ESS Talk: Great Transformations in Reptile Craniofacial Evolution

Casey Holliday, Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, University of Missouri
Life Science Center 572

This talk is part of the Evolution and Social Science Speaker series. See link below for more details.

Great Transformations in Reptile Craniofacial Evolution

What makes a crocodilian? What makes a bird? These lineages of animals and others underwent major changes in the shapes and functions of their heads during their hundreds of millions of years of evolution. However, piecing these stories together can be challenging since we only have few snapshots of life on Earth via the fossil record. Today we’ll discuss how we use imaging, anatomy and biomechanics to understand patterns of craniofacial evolution in flat-headed crocodilians, how birds evolved flexible heads from stiff-skulled dinosaurs, and how mammals today still have vestiges of their ‘primitive reptilian’ anatomy in their ears due to gradual changes in jaw and ear anatomy. All together, integrated, evolutionary biomechanical studies can reveal patterns and processes of vertebrate evolution over large expanses of time.