Evolution and development of vertebrate structures

This research focuses on the evolution and development of vertebrate teeth and the postcranial skeleton. It 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
  • Pufferfish dentition: 
    Origins of the vertebrate dentition: conserved morphological development and genetic regulation of patterning in the highly modified pufferfish 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
  • Evolution of the neck:
    The separation of the head from the shoulder girdle. A study of cell migration and development of muscles and bones in fish and basal tetrapods.
Staff involved in these projects:
Collaborator in the Life Sciences Department:

Dr Ralf Britz