Biomechanics and Evolution of the Archosaur Head

In collaboration with Casey Holliday (University of Missouri), we are studying the evolution of cranial kinesis across the non-avian theropod dinosaur to bird transition.

Cranial kinesis (movement among the bones of the skull, excepting the jaw) required a significant reorganization of skeletal tissues and was likely a major evolutionary factor in the highly diverse feeding apparatus and ultimately the diversification of modern birds. The goal of this project is to understand the biomechanical environment of the feeding system.

Computational modelling of cranial function has allowed us to estimate all the forces acting on the jaws and skull. From a CT-scan, we generate a 3D model, convert to a finite element model and then “map” muscle attachments.

We use these muscle attachments combined with knowledge of muscle contractile properties to generate a 3D picture of the biomechanical environment of the head.