Supervisors and Institutions
Tetrapod animals (amphibians, mammals, reptiles, birds) have incredible modern and extinct biodiversity. This is reflected by both species numbers and exceptional variation in morphology and ecology; everything from frogs to dinosaurs. All tetrapods share a basic body plan and many of the same structural skeletal components. Evolutionary processes acting on these flexible components drive variation across geological time and the Tree of Life. This project aims to understand and quantify these processes, with an emphasis on evolutionary flexibility, disparity, directionality, and tempo. For the first time, we will quantify the skeletal diversity of all living and extinct tetrapods in a unifying morphological space and phylogenetic framework. We can then answer questions about morphospace saturation, the importance of evolutionary radiations and extinction events, and the roles of potential triggers such as environmental conditions or genomic controls. The project will use a varied toolkit, including comparative phylogenetics, anatomical network analysis, morphometrics, anatomy and digitalization.