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Prof Shahed Nalla

Associate Professor
Name: Shahed Nalla
Location: 2304K, John Orr Building Doornfontein Campus
Human Anatomy and Physiology Staff  Staff Members

Contact Details:
Tel: +27 11 559 6258


About Prof Shahed Nalla

Prof Nalla commenced his academic career as a Human Anatomy and Physiology lecturer at the University of Johannesburg (then Technikon Witwatersrand) in January 1994, was promoted to Senior Lecturer in September 2011, and then to Associate Professor in October 2017.

Appointed as Vice-Dean (Teaching and Learning) (reporting to the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences) in July 2012 to June 2015; Re-appointed as Vice-Dean (Teaching and Learning) in July 2015 to June 2018. He was Acting Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg, from 1 April 2018 until 28 February 2019; the Vice-Dean (Research, Innovation, and Internationalisation) (reporting to the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences) in March 2019 to June 2020.

Shahed is also a Research Associate with the Department of Anatomy and Human Embryology of the Faculty of Medicine University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain, and was appointed as an Honorary Research Associate/Fellow of the Evolutionary Studies Institute (ESI) of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa (1 November 2014 to 30 June 2018).

Professor Nalla’s research niche is the evolution of the thoracic region and associated elements in hominins. He is currently working on a number of projects in collaboration with internationally renowned scientists and paleoanthropologists, led by Prof Lee R Berger of the Centre for the Exploration of the Deep Human Journey, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He is also involved in Clinical Anatomy Research as a member of an International Research Group led by Prof. Juan Sanchis-Gimeno from the Department of Anatomy and Human Embryology, Faculty of Medicine University of Valencia, Spain and Professor Joaquín Maurandi Lomba, Department of Prehistory, Archaeology, Ancient History, Medieval History and Historiographic Sciences and Techniques, University of Murcia, Spain.

Research Focus Areas:

Palaeoanthropology focusing on thoracic morphology and vertebral column evolution

Clinical anatomy related to cervical vertebral variation in modern and archaic populations

Scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) in Anatomy education.


Book Chapters:

  1. Ward CV, Rosenman B, Latimer B and Nalla S (2020) Thoracolumbar vertebrae and ribs, in Ward CV, Richmond BG and Zipfel B (Eds.), Hominin Postcranial Remains from Sterkfontein, South Africa, 1936-1995, Oxford University Press, ISBN-10: 0197507662, ISBN-13: 978-0197507667
  2. Bastir M, Torres-Tamayo N, Palancar C.A, Lois Zlolniski S, García-Martínez D, Riesco-López A, Vidal D, Blanco-Pérez E, Barash A, Nalla S, Martelli S, Sanchis-Gimeno JA and Schlager S (2019) Geometric Morphometric Studies in the Human Spine, in: Been E, Gómez- Olivencia A and Kramer PA (Eds.), Spinal Evolution Morphology, Function, and Pathology of the Spine in Hominoid Evolution Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019, pp. 361 – 386. DOI:   eBook ISBN978-3-030-19349-2

Journal Articles (Accredited)

  1. Williams, SA. Prang TC, Meyer MR, Nalley TK, Van Der Merwe R, Yelverton C, García-Martínez D, Russo GA, Ostrofsky KR, Eyre J, Grabowski M, Nalla S, Bastir M, Schmid P, Churchill SE, Berger LR. (2021) New fossils of Australopithecus sediba reveal a nearly complete lower back eLife 2021;10:e70447. DOI:
  2. Faus-Valero B, Llidó-Torrent S, Miquel-Feutch M, Quiles-Guiñau L, Perez-Bermejo M, Nalla S and Sanchis-Gimeno JA (2021) Gonial angle measures in Medieval and contemporary skeletons. European Journal of Anatomy 25 (1), 41-48 IMPACT FACTOR: 0.49
  3. García-Martínez D, Martelli S, Torres-Tamayo N, Jiménez-Arenas JM, González Martín A, Campo M, Cambra-Moo O, Lois-Zlolniski S, Nalla S, Sanchís Gimeno JA and Bastir M (2020) Sexual dimorphism in the vertebral wedging of the human lumbar vertebrae and its importance as a comparative framework for understanding the wedging pattern of Neanderthals Quaternary International 566, 224-232 IMPACT FACTOR: 2.003. DOI:
  4. Torres-Tamayo N, García-Martínez D, Schlager D, Sanchis-Gimeno JA, Barash A, Nalla S, Ogihara N, Oishi M, Martelli S and Bastir M (2020) Three dimensional geometric morphometrics of thorax-pelvis covariation and its potential for predicting the thorax morphology: A case study on Kebara 2 Neandertal Journal of Human Evolution 147, 102854 IMPACT FACTOR: 3.534. DOI:
  5. Torres-Tamayo N, Martelli S, García-Martínez D, Schlager S, Sanchis-Gimeno JA, Mata-Escolano F, Nalla S, Ogihara N, Oishi M and Bastir M (2020) Assessing thoraco-pelvic covariation in Homo sapiens and Pan troglodytes: A 3D geometric morphometric approach. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 173(3), 514-534 IMPACT FACTOR: 2.414. DOI:
  6. Bastir M, García-Martínez D , Torres-Tamayo N, Palancar CA, Beyer B, Barash A, Villa C, Sanchis-Gimeno JA, Riesco-López A, Nalla S, Torres-Sánchez I, García-Río F, Been E, Gómez-Olivencia A, Haeusler M, Williams SA and Spoor F (2020) Rib cage anatomy in Homo erectus suggests a recent evolutionary origin of modern human body shape Nature Ecology & Evolution 4: 1178-1187 IMPACT FACTOR: 12.543 DOI:
  7. Lois Zlolniski S, Sanchis Gimeno JA, Blanco-Pérez E, Mata F, Barash A, Nalla S, Torres-Tamayo N, García Martínez D, Martelli S and Bastir M (2019) 3D geometric morphometric analysis of variation in the human lumbar spine American Journal of Physical Anthropology 170 (3): 361–372. IMPACT FACTOR: 2.414. DOI:
  8. Sanchis-Gimeno JA, Quiles-Guiñau L, Llido-Torrent S, Aparicio L, Nalla S and Miquel-Feutch M (2019) Possible clinical implications of the geographic differences in the prevalence of the double transverse foramen World Neurosurgery 126: e570-572 IMPACT FACTOR : 1.829 (ISI and Scopus List). DOI:
  9. Sanchis-Gimeno JA, Llido S and Nalla S (2019) The Retrotransverse foramen of the atlas is not a modern anatomic variation. World Neurosurgery 123:174-176. IMPACT FACTOR : 1.829 (ISI and Scopus List). DOI:
  10. Williams SA, Meyer MR, Nalla S, García-Martínez D, Nalley TK, Eyre J, Prang TC, Bastir M, Schmid P, Churchill SE and Berger LR (2018) “Special Issue: Australopithecus sediba — The Vertebrae, Ribs, and Sternum of Australopithecus sediba” PaleoAnthropology 2018:156-233. DOI: (10.4207/PA.2018.ART113)
  11. Torres-Tamayo N, García-Martínez D, Nalla S, Barash A, Williams SA, Blanco-Pérez E, Mata-Escolano F, Sanchis-Gimeno JA and Bastir M (2018) The torso integration hypothesis revisited in Homo sapiens: contributions to the understanding of hominin body shape evolution. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 167: 777 – 790 IMPACT FACTOR: 2.414. DOI:
  12. Torres-Tamayo N, García-Martínez D, Nalla S, Barash A, Blanco-Pérez E, Mata-Escolano F, Sanchis-Gimeno JA and Bastir M (2018) The Human Torso: Variation in Relation to Sexual Dimorphism, Ancestry and Allometry Folia Primatologica 89: 165–215. DOI:
  13. Sanchis-Gimeno JA, Llido S, Perez-Bermejo M and Nalla S (2018) Prevalence of anatomic variations of the atlas vertebra The Spine Journal 18 (11) 2102 -2111 IMPACT FACTOR: 3.024. DOI:
  14. Sanchis-Gimeno JA, Llido S, Guede D, Nalla S, Martinez-Soriano F. Blanco-Perez E and Caeiro JR (2018) Atlases with Arcuate Foramen present cortical bone thickening that may contribute to a lower fracture risk World Neurosurgery 117: e162 – e166 IMPACT FACTOR : 1.829 ISI and Scopus List). DOI:
  15. Sanchis-Gimeno JA, Blanco-Pérez E, Llido S, Perez-Bermejo M, Nalla S and Mata-Escolano F (2018) Can the transverse foramen/vertebral artery ratio of double transverse foramen subjects be a risk for vertebrobasilar transient ischemic attacks? Journal of Anatomy 233: 341—346 IMPACT FACTOR: 2.638 (ISI List). DOI:
  16. Elliott M, Quam R, Nalla S, De Ruiter D, Hawks J and Berger LR (2018) Description and analysis of three Homo naledi incudes from the Dinaledi Chamber, Rising Star Cave (South Africa) Journal of Human Evolution 122: 146 -155 IMPACT FACTOR: 3.767 (ISI, Scopus and IBSS List). DOI:
  17. Sanchis-Gimeno JA, Llido S and Nalla S(2018) Double retrotransverse foramen of the Atlas (C1) World Neurosurgery 114: e869-e872 IMPACT FACTOR : 1.829 (ISI and Scopus List). DOI:
  18. García-Martínez D, Nalla S, Cunha E, Ferreira MT, Guichón R, D´Angelo MD and Bastir M (2018) Eco-geographic adaptations in the human ribcage throughout a 3D geometric morphometrics approach. American Journal of Physical Anthropology Volume166, Issue 2: 323-336 IMPACT FACTOR: 2.414. DOI:
  19. Ntuli S, Kiter A and Nalla S (2018) Anatomical variation of the Dorsalis pedis artery in a South African population- A Cadaveric Study The Foot 35: 16 – 27 IMPACT FACTOR: 1.5 (Scopus 09582592). DOI:
  20. Sanchis-Gimeno JA, Llido S, Quiles-Guinau L, Miquel-Feutch M, Rios L, Murillo-Llorente M, Perez-Bermejo M and Nalla S (2018) The Decreasing Prevalence Of The Arcuate Foramen. World Neurosurgery 110: 521-525. IMPACT FACTOR : 1.829 (ISI and Scopus List) DOI:
  21. Nalla S, Blanco-Perez E, Mata-Escolano F, Llido S and Juan A Sanchis-Gimeno (2018) Unexpected Persistent Dentocentral Synchondrosis of C2 World Neurosurgery 111: 26-27. IMPACT FACTOR : 1.829 (ISI and Scopus List). DOI:
  22. Sanchis-Gimeno JA, Blanco-Perez E, Perez-Bermejo M, Llido-Torrent S and Nalla S (2018) Retrotransverse foramen of the atlas: prevalence and bony variations. European Spine Journal 27:1272–1277 IMPACT FACTOR 2.458 (ISI and Scopus List. DOI:
  23. Williams SA, García-Martínez D, Meyer MR, Nalla S, Schmid P, Hawks J, Churchill SE, Berger LR and Bastir M (2017) The vertebrae and ribs of Homo naledi Journal of Human Evolution Vol 104 pp 136 -154 IMPACT FACTOR: 3.534 (ISI, Scopus and IBSS List 0047-2484). DOI:
  24. Maddocks M, Nalla S and Zipfel B (2017) The Relationship Between the Distal Metatarsal Articular Angle and Intersesamoidal Crista: an osteological study. The Foot Volume 30 pp. 5 -12 IMPACT FACTOR: 1.5 (Scopus list). DOI:
  25. Tawane G, García-Martínez D, Eyre J, Bastir M, Berger LR, Schmid P, Nalla S and Williams SA (2016) A hominin first rib discovered at the Sterkfontein Caves, South Africa, South African Journal of Science Vol 112, No 5/6 IMPACT FACTOR: 1.191 (Scopus List). DOI:
  26. Berger LR, Hawks J, De Ruiter DJ, Churchill SE, Schmid P, Delezene LK, Kivell TL, Garvin HM, Williams SA, De Silva JM, Skinner MM, Musiba CM, Cameron N, Holliday TW, Harcourt-Smith W, Ackermann RR, Bastir M, Bogin B, Bolter D, Brophy J, Cofran ZD, Congdon KA, Deane AS, Dembo M, Drapeau M, Elliott MC, Feuerriegel EM, Garcia-Martinez D, Green DJ, Gurtov A, Irish JD, Kruger A, Laird MF, Marchi D, Meyer MR, Nalla S, Negash EW, Orr CM, Radovcic D, Schroeder L, Scott JE, Throckmorton Z, Tocheri MW, Van Sickle C, Walker CS, Wei P and Zipfel B (2015) Homo naledi, a new species of the genus Homo from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa eLife 2015;4:e09560. IMPACT FACTOR: 7.080 (Web of Science – 2015) (ISI List) DOI:
  27. Schmid P, Churchill SE, Nalla S, Weissen E, Carlson KJ, De Ruiter DJ and Berger LR (2013) Mosaic Morphology in the Thorax of Australopithecus sediba. Science Vol 340 (Issue 6129 12 April 2013) pp.109 – 236 IMPACT FACTOR: 41.845 (Web of Science – 2015) (ISI List). DOI:
  28. Hartstone-Rose A, Kuhn BF, Nalla S, Werdelin L and Berger LR (2013) A new species of fox from the Australopithecus sediba type locality, Malapa, South Africa. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa Volume 68, Issue 1, 2013 IMPACT FACTOR: 1.630 (DoHET List). DOI:
  29. Nalla S and Asvat R (1995) The Incidence of the Coracoclavicular joint in a South African sample Journal of Anatomy 186:645-649 IMPACT FACTOR: 2.638 (ISI List 0021-8782). DOI: