Nicole Barber

Nicole Barber

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Nicole Barber

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Start Year

2019 (Cohort 6)

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PhD Project
PhD Title

Phylogeny, form and function of primate tarsal bones

Research Theme

Evolution and Adaptation

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The morphology of the foot is of particular interest to primate evolution, as it plays a major role in determining locomotor mode, a key ecological adaptation. Despite this, the determinants of tarsal bone morphology are still not well understood, and studies to date have been limited either to one tarsal element or a narrow taxonomic group.

This project will use existing and newly collected CT and 3D surface scans to construct 3D surface models of the tarsal skeleton for a representative sample of primates. These will be used to explore the variation in tarsal bone morphology across the clade, characterising the influences of phylogeny, function and size on different elements and groups. Patterns of variation in overall morphology and articular surfaces will be explored. Morphological data will also be used alongside phylogenetic data to explore the rate of tarsal bone evolution across the primate clade, characterising variation in evolutionary rate in different elements and lineages.

The study will be the first to conduct an integrated analysis of all tarsal bone elements. It will identify patterns of morphological variation across both the tarsal skeleton and the primate clade, characterising how evolvability varies across different elements and lineages.

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