.

Williams FL, Belcher RL and Armelagos GJ (2007) On Meroitic Nubian crania, Fordisc 2.0, and human biological history. A reply to SOY Keita. Current Anthropology 48: 425-427.

Williams FL and Armelagos A (2007) On the misclassification of Nubian crania: Are there any implications for assumptions about human variation? A reply to M Hubbe and W Neves. Current Anthropology 48:285-288.

Williams FL (2006) A comparison of the Krapina lower facial remains to an ontogenetic series of Neandertal fossils. Periodicum Biologorom 108:279–288.

Smeenk D, Godfrey LR and Williams FL (2006) The early specimens of the potto Perodicticus potto (Statius Müller, 1776) in the National Museum of Natural History, Leiden, with the selection of a neotype. Zoologische Mededelingen 80:139–164.

Williams FL, Belcher RL and Armelagos G (2005) Forensic misclassification of ancient Nubian crania: Implications for assumptions about human variation. Current Anthropology 46:340–346.

Williams FL and Hall JM (2005) Homo erectus, two species or one? General Anthropology 10:1, 8-10.

van vark GN, Kuizenga D and Williams FL (2005) A reply to Jantz and Owsley: Kennewick, Luzia and later human evolution. Fysisch Anthropologische Mededelingen 13:27-31.

Williams FL and Krovitz GE (2004) Ontogenetic migration of the mental foramen in Neandertals and modern humans. Journal of Human Evolution 47:199–219.

Williams FL and Richtsmeier JT (2003) Comparison of mandibular landmarks from computed tomography and 3-D digitizer data. Clinical Anatomy 16:494–500.

Williams FL, Godfrey LR and Sutherland MR (2003) Diagnosing heterochronic perturbations in the craniofacial evolution of Homo (Neandertals and modern humans) and Pan (P. troglodytes and P. paniscus). In Patterns of Growth and Development in the Genus Homo (Thompson J Krovitz G and Nelson A, eds). Cambridge Studies in Biological and Evolutionary Anthropology, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK, pp. 295–319.

van Vark GN, Kuizenga D and Williams FL (2003) Kennewick and Luzia: Lessons from the European Upper Paleolithic. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 121:181–184.

Williams FL, Godfrey LR and Sutherland MR (2002) Heterochrony and the evolution of Neandertal and modern human craniofacial form, In Human Evolution through Developmental Change (N. Minugh-Purvis and K. McNamara, eds.). Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, pp. 405–441.

Williams FL (2000) Heterochrony and the human fossil record: Comparing Neandertal and modern human craniofacial ontogeny, In Neanderthals on the Edge: 150th Anniversary Conference of the Forbes' Quarry Discovery (C. Stringer, R.N.E. Barton and C. Fenlayson, eds.). Oxbow Books: Oxford, UK, pp. 257–267.

Godfrey LR, Sutherland MR, Paine RR, Williams FL, Boy DS and Vullaume-Randriamanantena M (1995) Limb bone joint surface areas and their ratios in Malagasy lemurs and other mammals. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 97:47-59. Williams FL (1989) Early hominid evolution. Florida Journal of Anthropology 14:51-55.