Max Planck Research Award Winners 2010

Timothy Bromage and Michael Tomasello

Human Evolution
  • Timothy Bromage

    Professor Dr. Timothy Bromage
    has been a professor at New York University College of Dentistry since 2004. One of his research interests is located in Malawi, where he examines the structure of bones and teeth to draw inferences on the living conditions of early humans. Findings on the micro level, which only a few researchers have investigated so far, are proving particularly enlightening. Bromage hopes to use them to discover the answers to difficult questions such as whether bones and teeth belonged to a male or female individual and whether there was more than one annual rainy season at the time. In the course of his research, he discovered a new mechanism which uses the lamellar construction of bones as the basis for drawing conclusions on growth rate and individual life history. The award will help Bromage to develop the investigation of bones and teeth into an even more important tool for research into human evolution. He is currently compiling a database which he will use to compare the metabolism and bone structure of today’s apes and humans. He has been honoured for his academic achievements by the National Science Foundation (2009, 2007), the National Geographic Society (2008) and the National Institute of Health.


  • Michael Tomasello

    Professor Dr. Michael Tomasello
    born in Bartow, Florida (USA), is psychologist and Director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. He heads the Department of Comparative and Developmental Psychology. Working at the interface of the humanities and natural sciences he is particularly interested in the acquisition of language and cultural evolution in humans. In numerous empirical studies involving small children and great apes Tomasello is trying to determine the cognitive abilities which differentiate humans from highly-developed great apes, enabling them to create a shared human culture. The researcher is convinced that one of the key elements in this is humankind’s ability to see things through other people’s eyes and to imitate both their behaviour and the intentions associated with it. For his research Tomasello has been awarded numerous prizes including the Fyssen Foundation Prize for Cognitive Science, 2004, the Jean Nicod Prize for Philosophy of Cognitive Science, 2006, the Oswald Külpe Prize, University of Würzburg, 2009, and the Hegel Prize, City of Stuttgart, 2009. He has cooperated with a number of Humboldt Research Fellows in his role as an academic host in the Humboldt Foundation’s network, including the Sofja Kovalevskaja Award Winner, Brian Hare.

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