Some of the current research being conducted in my lab includes the following:

Reconstructing growth patterns in extinct reptiles

We conduct total counts of growth lines (arrow) in thin-sectioned bones from fossil reptiles (non-avian and avian dinosaurs, crocodilians, and varanid lizards) to assess longevity.

Sampling of animals throughout development and the coupling of age data with size measures allows for the first reconstructions of growth curves for extinct taxa.

The data is then used to make comparisons with living animals. Our results show dinosaurs grew at rates considerably greater than living reptiles, at rates between those of marsupial mammals and the largest eutherians--the whales. Birds appear to have evolved their unprecedented rapid growth rates after their divergence from coelurosaurian dinosaurs.

Unlike dinosaurs, giantism in crocodiles and monitor lizards was achieved using typical reptilian growth rates coupled with the prolongation of somatic maturity.


Understanding crocodilian feeding biomechanics

Biting forces are being measured in all 23 crocodilian species using both captive and wild specimens. Sampling is conducted throughout development. Forces are recorded using precision transducers. Tooth casts are made and standard cranial and body measures taken.

The results are being contrasted with ecological correlates to reveal how the morphological and biomechancial changes that occur during ontogeny enable these animals to occupy multiple trophic niches during life. These data are also being used to model the physical capacities of theropod dinosaurs and extinct crocodilians.