ICVM-10 Symposium on Reptile Skeletal Biology

ICVMInterested in the latest research on reptile development, biomechanics and evolution? Come to our symposium at the International Congress of Vertebrate Morphology in Barcelona next Tuesday (July 9, 2013). If not, be sure to catch some of the other outstanding talks held in the neighboring rooms. 

Symposium 7: Reptile Skeletal Biology: Investigations Into Tissue Morphology, Development, and Evolution

Organizers: Casey Holliday, University of Missouri; Matthew Vickaryous, University of Guelph

Reptiles are one of the most ancient and morphologically diverse radiations of tetrapods.  An important feature underpinning this diversity is the skeleton. While the reptilian skeleton has a long history of appreciation by palaeontologists, morphologists and ecologists, it is now emerging as an important model for many developmental and biomedical biologists.  Furthermore, the adoption of various cutting edge approaches in molecular, imaging, and experimental techniques is leading to major revisions and re-interpretations of several longstanding ideas.  This symposium will focus on exploring some of the most intriguing and fundamental questions in evolutionary developmental biology from a uniquely reptilian perspective.  Our participants will bring forward important advancements in the study of the origin and evolution of body plans, morphogenesis and regeneration, and physiology and functional morphology . The goal of our assembled international panel (including participants from Japan, Germany, UK, France, Canada and the US) is to provide a productive and collaborative forum to share, critique and exchange approaches, techniques and species-specific expertise.  Building on the recent publication of the Anolis genome and recent funding to complete the Alligator genome, reptilian biology is undergoing an unparalleled renaissance and our symposium will highlight the latest research using turtles, lepidosaurs, crocodylians, and their fossil ancestors.  ICVM-10 presents an exceptional opportunity to highlight this next generation of reptilian skeletal biology, and its ever growing potential for the broader study of development, evolution, and functional morphology.

09:30

S-036 SKELETAL REGENERATION FOLLOWING TAIL LOSS IN LIZARDS

Vickaryous, Matt; Coates, Helen; Delorme, Steph University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada

10:00

S-037 SQUAMATE VERTEBRAL HISTOLOGY AND MICROANATOMY -DEVELOPMENT AND EVOLUTION

Houssaye, Alexandra Steinmann Institut für Geologie, Paläontologie und Mineralogie, Universität Bonn, Bonn, Germany

10:30

S-038 COMPARATIVE SKULL MECHANICS OF THE LIZARDS TUPINAMBIS MERIANAE AND VARANUS ORNATUS

Gröning, Flora (1); Jones, Marc (2); Curtis, Neil (1); O’higgins, Paul (3); Evans, Susan (2); Fagan, Michael (1) (1) University of Hull, Hull, United Kingdom; (2) University College London, London, United Kingdom; (3) University of York, York, United Kingdom

11:00

S-039 A COMPARISON OF TURTLE AND CHICKEN ONTOGENY REVEALS THE BASIS FOR DIVERGENT HARD PALATE MORPHOLOGY

Richman, Joy; Abramyan, John; Leung, KelvinLife Sciences Centre, University of British Columbia, Canada

12:00

S-040 HOW DID ENAMEL MATRIX PROTEINS EVOLVE IN REPTILE TEETH AND ARE THEY PRESENT IN OSTEODERMS?

Sire, Jean-Yves (1); Gasse, Barbara (1); Silvent, Jérémie (1); Delgado, Sidney (1); Belheouane, Meriem (1); De Buffrénil, Vivian (2) (1) Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France; (2) Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris, France

12:30

S-041 DEVELOPMENTAL PLAN OF THE AMNIOTE SHOULDER GIRDLE AND ITS EVOLUTIONARY DIVERSITY

Nagashima, Hiroshi (1); Hirasawa, Tatsuya (2); Sugahara, Fumiaki (2); Takechi, Masaki (3); Sato, Noboru (1); Kuratani, Shigeru (2) (1) Niigata University Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Niigata, Japan; (2) RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, Kobe, Japan; (3) Iwate Medical University, Yahaba-cho, Japan

14:30

S-042 MORPHOLOGY AND FUNCTION OF THE REPTILE MANDIBULAR SYMPHYSIS

Holliday, Casey (1); Hieronymus, Tobin (2); Nesbitt, Sterling (3); Vickaryous, Matthew (4) (1) University of Missouri, Columbia, United States; (2) Northeastern Ohio Medical University, Kent, United States; (3) Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, United States; (4) University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada

15:00

S-043 DEVELOPMENT AND EVOLUTION OF MESOPODIALIZATION IN THE ICHTHYOSAURIAN LIMB SKELETON

Maxwell, Erin (1); Scheyer, TorstenM. (1); Fowler, Donald (2) (1) Universität Zürich, Paläontologisches Institut und Museum, Switzerland; (2) McGill University, Department of Biology, Canada

15:30

S-044 FRONTIERS IN THE EVOLUTION AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE REPTILIAN SKULL

Bhullar, Bhart-Anjan (1); Marugan-Lobon, Jesus (2); Racimo, Fernando (3); Bever, Gabe (4); Rowe, Timothy (5); Norell, Mark (6); Abzhanov, Arhat (1) (1) Harvard University, Cambridge, United States; (2) University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain; (3) University of California, Berkeley, United States; (4) New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, Old Westbury, United States; (5) The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, United States; (6) American Museum of Natural History, New York, United States

16:00

S-045 CONSERVATION OF PRIMAXIAL REGIONALIZATION IN THE EVOLUTION OF THE SNAKE BODY FORM INDICATES HOMOPLASY IN HOX GENE FUNCTION

Head, Jason (1); Polly, P.David (2) (1) University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, United States; (2) Indiana University, Bloomington, United States

17:00

S-046 IN VIVO CRANIAL BONE STRAINS DURING FEEDING IN THE LIZARDS TUPINAMBIS AND UROMASTYX

Porro, Laura (1); Ross, Callum (2); Herrel, Anthony (3); Evans, Susan (4); Fagan, Michael (5); O’Higgins, Paul (6) (1) University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom; (2) University of Chicago, Chicago, United States; (3) CNRS/Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France; (4) University College London, London, United Kingdom; (5) University of Hull, Hull, United Kingdom; (6) University of York, York, United Kingdom

 17:30

S-047 ARCHOSAUROMORPH BONE HISTOLOGY REVEALS EARLY EVOLUTION OF ELEVATED GROWTH AND METABOLIC RATES

Werning, Sarah (1); Irmis, Randall (2); Nesbitt, Sterling (3); Smith, Nathan (4); Turner, Alan (5); Padian, Kevin (1) (1) University of California, Berkeley,CA, United States; (2) Natural History Museum of Utah & University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, United States; (3) The Field Museum, Chicago, IL, United States; (4) Howard University, Washington, DC, United States; (5) Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, United States

It’s a Veggie-raptor, Lex! Veggi-raptor!

A discussion by Henry Tsai

Most dinosaur fans would agree that theropods are among the best characterized of dinosaurs. From agile speedsters like Velociraptor to lumbering powerhouses like Tyrannosaurus, these bipedal beasts appear to the public as ideal killing machines, with jaws full of sharp teeth and the legwork to keep up with their prey.

However, recent studies of maniraptorans, the theropod group that included both dromaeosaurs like Velociraptor and modern birds, have revealed a variety of odd theropods that seem to have abandoned the predatory way of life. Therizinosaurs, a group of pot-bellied, long-necked theropods, possessed leaf-shaped teeth and slightly curved claws. Since none of these features appear useful for predation, popular hypotheses suggest ground sloth-like herbivory for these animals.

Oviraptors add to the puzzle with sharp, recurved claws at the end of powerful forelimbs and robustly built, yet toothless, beaks. This mishmash of seeming carnivorous and herbivorous traits has led to hypotheses of oviraptor diets ranging from leaves, fruits, shellfish, nuts, and even the eggs of other dinosaurs.

Finally, troodonts, the closest relatives of the obviously carnivorous dromaeosaurs, appear to have had teeth more suitable for dicing plants than for ripping meat. These lines of evidence suggest herbivory either evolved multiple times independently; or that herbivory was primitive to the entire Maniraptora, with the carnivorous dromaeosaurs as the odd-‘saurs out. Future studies on bite mechanics and tooth wear will certainly be necessary for uncovering more about the behavior and ecology of these mysterious plant-eating “raptors.”

Figure. Feeding strategy of various maniraptorans. A) The herbivorous therizinosaur Nothronychus. (picture credit: Victor Leshyk) B) The oviraptor Gigantoraptor, whose diet is still under dispute. (picture credit: Nobu Tamura) C) The carnivorous dromaeosaur Deinonychus, shown feeding on a hapless Zephyrosaurus. (picture credit: Emily Willoughby)

Transactions of the Royal Sounds of SVP

Yes, the seats squeaked upon sitting on them at this year’s Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting. During talks, most people sought to avoid the chirping by gently sliding laterally onto the cushion. But at the banquet, every applause was followed by waves of seat barks. Stay classy SVP!

All in all, the meeting was well executed, at a great location. Well done Host and Program Committees, and all the participants that made it possible.

Inside Alligators-anatomy and public outreach

This past February 12, the Holliday Lab participated in a fairly substantial day of activities. First, strike that…First, to prepare for the 12th, Henry Tsai and I beat a blizzard home by 15min (really!-a drive of legend) with a truck full of gators from Louisiana the previous week -the truck  o’ gators was snowed in in my driveway for 3 days. THEN, on the 12th, Darwin’s birthday, I gave a talk for Mizzou’s Saturday Morning Science program for the general public of Columbia-I think it was the largest crowd I’ve spoken to (Talk title: Inside Alligators: functional anatomy and evolution).  That afternoon, my lab and I hosted  students from 4 different regional high schools (some from as far as St. Louis) as well as a handful of Veterinary School students as part of the Howard Hughes Maps in Medicine Program, a scientific outreach program for high school students, their teachers, and select undergrads.

Few things beat holding a fossil (or gator viscera) in your hand, pointing out interesting things about it, and then handing it off to some interested stranger standing next to you. Whichever side of the transaction you might be on, few can argue that its not an exhilarating experience. I’ve done this at FLMNH with horse, sloth and Smilodon bits, Disney’s Animal Kingdom with Sue the Trex parts, as a grad student, and now as faculty–it never gets old. On the other hand, holding up a little vial of some possibly visible DNA, is something I do not find appealing. So, I’m happy to say that by the end of Saturday’s activities, dozens of people, of all ages, were able to touch, hold, and study some fossil specimens we have on loan, which for various reasons, will likely never be on display at a museum–they’ll likely be locked away in a cabinet. Many of these people may not even ever make it to museums. They also got to explore vertebrate anatomy in a way few get to.

Some of this is self-serving, professional development; I’m identifying avenues for broader impacts for my research that NSF finds appealing either as portions of a standard submission, or the more elaborate Career award. So I’m looking to bring my flavor of paleontology, evolution, and anatomy/physiology to various groups. Many of the activities were geared toward curricular guidelines the schools operate under. This is not to say I didn’t enjoy every moment of it.

We organized the afternoon workshop into 4 different stations followed by a final wrap up and integration period.  Each station had a worksheet to guide the participants through the exercises which included inferring behavior, drawing, measuring skulls, and wading through abdominal anatomy. Although the students originally split into 4 groups, by the end of the day, everyone had flocked to the dissection stations and many protested leaving.

Station 1: Skull anatomy: Objectives-to identify major features of the skull in humans,  ID  them with other vertebrates, and discuss functional differences

Station 2: Dental anatomy: Objectives- Compare and contrast features of dentition and infer diet and chewing behavior

Station 3: Estimating Size: Objectives-Measure portions of crocodilian skulls and using simple equations, estimate their head length

Station 4: Anatomy: Objectives-dissect and identify major organs and other structures in several specimens of Alligator mississippiensis. We also had help from 5 veterinary students interested in exotic medicine. It was their first gator dissection as well.

I’m going to use this post to share part of the day’s activities; it was quite a bit of work, but having just received a CD of photographs from the day, they reminded me of how rewarding the entire experience was-we will do it again. The photos speak for themselves. Thanks to the Mizzou Saturday Morning Science program, Terese Dishaw for photography, Bill Folk and Doris Shoemaker for recruiting the students and organizing the HHMI MAPS program, and Henry Tsai, Becci Skiljan, and Cortaiga Gant for spending their Saturday (and several days prior) helping organize the workshop.


My Day

When she was 1 or 2, my daughter would get a slip of paper from preschool called “My Day”. The teacher would document what kind of day she had, if she ate well, went to the potty etc. I wanted to share my own My Day (don’t worry about the potty or anything) because as a graduate student, you never realize how great you have it, how much time you actually have to spend working towards your own shit, however insurmountable it may seem. Now, in an academic job, there are lots, er most, of days that time just doesn’t exist. I don’t teach as much as my peers in non-med school positions, and I’ve been insulated from committee work so far too, but geez. It gets sucked away by a variety of issues, some are potentially relevant to productivity and fun, many are totally distracting from what could have been productivity, others are just inane.

Resources for faculty are many regarding time management skills and I read a few good blogs on life in academia, which is useful; most of this advice has two themes: unplug your email and close your door, and then put aside specific time to write or work on the fun stuff.  I tend to fail at those things; i don’t like a closed door when I’m in, unless I’m on private phone call (but my voice carries through doors regardless), I virtually always have email on, and I’ve tried to make certain times of the day for fun/real work, but that always gets chiseled away. Some have to-do lists–I make these sometimes. Some people actually keep journals (good god). To my best recollection, this is how today went; It was a “typical” day:

My Day: 745: dress and drive the kid to school; kid slept in a bit; later than I wanted to be; didn’t get enough coffee

820: arrive at work, cursing b/c I had to drive to the top floor of the garage since my 1st floor faculty red tag is still being withheld after 1.5yrs because apparently my salary precludes me from having a “faculty” tag.–this issue is currently being fixed, and not by means of a raise. (Yay for state government freezes and budget problems)

830: plug in, respond to and brainstorm a talk title and blurb  for an on campus talk in Feb. “Inside Alligators”. Start organizing logistics as we’ll be having a group of students from St. Louis coming to help dissect after the talk. yay! Briefly scan a histology/muscle methods paper.

850: Surprise of the day #1: ghost from book chapter past (like 2001) emerges from the email ether (wtf, I  forgot/had given up about this lost manuscript). Now, this chapter for a certain 2nd volume of Complete “taxon” was on Myology. One can guess how much has changed in the world of head and non-head muscle anatomy since 2001…let’s say, uh,  lots. They want edits “as soon as humanly possible” (of course). Still not sure what to do about this. No time to deal with properly  in apparently ridiculous time frame. maybe I’ll withdrawal, but then complain about whatever does end up getting published.

9: think about above some more. Maybe its my responsibility to write a good chapter on myology (muscle anatomy). Book chapters are not looked favorably upon for tenure compared to articles. ug

910-940: work on edits for article (for the Paleo Project Challenge), almost done, find best photos of last taxon to be included in paper, hopefully. Out to coauthor tomorrow I swear. Sorry Nick G, not -that- paper.

940: prepare for anatomy lab

10-1215: anatomy lab: feet! so boring. but the block is almost over, students are lost given their upcoming test is on not only lower limb, but also Thorax, Abdomen and Pelvis. They’re freaking. But its ok.

1215:  change clothes, read online garbage, get stabbed by CapriSun straw (to be given to daughter upon school pickup) which goes under my finger nail reaching for lunch, eat,. OW. talk w/ colleagues about lab/class

1245: meet with faculty about logistics for 4th year med anatomy class: too many students, not enough cadaver space, all over the holidays, which bumps into the January 4th yr block. Face-palm w/ shrug.

115: have a great, short discussion with student about traction epiphyses and RW Haines papers. (Yay!!! good times; shh, don’t tell the student). I <3 epiphyses and sesamoids.

130: Surprise #2 deal with receipts from SVP, they need more paperwork asap regarding my emergency flight home with a broken knee. can’t get reimbursed until done. Ug

145: sigh, forage for coffee.

2: check in with undergrad, doing ok on finishing up 3D model.

210: start working on last of figures for above paper Yay! progress.

220: Surprise of the day 3: email: Block 1 anatomy remediation exam, they need questions from me asap (next 2 days). grrr. on my nerves, i need smaller nerves

3: questions submitted,  go across the hall and gripe to colleague: (fun, heartwarming, relaxing) Also likely disrupts and distracts them (now we’re even heheheh)

310: email from collaborator: cool questions, good news on diff project; respond; ponder a fossa on a dino face some have said houses a particular soft tissue; plot the rebuttal that will never happen (yay)

320: lost all focus. Check facebook, friend has awesome video of Fail (linked), perfect it was worth the 7min. Pic below. minute 4:06!

340: back to figures. omg its like 34o already. dropping backgrounds, tracing, etc. some tunes

410: phone: reminded to pick up kid. loose focus, get water, look at a blog, write a comment but then delete it. watching the clock to make sure I leave before shite traffic starts (it takes a long time to drive down from the top floor at 5pm).

420: back to figures, cool, progress

445: hustle out to leave.

530-911: family stuff. write this

after 9: let’s finalize this MS to send out to coauthor; maybe we’ll make it a late-nighter, already had coffee. stop fussing with this post!

Tomorrow: work on grant proposal (s), finally. hopefully, without too many distractions. oh right, i need to do these things too: dissect, fix lizard muscles. Send other muscles out for histo. photograph spindles in muscles (but at least I found some on Monday). Be a good coauthor and work on that other paper. Write lab practical questions for anatomy, due soon. crack the whip on some student projects. Write letters for more specimens. Animal Care Protocol… and on and on.

But likely only a fraction of that will get done, let alone what surprises await. Oh right! All-Med school Annual Faculty meeting!!! yay :/

I still have an awesome job, have great neighbors, work on kickass shit,and usually have a good time doing it. But sometimes… man. Anyone who has tips to share on juggling days like these, share away.