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Department of Evolutionary Anthropology

Dr. Colin Shaw

Colin Shaw, Dr.

  • Senior Lecturer
Room number
Y42 K-44

Human Evolutionary EcoPhysiology Research Group

How is adaptation to ancestral environments influencing our interaction with the world today?

Throughout the evolution of our species, natural environments have provided the parameters within which natural selection has acted to shape our biology. During the last 200-300 years, however, urban centres have rapidly become our primary habitat. This change has created an evolutionary mismatch; a situation in which health and wellbeing suffer from an incompatibility between the environment we are adapted to, and the one we currently occupy.

These detrimental effects include unprecedented levels of chronic stress and the associated down-stream negative health consequences. The Human Evolutionary EcoPhysiology (HEEP) research group considers how H. sapiens evolutionary history underpins the health and function (e.g. physical, cognitive and immune) of contemporary humans using methodological approaches from the fields of physiology, psychology, ecology and medicine.


Longman DP, Shaw CN, Varela-Mato V, Sherry AP, Ruettger K, Sayyah M, Guest A, Chen YL, Paine NJ, King JA, Clemes SA. Time in nature associated with decreased fatigue in UK truck drivers. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Saers JPP, DeMars L, Stephens NB, Jashashvilli T, Carlson K, Gordon AD, Shaw CN, Ryan TM, Stock JT. Combinations of trabecular and cortical bone properties distinguish various loading modalities in athletes and controls. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Sorrentino R, Carlson KJ, Bortolini, E, Minghetti C, Feletti F, Fioren L, Frost S, Jashashvilli T, Parr W, Shaw CN, Su A, Turley K, Wroe S, Ryan TM, Belcastro G, Benazzi S. Morphometric analysis of the hominin talus: Evolutionary and functional implications. Journal of Human Evolution, 142: 102747.

Doershuk L, Saers J, Shaw CN, Jashvilli T, Carlson C, Stock JT, Ryan TM. Complex variation of trabecular bone structure in the proximal humerus and femur of five modern human populations. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 168: 104-118.

Perchalski B, Placke A,Sukhdeo SM, Shaw CN, Gosman JH, Raichlen DA, Ryan TM. Asymmetry in the Cortical and Trabecular Bone of the Human Humerus During Development The Anatomical Record, 301:1012–1025.
Ryan TM, Carlson KJ, Gordon AD, Jablonski N, Shaw CN, Stock JT. Human-like hip joint loading in Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus robustus. Journal of Human Evolution, 121:12-24.
Cameron ME, Lapham H, Shaw CN. Examining the influence of hide processing on Native American upper limb morphology. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 28(3): 332-342.
Young M, Johannesdottir F, Poole K, Shaw CN, Stock JT. Assessing the accuracy of body mass estimation equations from pelvic and femoral variables among modern British women of known mass. Journal of Human Evolution, 115: 130-139.

Frelat MA*, Shaw CN*, Sukhdeo S, Hublin JJ, Benazzi S, Ryan TM. Evolution of the hominin knee and ankle. Journal of Human Evolution, 108:147-160. *shared first authors Auerbach BM, Gooding AF, Shaw CN, Sylvester AD. The relative position of the human fibula to the tibia influences cross‐sectional properties of the tibia. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 163(1):148-157.

Saers J, Cazorla-Bak Y, Shaw CN, Stock J, and Ryan T. Trabecular bone structural variation throughout the human lower limb. Journal of Human Evolution, 97:97-108.
Lasisi T, Shosuke I, Wakamatsu K, Shaw CN. Human hair diversity: quantitative variation of hair fibre shape and pigmentation. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 160(2): 341-352.

Nadel JA & Shaw CN. Phenotypic Plasticity and Constraint Along the Upper and Lower Limb Diaphyses of Homo sapiens. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 159:3, 410-422.
Ryan TM & Shaw CN. Gracility of the modern Homo sapiens skeleton is the result of decreased biomechanical loading. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112:2, 372-377.

Slizewski A, Schönau E, Shaw CN, Harvati K. Muscle area estimation from cortical bone. Anatomical Record, 296:11, 1695-1707.
Gosman JH, Hubbell ZR, Shaw CN, Ryan TM. Development of cortical bone geometry in the human femoral and tibial diaphysis. Anatomical Record, 296:5,  774-787.
Migliano A, Romero IG, Shaw CN et al. Evolution of the pygmy phenotype: evidence of positive selection from genome-wide scans in African, Asian, and Melanesian pygmies. Human Biology, 85:1-3, 251-284.
Ryan TM & Shaw CN. Scaling of trabecular microstructure in the primate humerus and femur. Proceedings of the Royal Society: B, 280:1758, 1-9.
Stock JT, Shirley MK, Sarringhaus LA, Davies TG, Shaw CN. Skeletal evidence for variable patterns of handedness in chimpanzees, human hunter-gatherers, and recent British populations. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, June, 1288:86-99.
Shaw, CN & Stock, JT. Extreme mobility in the Late Pleistocene? Comparing limb biomechanics among fossil Homo, varsity athletes and Holocene foragers. Journal of Human Evolution, 64:4, 242-249.
Macintosh AA, Davies T, Ryan TM, Shaw CN, Stock JT. Periosteal vs. true cross-sectional geometry: A comparison along humeral, femoral, and tibial diaphyses. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 150:3, 442-452.

Davies T, Shaw CN, Stock JT. A test of a new method and software for the rapid estimation of cross-sectional geometric properties of long bone diaphyses from 3D laser surface scans. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, DOI 10.1007/s12520-012-0101-8.
Shaw CN, Hofmann CL, Petraglia MD, Stock JT, Gottschall JS. Neandertal humeri may reflect adaptation to scraping tasks, but not spear thrusting. Public Library of Science One, 7(7): e40349.
Ryan TM & Shaw CN. Unique suites of trabecular bone features characterise locomotor behaviour in human and non-human anthropoid primates. Public Library of Science One, 7(7): e41037. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041037.
Shaw CN & Ryan TM. Does skeletal anatomy reflect adaptation to locomotor patterns?: Cortical and trabecular architecture in human and non-human Anthropoids?” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 147:187-200.

Marchi D & Shaw CN. Variation in fibular robusticity reflects variation in mobility patterns. Journal of Human Evolution, 61(5): 609-616.
Shaw CN. “Is ‘hand preference’ coded in the hominin skeleton?”; An in-vivo study of bilateral morphological variation. Journal of Human Evolution, 61:480-487.
Shaw, CN & Stock, JT. The influence of body proportions on femoral and tibial midshaft shape in hunter-gatherers. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 144, 1:22-29

Shaw, CN. ‘Putting flesh back onto the bones?’ Can we predict soft tissue properties from skeletal and fossil remains? Journal of Human Evolution, 59: 484-492.
Laskey, MA, de Bono, S, Zhu, D, Shaw, CN, Laskey, PJ, Chatfield, M, Davies, A, Moore, S, Prentice, A. Evidence for enhanced characterization of cortical bone using novel pQCT shape software. Journal of Clinical Densitometry, 13 (3):247-255.

Shaw, CN & Stock, JT. Intensity, repetitiveness, and directionality of habitual adolescent mobility patterns influence the tibial diaphysis morphology of athletes. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 140:149-159.
Shaw, CN & Stock, JT. Habitual throwing and swimming correspond with upper limb diaphyseal strength and shape in modern human athletes. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 140:160-172.

Stock JT & Shaw CN. “Which measures of skeletal robusticity are robust?” A comparison of methods quantifying structural hypertrophy in long bone diaphyses. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 134; 412-423.

DeLorey DS*, Shaw CN*, Shoemaker JK, Kowalchuk JM, Paterson DH. Effect of hypoxia on pulmonary O2 uptake, leg blood flow and muscle deoxygenation during single-leg knee-extension exercise. Experimental Physiology, 89 (3): 293-302. *shared first authors

Book Chapters
Sparacello VS, Villotte S, Shaw CN, Fontana F, Mottes E, Starnini E, Dalmeri G, Marchi D. Changing mobility patterns at the Pleistocene-Holocene transition Lower limb biomechanics of Italian Gravettian and Mesolithic individuals in: Advanced studies on early human adaptations in the Apennine peninsula: Palaeolithic Italy. Borgia V & Cristiani E. Sidestone Press Academics (Leiden), pp. 357-396. 2018.
Shaw CN, Stock JT, Davies TG, Ryan TM. Does the distribution and variation in cortical bone along lower limb diaphyses reflect selection for locomotor economy? In Mobility: Interpreting Behavior from Skeletal Adaptations and Environmental Interactions. Eds. Carlson K, Marchi D. Springer. 2014.
Davies TG, Pomeroy E, Shaw CN, Stock JT. Mobility and the skeleton: A biomechanical view. In: Leary, J. (ed.) Past mobilities: Archaeological approaches to movement and mobility. Farnham: Ashgate. 2014.
Sparacello VS, Marchi D, Shaw CN. The importance of considering fibular robusticity when inferring the mobility patterns of past populations. In Mobility: Interpreting Behavior from Skeletal Adaptations and Environmental Interactions. Eds. Carlson K, Marchi D. Springer. 2014.
Marchi D, Sparacello VS, Shaw CN. Mobility and lower limb robusticity of a pastoralist Neolithic population from North-Western Italy. In Human Bioarchaeology of the Transition to Agriculture. Eds. Stock JT & Pinhasi R. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. 2010.