M.Sc. Adrian Scheidt
I got my M.Sc. at the Humboldt University of Berlin in Organismic Biology and Evolution. In my master’s thesis, I investigated the locomotion of Tamanduas using x-ray motion analysis and created a 3-D skeletal model of the pectoral girdle and forelimbs (XROMM). Generally, I am interested in “old-school” evolutionary biology: How is a species’ morphology adapted to a certain environment and how do these traits compare to other taxa?
My PhD project focuses on the early stages in the evolution of cursorial mammals (e.g., artiodactyls and perissodactyls). 55 mya members of these taxa were smaller than their living relatives. Therefore, I am using an integrated approach, combining collection based morphometrics of fossils and extant “microcursorials”, with in vivo experiments of extant species. The goals are to quantify and describe biomechanical traits of (micro-)cursoriality and to trace the evolutionary history of cursorial clades.
Unravelling Early Stages in the Evolution of Cursorial Mammals
It has been established that cursorial traits in large herbivorous mammals, while enabling fast locomotion, are primarily an adaptation for energy-efficient long-distance locomotion. But 75-55 million years ago, the first members of ungulate groups were small and lived in what was likely open canopy forests.
This project is investigating these early stages in the evolution of cursoriality in mammals. We use an integrated approach, combining collection based morphometrics of fossils and extant “microcursorials”, in situ Range of motion- analyses, and in vivo experiments of extant species. The biomechanical and morpho-functional properties of extant microcursorials are key in understanding the early stages of cursorial evolution.
Therefore, these properties will be quantified and used to infer adaptational pressures acting on the ancestors of modern-day ungulates.