Marcia Ponce de León

Senior Research Affiliate


Research Interests
  • Evolutionary developmental biology of fossil
  • Modern hominins and great apes
  • Evolution of the modern human birth process and brain ontogeny
  • Implementation of new methods for morphometric analysis of patterns of craniofacial shape variation
  • Comparative analysis of patterns of pathology and aging in fossil hominins and extant humans


1992 M. S., Biology,


  1. Kawada, M, Masato, N, Nishimura T, Kaneko, A, Ogihara, N, Yamada, S, Coudyzer, W, Zollikofer, CPE, Ponce de León, MS, and Morimoto, N (in press). Human shoulder development is adapted to obstetrical constraints. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA
  2. Vahdati, A. R., Weissmann, J. D., Timmermann, A., de León, M. P., & Zollikofer, C. P. E. (2022). Exploring Late Pleistocene hominin dispersals, coexistence and extinction with agent-based multi-factor models. Quaternary Science Reviews, 279, 107391.
  3. Ponce de León, M.S., Bienvenu, T., Marom, A., Engel, S., Tafforeau, P., Warren, J.L.A., Lordkipanidze, D., Kurniawan, I., Murti, D.B., Suriyanto, R.A., Koesbardiati, T., Zollikofer, C.P.E., (2021). The primitive brain of early Homo. Science 372, 165-171.
  4. Garcia-Martinez, D., Bastir, M., Gomez-Olivencia, A., Maureille, B., Golovanova, L., Doronichev, V., Akazawa, T., Kondo, O., Ishida, H., Gascho, D., Zollikofer, C.P.E., Ponce de León, M., Heuze, Y., (2020). Early development of the Neanderthal ribcage reveals a different body shape at birth compared to modern humans. Science Advances 6, eabb4377.
  5. Morimoto, N., Kunimatsu, Y., Nakatsukasa, M., Ponce de León, M.S., Zollikofer, C.P.E., Ishida, H., Sasaki, T., Suwa, G., (2020). Variation of bony labyrinthine morphology in Mio−Plio−Pleistocene and modern anthropoids. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 173, 276-292.
  6. Ochando, J., Carrión, J., Rodríguez-Vidal, J., Jiménez-Arenas, J., Fernández, S., Amorós, G., Munuera, M., Scott, L., Stewart, J.R., Knul, M., Toro-Moyano, I., Ponce de León, M., Zollikofer, C., 2020. Palynology and chronology of hyaena coprolites from the Piñar karstic Caves Las Ventanas and Carihuela, southern Spain. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 109771.
  7. Alatorre Warren, J.L., Ponce de León, M.S., Hopkins, W.D. & Zollikofer, C. P. E. (2019), Evidence for independent brain and neurocranial reorganization during hominin evolution. Natl. Acad. Sci. 116, no. 44: 22115-22121.
  8. Vahdati AR, Weissmann JD, Timmermann A, Ponce de León MS, and Zollikofer CPE (2019). Drivers of Late Pleistocene human survival and dispersal: an agent-based modeling and machine learning approach. Quaternary Science Reviews 221:105867.
  9. Carrión JS, Fernández S, Jiménez-Arenas JM, Munuera M, Ochando J, Amorós G, Ponce de León M, Zollikofer C, Martín-Lerma I, Toro-Moyano I, Hajdas I, Walker MJ. (2019). The sequence at Carihuela Cave and its potential for research into Neanderthal ecology and the Mousterian in southern Spain. Quaternary Science Reviews 217, 194-216.
  10. Milella M, Gerling C, Doppler T, Kuhn T, Cooper M, Mariotti V, Belcastro MG, Ponce de León MS, Zollikofer CPE. 2019. Different in death: Different in life? Diet and mobility correlates of irregular burials in a Roman necropolis from Bologna (Northern Italy, 1st–4th century CE). Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 27:101926.
  11. Jiménez-Arenas JM, Bienvenu T, Toro-Moyano I, Ponce de León MS, and Zollikofer CPE. 2019. Virtual reconstruction and re-evaluation of the Neanderthal frontal bone from Carigüela Cave (Granada, Spain). Quaternary Science Reviews, 217, 89-97.
  12. Ponce de León, M. S., Koesbardiati, T., Weissmann, J. D., Milella, M., Reyna-Blanco, C. S., Suwa, G., Kondo, O., Malaspinas, A. S., White, T. D. & Zollikofer, C. P. E. (2018) Human bony labyrinth is an indicator of population history and dispersal from Africa. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 115(16), 4128-4133.
  13. Kochiyama, T., Ogihara, N., Tanabe, H. C., Kondo, O., Amano, H., Hasegawa, K., Suzuki, H., Ponce de León, M. S., Zollikofer, C. P. E., Bastir, M., Stringer, C., Sadato, N. & Akazawa, T. (2018) Reconstructing the Neanderthal brain using computational anatomy. Scientific Reports, 8(1), 6296.
  14. Falk D, Zollikofer CPE, Ponce de León MS, Semendeferi K, Alatorre Warren JL, Hopkins WD (2018). Identification of in vivo sulci on the external surfaces of eight adult chimpanzee brains: Implications for interpreting early hominin endocasts. Brain, Behavior and Evolution, 91, 45-58.
  15. Ruff CB, Burgess ML, Junno JA, Mudakikwa A, Zollikofer CPE, Ponce de Leon MS, and McFarlin SC. (2018). Phylogenetic and environmental effects on limb bone structure in gorillas. Am J Phys Anthropol., 10.1002/ajpa.23437
  16. Morimoto, N., Nakatsukasa, M., de León, M.S.P. and Zollikofer, C.P. (2018). Femoral ontogeny in humans and great apes and its implications for their last common ancestor. Scientific reports, 8(1), 1930.
  17. Zollikofer CPE, Scherrer M, Ponce de León MS (2017). Development of pelvic sexual dimorphism in hylobatids: testing the obstetric constraints hypothesis. Anatomical Record 300(5): 859-869
  18. Rightmire GP, Ponce de León MS, Lordkipanidze D, Margvelashvili A, Zollikofer CPE (2017). Skull 5 from Dmanisi: Descriptive anatomy, comparative studies, and evolutionary significance. J. Hum. Evol. 104: 50-79.
  19. Huseynov A, Ponce de León MS, Zollikofer CPE (2017). Development of modular organization in the chimpanzee pelvis. Anatomical Record 330:675-686.
  20. Ponce de León MS, Zollikofer CPE (2016). Primate birth at the extremes: exploring obstetric and metabolic constraints In: Rosenberg K, Trevathan W, editors. Costly and Cute: Helpless Infants and Human Evolution Santa Fe: SAR Press. p 51-66.
  21. Ponce de León MS, Huseynov A, Zollikofer CP. 2016. Developmental solutions to the obstetrical dilemma are not Gouldian spandrels. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 113:E3597-E3598.
  22. Huseynov A, Zollikofer CPE, Coudyzer W, Gascho D, Kellenberger C, Hinzpeter R, Ponce de León MS. (2016). Developmental evidence for obstetric adaptation of the human female pelvis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 113, 5227-5232.
  23. Zollikofer CPE, Bienvenu T, Ponce de León MS (2016). Effects of cranial integration on hominid endocranial shape. Journal of Anatomy 230, 85-105.
  24. Ponce de León MS, Bienvenu T, Akazawa T, Zollikofer CPE. (2016). Brain development is similar in Neanderthals and modern humans. Current Biology 26, R665-R666.
  25. Margvelashvili A, Zollikofer CPE, Lordkipanidze D, Tafforeau, P, and Ponce de León MS (2016). Comparative analysis of dentognathic pathologies in the Dmanisi mandibles. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol., 160(2), 229-253.
  26. Raghavan M, Steinrücken M, Harris K, Schiffels S, Rasmussen S, DeGiorgio M, Albrechtsen A, Valdiosera C, Ávila-Arcos MC, Malaspinas A-S et al. (2015). Genomic evidence for the Pleistocene and recent population history of Native Americans. Science 349(6250).
  27. Rasmussen M, Sikora M, Albrechtsen A, Korneliussen TS, Moreno-Mayar JV, Poznik GD, Zollikofer CPE, Ponce de Leon MS, Allentoft ME, Moltke I et al. (2015). The ancestry and affiliations of Kennewick Man. Nature 523(7561), 455-458
  28. Milella M, Zollikofer CPE, and Ponce de León MS (2015). Virtual reconstruction and geometric morphometrics as tools for paleopathology: A new approach to study rare developmental disorders of the skeleton. The Anatomical Record 298(2):335-345.
  29. Morimoto, N., Suwa, G., Nishimura, T., Ponce de León, M. S., Zollikofer, C. P. E. , Lovejoy, C. O. and Nakatsukasa, M (2015). Let bone and muscle talk together: a study of real and virtual dissection and its implications for femoral musculoskeletal structure of chimpanzees. Journal of Anatomy 226(3):258-267.
  30. Milella M, Zollikofer CPE, and Ponce de León M (2014). A Neolithic case of mesomelic dysplasia from Northern Switzerland. Int. J. Osteoarchaeol. (DOI: 10.1002/oa.2390)
  31. Morimoto N, Ponce de León MS, and Zollikofer CPE (2014). Phenotypic variation in infants, not adults, reflects genotypic variation among chimpanzees and bonobos. PLoS ONE 9(7):e102074.
  32. Zollikofer CPE, Ponce de León MS, Margvelashvili A, Rightmire GP, and Lordkipanidze D (2014). Response to Comment on “Complete skull from Dmanisi, Georgia, and the evolutionary biology of early Homo“. Science 344, 360.
  33. Lordkipanidze D, Ponce de León MS, Margvelashvili A, Rak Y, Rightmire GP, Vekua A, Zollikofer CPE. (2013). A complete skull from Dmanisi, Georgia, and the evolutionary biology of early Homo. Science 342, 326-331.
  34. Lordkipanidze D, Ponce de León MS, Margvelashvili A, Rak Y, Rightmire GP, Vekua A, Zollikofer CPE. (2013). A complete skull from Dmanisi, Georgia, and the evolutionary biology of early Homo. Science 342, 326-331.
  35. Margvelashvili A, Zollikofer CPE, Lordkipanidze D, Peltomäki T, and Ponce de León MS (2013). Tooth wear and dentoalveolar remodeling are key factors of morphological variation in the Dmanisi mandibles. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 110, 17278–17283
  36. Callegari S, Weissmann JD, Tkachenko N, Petersen WP, Lake G, Ponce de León MS, Zollikofer CPE. (2013). An agent-based model of human dispersals at a global scale. Advs. Complex Syst., 10.1142/S0219525913500239
  37. Zollikofer CPE, and Ponce de León MS. (2013). Pandora’s growing box. Inferring the evolution and development of hominin brains from endocasts. Evol Anthropol. 22, 20-33.
  38. Falk D, Zollikofer CPE, Morimoto N, and Ponce de León MS. (2012). Metopic suture of Taung (Australopithecus africanus) and its implications for hominin brain evolution. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109, 8467-8470.