PHARE

Pharyngeal Evolution : illuminating its form and function in early jawed vertebrates

Responsabilité scientifique :

  • Alan Pradel
  • Anthony Herrel

Partenariat :

Financement :

  • DIM Matériaux anciens et patrimoniaux

Descriptif :

Ventilation and feeding are both fundamental to vertebrate life, and the pharynx plays a key part in both. However, understanding the early origins of these processes is difficult due to the delicate and weakly mineralised pharyngeal skeleton often being poorly preserved in the fossil record. Fossils in which it is preserved are exceptionally rare, and potentially immensely valuable to our understanding of jawed vertebrate evolution. In this project we will uncover the form and function of the pharynx in Acanthodes, a very early (~290 Mya) relative of sharks and rays, using computed tomographic methods to image its uniquely well-preserved gill skeleton. Using tomographic imaging of the pharynx in a variety of living jawed vertebrates we will create a library of reference materials with which to reconstruct the life position of the skeleton and muscles in the pharynx of Acanthodes. Using this reconstruction we will investigate the form and function of the pharynx of Acanthodes using biomechanical modelling and shape analysis. This will provide a rare glimpse into the form and function of a pharynx in an early jawed vertebrate, potentially with major consequences for our understanding of jawed vertebrate evolution.

Post-doctorant : Richard Dearden

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