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"The biomechanics behind how a hand became a foot in sauropodomorph dinosaurs"
PhD project title:
The early evolution of Sauropodomorph dinosaurs and the origins of quadrupedality in the largest land animals
This project aims to understand how bipedal forms of basal saurodopomorphs evolved into the largest known quadrupedal land animals (the sauropods). The sauropodomorphs represent the first vertebrate radiation to high browsing lifestyles with their long necks and large bodies to help them digest the plant material they ingested. To understand the transition from bipedal to quadrupedal stance it is important to solve the interrelation ships within the group, which is still under debate. To solve this problem, we have proposed the reconstruction of a phylogeny through a large matrix of characters that comprises most of the sauropodomorph taxa.
Few studies have examined the reorganisation of the musculature needed for a quadrupedal stance, the modification of limb posture and some other physiological and anatomical aspects. Thus this project pretends to analyse the biomechanics behind the transition from a grasping hand towards a weight-bearing unit see in the gigantic sauropods. Finally, this study will also use the information from Ornithischian dinosaurs to understand whether the change in stance and locomotion required similar morphological adaptations (convergence) or not.
I am a Mexican biologist and I did my career at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), where I worked with invertebrate palaeontology (trilobites). Right now, I study at UCL with a scholarship granted by the National Council of Science and Technology in Mexico (CONACYT) to do my PhD on dinosaurs.