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UCL Division of Biosciences

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Centre for Integrative Anatomy

We use diverse and cutting-edge approaches to study anatomy in order to understand structure and function, embryonic development, phylogenetic relationships, ecology, and evolution. The skeletal anatomy of fossil organisms provides us with clues to the appearance and ecology, which in turn tells us how the modern biosphere came to be and how living animals will respond to ongoing environmental changes. Medical and forensic researchers use the study of human anatomy to understand how we live and grow, as well as aging, disease, and death.

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Research Themes

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Form

The study of organismal form is the core of evolutionary and comparative anatomy. How variable are populations, species, and clades? How does form change through embryonic development and later growth? What can anatomy tell us about how extinct organisms looked and behaved? We use traditional and modern techniques to describe and quantify the structure of the vertebrate body. 

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Function

Biomechanics is the study of structure and function. Using experimental and digital modelling techniques, we study how diverse morphologies result in differences in performance, behaviour, and, ultimately, fitness. This is key to understanding adaptation and evolution of anatomy. Biomechanics also interfaces with biomedical research into kinesiology, sports medicine, and prosthetics. 

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Diversification

The overarching goal of the CIA is to understand the diversification of vertebrate anatomy in deep time. This includes investigating the link between ecology and morphology, using modern species to understand fossil taxa, studying major transitions (e.g., the first terrestrial vertebrates, the origin of flight), and human origins.

 


Researchers

Susan Evans

Evolution of key morphological features in reptiles and amphibians

Ryan Felice

Archosaur evolution and development, geometric morphometrics

Laura Porro

Anatomy and biomechanics of living and fossil animals

Sandra Martelli

The postnatal ontogeny of human and hominoid anatomy

Wendy Birch

Forensic anatomy and osteology & the preservation of animal remains

 


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