Skeletal Biology: From the Smallest Building Blocks to the Largest Animals on Earth
Bones and skeletons have long fascinated me: their diverse forms are living sculptures. Skeletons are often the only tissue in which one can study both how form changes over the course of an individual's life--embryology and development--as well as how form changes over the course of evolutionary history.
Current & Past Projects
Telescoping of Cetacean Skulls & the Evolution of Craniofacial Sutures
Whales, dolphins, and porpoises (cetaceans) have some of the strangest skulls among mammals, in large part due to phenomena known as "telescoping"--extensive bone overlap and shortening of the distances between non-adjacent bones. Telescoping is an important example of the extremes of mammalian evolution and the role of craniofacial sutures.
To learn more about telescoping and cetacean skull evo-devo, click here.
Building a Blowhole: Nasal Passage Reorientation in Prenatal Cetaceans
Early in embryonic development, cetacean (e.g., whale & dolphin) embryos resemble the embryos of other mammals, but by the time they are born, their noses have shifted position and orientation to become a blowhole. How does the nose end up in this new location? While all cetaceans have blowholes, members of of the two living cetacean sub-groups, toothed whales (odontocetes) and baleen whales (mysticetes) undergo different developmental transformations to turn their noses into blowholes.
To learn more, click here.
Mind the Gap: Craniofacial Suture Structure, Development, and Function
This is a collaboration with the Marine Mammal Stranding Program and VABLAB at UNC-Wilmington and the Hilton Lab in the Department of Orthopaedics at Duke University.
For our 2021 SICB abstract: https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icab001
And Other Mammals