Evolution and development of vertebrate structures
This research focuses on the evolution and development of vertebrate teeth and the postcranial skeleton.
The work combines information from palaeontological, developmental and molecular data.
Current projects exploring the evolution of dentitions
- Early jawed vertebrate (placoderm) dentitions
Teeth and jaws: evolutionary emergence of a model organogenic system and the adaptive radiation of gnathostomes.
- Chondrichthyan dentition
Origins of the vertebrate dentition: conserved morphological development and genetic regulation of patterning in the chondrichthyan (sharks, rays) dentition.
Current projects investigating skeletal evolution
- Evolution of bone
No bones about it: an enigmatic Devonian fossil reveals a new skeletal framework - a potential role of loss of gene regulation.
- Evolution of axial skeleton
Fleshing out the fossil record: using organically preserved soft tissues to explore the evolution of unique vertebrate characters.
- Evolution of appendicular skeleton
Evolution of paired fins and the lateral somitic frontier.
- Welten M, Smith MM, Underwood C, Johanson Z (2015) Evolutionary origins and development of saw-teeth on the sawfish and sawshark rostrum (Elasmobranchii; Chondrichthyes). Royal Society Open Science, 2: 150189.
- Smith MM, Riley A, Fraser GJ, Underwood C, Welten M, Kriwet J, Pfaff C, Johanson Z (2015) Early development of rostrum saw-teeth in a fossil ray tests classical theories of the evolution of vertebrate dentitions. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 282: 20151628.
- Johanson Z, Boisvert C, Maksimenko A, Currie P, Trinajstic K (2015) Development of the Synarcual in the Elephant Sharks (Holocephali; Chondrichthyes): Implications for Vertebral Formation and Fusion. PLoS ONE, 10(9): 3640 e0135138.