Research

Overview

Broadly I am interested in understanding the changes in the tetrapod vertebral column and its effects on whole-body locomotion. I employ an integrative approach that includes physical modeling, morphometrics, and macroevolutionary statistical techniques to investigate vertebral morphology changes and local kinematic joint behavior. I am focused on the evolution of multipartite and complex vertebral forms and terrestrial locomotion changes through deep geologic time.

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Geometric Morphometrics

 

Temnospondyls are the most diverse group of early terrestrial tetrapods. Working with several collaborators,

I use geometric morphometrics to quantify temnospondyl vertebral diversity to better understand the range of vertebral shapes that existed in early terrestrial tetrapods. Combined with comparative phylogenetic methods we have identified terrestrial ancestry in this group and the vertebral forms associated with terrestrial habitat invasions. 

Early Amphibians Evolved Distinct Vertebrae for Habitat Invasion

Osteological Range of Motion Studiets

The fossilization process renders once dynamic biological features into immobile lithified structures. Combining 3D laser scanning and computer-aided design (CAD), I have recreated potential motion in several different Permian tetrapods.

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3D Printing

 

Virtual modeling has added a wealth of information to paleontology. Using state of the art 3D printers and materials I build physical models to aid our virtual understanding of these ancient taxa. By combining ancient vertebral forms and modern 3D printing capabilities physically re-animate the motion of early tetrapods.

Defossilization: A Review of 3D Printing in Experimental Paleontology