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Trond Sigurdsen


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Summary Statement of Research Interests

STATEMENT OF RESEARCH My main research interests include the phylogenetics and evolutionary origins of major vertebrate taxa, as well as the functional anatomy of these animals. I have worked extensively on the evolution and biology of amphibians, birds, and mammals. I combine tried and true methods, such as specimen drawings and anatomical descriptions, with state of the art technology and software. The latter include parsimony-based or Bayesian phylogenetic analyses, as well as high resolution x-ray computed tomography (CT). I am currently working with Dr. Luis Chiappe at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Together with our coauthors in China, we recently published a paper detailing the anatomy of a fossil Chinese Enantiornithine bird (Zhang, O’Connor, Sigurdsen, Chiappe, 2014). Furthermore, I have collected a database of wing bone measurements. This contains primarily modern birds, but also some fossil forms. The goal is to compare the skeletal wing anatomy and morphometrics in modern birds to that of fossils, thus providing new information on the flight capabilities of birds that lived more than 65 million years ago. My interest in various amniote groups has been noted in the scientific community. I was recently invited to submit a chapter on the origin of amniotes to the Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Biology (Elsevier), together with Prof. Robert Carroll. I am very interested in the relationships of mammals to the non-mammalian synapsids. My focus on the early evolution of mammals goes back to their “reptile-like” basal synapsid ancestors (non-mammalian Synapsida, or “mammal-like reptiles”) of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic. In this regard I have been interested in possible anatomical correlates of endothermic metabolism, a feature that is of interest in the study of both birds and mammals. I am studying fossil forms using CT-scanning to reveal osseous structures of the skull and braincase. This will expand upon work on therocephalian therapsids published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology (Sigurdsen et al., 2012). References Sigurdsen T, Carroll R (in press). The early ancestry of amniotes: the existing evidence and the missing pieces of the puzzle. Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Biology. Elsevier. Reference: Roshmi Joy. Sigurdsen T, Huttenlocker A, Modesto S, Rowe T, Damiani R. 2012. Reassessment of the morphology and paleobiology of the therocephalian Tetracynodon darti (Therapsida) based on CT-scanning, and the phylogenetic relationships of Baurioidea. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 32 (5):1113-1134. Zhang Y, O’Connor J, Di L, Qingjin M, Sigurdsen T, Chiappe LM. 2014. New information on the anatomy of the Chinese Early Cretaceous Bohaiornithidae (Aves : Enantiornithes) from a subadult specimen of Zhouornis hani. PeerJ 407: 1-19. DOI 10.7717/peerj.407
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