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Evolution of the Animal Face: from Principles to Mechanisms

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Marcia Kishida.

Understanding the origins of natural diversity remains as one of the chief challenges to modern biology. My research group aims to reveal molecular mechanisms underlying evolutionary processes that generate morphological variation in nature. More specifically, we wish to show how particular changes in embryonic development can produce morphological alterations for natural selection to act upon. The principal focus for our studies is on the animal face and head. Cranial diversity in archosaurs is a particularly inviting and challenging research topic as their heads and faces show many dramatic, unique and adaptive features which reflect their natural history. Much of this facial diversity depends on the shapes and sizes of the bones and cartilages that make up the cranial skeleton. I will describe how our investigations of craniofacial skeletal development are helping us to uncover mechanisms that generated cranial diversity during evolution of birds, reptiles and mammals, some of the most charismatic clades on our planet.

This talk is part of the Evolution and Development Seminar Series series.

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