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Kristian J. Carlson
Associate Professor of Clinical Integrative Anatomical Sciences
Integrative Anatomical Sciences
BMT 1333 San Pablo St Health Sciences Campus Los Angeles
+1 323 865 1684


Kristian Carlson was trained as a biological anthropologist in a four-field doctoral program at Indiana University. He completed postdoctoral research in the Department of Anatomical Sciences at Stony Brook University (US) and in the Anthropological Institute and Museum at Zurich University (Switzerland).

His multidisciplinary research program combines comparative anatomy, locomotor mechanics, and bone biology to study form and function in the postcranial skeleton of extant primates, including humans, and human ancestors.

As a functional morphologist, he investigates behavioral correlates in the external and internal structure of limb bones from these groups. From a human health or clinical standpoint, this perspective enables understanding the role non-pharmaceutical factors (e.g., activity) may serve in skeletal maintenance, particularly in reducing or preventing unwanted bone loss. From an anthropological or paleontological standpoint, this perspective enables inferring behaviors in extinct organisms, which is particularly useful for reconstructing their behavioral repertoires. Such reconstructions are crucial pieces of evidence in documenting how extinct organisms engaged with their surrounding habitats, and how this interaction may have changed as environments shifted through geological time.

At USC, he teaches human gross anatomy to first and second year medical students in the Keck School of Medicine.


Comparative analysis of trabecular bone structure and orientation in South African hominin tali. J Hum Evol. 2017 May; 106:1-18. View in: PubMed

Adaptation to suspensory locomotion in Australopithecus sediba. J Hum Evol. 2017 Mar; 104:1-12. View in: PubMed

The Biomechanics of Bony Facial "Buttresses" in South African Australopiths: An Experimental Study Using Finite Element Analysis. Anat Rec (Hoboken). 2017 Jan; 300(1):171-195. View in: PubMed

Comparative biomechanics of Australopithecus sediba mandibles. J Hum Evol. 2016 Nov; 100:73-86. View in: PubMed

Trabecular architecture in the StW 352 fossil hominin calcaneus. J Hum Evol. 2016 Aug; 97:145-58. View in: PubMed

Mechanical evidence that Australopithecus sediba was limited in its ability to eat hard foods. Nat Commun. 2016; 7:10596. View in: PubMed

Recent origin of low trabecular bone density in modern humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Jan 13; 112(2):366-71. View in: PubMed

Cortical structure of hallucal metatarsals and locomotor adaptations in hominoids. PLoS One. 2015; 10(1):e0117905. View in: PubMed

New high-resolution computed tomography data of the Taung partial cranium and endocast and their bearing on metopism and hominin brain evolution. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Sep 9; 111(36):13022-7. View in: PubMed

Physical activity engendering loads from diverse directions augments the growing skeleton. J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact. 2013 Sep; 13(3):283-8. View in: PubMed

Mosaic morphology in the thorax of Australopithecus sediba. Science. 2013 Apr 12; 340(6129):1234598. View in: PubMed

The upper limb of Australopithecus sediba. Science. 2013 Apr 12; 340(6129):1233477. View in: PubMed

Mosaic morphology in the thorax of Australopithecus sediba. Science. 2013 Apr 12; 340(6121):1234598. View in: PubMed

The lower limb and mechanics of walking in Australopithecus sediba. Science. 2013 Apr 12; 340(6129):1232999. View in: PubMed

Joint loads in marsupial ankles reflect habitual bipedalism versus quadrupedalism. PLoS One. 2013; 8(3):e58811. View in: PubMed

Synchrotron Reveals Early Triassic Odd Couple: Injured Amphibian and Aestivating Therapsid Share Burrow. PLoS One. 2013; 8(6):e64978. View in: PubMed

The foot and ankle of Australopithecus sediba. Science. 2011 Sep 9; 333(6048):1417-20. View in: PubMed

The endocast of MH1, Australopithecus sediba. Science. 2011 Sep 9; 333(6048):1402-7. View in: PubMed

A partial pelvis of Australopithecus sediba. Science. 2011 Sep 9; 333(6048):1407-11. View in: PubMed

Apparent density of the primate calcaneo-cuboid joint and its association with locomotor mode, foot posture, and the "midtarsal break". Am J Phys Anthropol. 2010 Jun; 142(2):180-93. View in: PubMed

Gait dynamics of Cebus apella during quadrupedalism on different substrates. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2010 Jun; 142(2):273-86. View in: PubMed

Australopithecus sediba: a new species of Homo-like australopith from South Africa. Science. 2010 Apr 9; 328(5975):195-204. View in: PubMed

Is bone's response to mechanical signals dominated by gravitational loading? Med Sci Sports Exerc. Is bone's response to mechanical signals dominated by gravitational loading? Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Nov; 41(11):2037-43. View in: PubMed

Locomotor variation and bending regimes of capuchin limb bones. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2009 Aug; 139(4):558-71. View in: PubMed

Role of Nonbehavioral Factors in Adjusting Long Bone Diaphyseal Structure in Free-ranging Pan troglodytes. Int J Primatol. 2008 Dec; 29(6):1401-1420. View in: PubMed

Apparent density patterns in subchondral bone of the sloth and anteater forelimb. Biol Lett. 2008 Oct 23; 4(5):486-9. View in: PubMed

Do different locomotor modes during growth modulate trabecular architecture in the murine hind limb? Integr Comp Biol. Do different locomotor modes during growth modulate trabecular architecture in the murine hind limb? Integr Comp Biol. 2008 Sep; 48(3):385-93. View in: PubMed

Building a better organismal model: The role of the mouse--Introduction to the symposium. Integr Comp Biol. 2008 Sep; 48(3):321-3. View in: PubMed

Increased non-linear locomotion alters diaphyseal bone shape. J Exp Biol. 2007 Sep; 210(Pt 17):3117-25. View in: PubMed

Robusticity and sexual dimorphism in the postcranium of modern hunter-gatherers from Australia. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2007 Sep; 134(1):9-23. View in: PubMed

Bone density spatial patterns in the distal radius reflect habitual hand postures adopted by quadrupedal primates. J Hum Evol. 2007 Feb; 52(2):130-41. View in: PubMed

Muscle architecture of the common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes): perspectives for investigating chimpanzee behavior. Primates. 2006 Jul; 47(3):218-29. View in: PubMed

Habitual use of the primate forelimb is reflected in the material properties of subchondral bone in the distal radius. J Anat. 2006 Jun; 208(6):659-70. View in: PubMed

Locomotor behavior and long bone morphology in individual free-ranging chimpanzees. J Hum Evol. 2006 Apr; 50(4):394-404. View in: PubMed

Cutting corners: the dynamics of turning behaviors in two primate species. J Exp Biol. 2006 Mar; 209(Pt 5):927-37. View in: PubMed

External forces on the limbs of jumping lemurs at takeoff and landing. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2005 Oct; 128(2):348-58. View in: PubMed

Investigating the form-function interface in African apes: Relationships between principal moments of area and positional behaviors in femoral and humeral diaphyses. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2005 Jul; 127(3):312-34. View in: PubMed

Gait mechanics of lemurid primates on terrestrial and arboreal substrates. J Hum Evol. 2005 Feb; 48(2):199-217. View in: PubMed

Baboon taphonomy and its relevance to the investigation of large felid involvement in human forensic cases. Forensic Sci Int. 2004 Aug 11; 144(1):37-44. View in: PubMed

Intrinsic qualities of primate bones as predictors of skeletal element representation in modern and fossil carnivore feeding assemblages. J Hum Evol. 2003 Apr; 44(4):431-50. View in: PubMed

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