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Evolutionary Dissection of the Neck Musculoskeletal System in Dinosaurs

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EDDI (Evolutionary Dissection of the Neck Musculoskeletal System in Dinosaurs)

Reporting period: 2020-12-01 to 2022-11-30

In contrast to the clawed forelimbs of their dinosaurian ancestors, the highly specialized wings of birds are exclusively adapted for flight. To compensate for this functional constraint, the avian neck became the equivalent to an arm. The goal of the EU-funded EDDI project is to find out when and how the highly versatile neck evolved.
The neck has intrigued researchers for centuries because it is highly variable in terms of vertebral number and shape. There are the relatively short and massive neck of crocodiles, the highly mobile and slender neck of swans or the extremeley long and gigantic neck in sauropodomorph dinosaurs.
To put it in a nutshell, the EU-funded project EDDi project looks at three aspects involved in the evolution of the vertebral column in archosaurs (i.e. crocodilians, birds and extinct dinosaurs). Morphometric analyses allow us to quantify the morphology of the bones in living and fossil taxa. Developmental studies provide new insights into the morphogenesis of the vertebral column. And anatomical work in combination with state-of-the-art network approaches enables us reveal the evolutionary modifications of the vertebral column in deep time and to better understand the adaptability of archosaurs.
December 2021
- Start of project. Administration.
- Regular update of project website.
- Training opportunities (Advanced training): „Überzeugt! Erfolgreich verhandeln mit Vorgesetzten und Kolleg*innen“ by the Center for Leadership and People Management at LMU Munich.
- Invited talk at ERC GRAVIBONE research group meeting (GRAVIBONE blog).
- Submission of book chapter.
- Draft of data management plan
January 2021
- Training opportunities (Advanced training): „Konfliktlösung und Mediation! Konflikte konstruktiv meistern. – Teil 1“ by the Center for Leadership and People Management at LMU Munich.
- Conference contribution: Oral presentation at SIBC 2021.
- Training opportunities (Advanced training): „Konfliktlösung und Mediation! Konflikte konstruktiv meistern. – Teil 2“ by the Center for Leadership and People Management at LMU Munich.
- Publication on the evolution of the long neck in the journal Evolution (DOI: 10.1111/evo.14171 Open Access).
- Press release: The long neck of the giraffe: New insights to an icon of evolutionary biology and dissemination on LMU website: Bones reveal the secret of the exceptional long neck in giraffes.
- Update of data management plan.
February 2021
- Data collection (Work package 1)
- Knowledge transfer objective: Paleo-Bioinspiration Workshop organized by the Natural History Museum (MNHN) in Paris.
- Submission of two manuscripts.
- Knowledge transfer objective: Symposium proposal for virtual EAVP conference 2021 (European Association of Vertebrate Palaeontologists).
March 2021
- Knowledge transfer objective (Networking): Finite Element Modeling Mini Lecture Series and Workshop Zurich.
- Knowledge transfer objective (Networking): Symposium on „Macroevolution of form and function“ organized by Prof. John Nyakatura (Humboldt-Universität Berlin)
- Data collection (Work package 1)
- Revision of data management plan.
- End of project (due to professorship at Kiel University). Administration.
Identification of the anatomical and developmental basis for changes in the animals‘ body plan is crucial for a better understanding of evolution. Since bones and muscles are interconnected forming the integrated musculoskeletal system, the EDDI project considers both aspects to infer the patterns of change.
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