Darwin stands tall at the Structure & Motion Laboratory
A celebration of Darwin Day—12 February 2012
Charles Darwin’s 203rd birthday
Evolution, the massive body of facts, methods, ideas and theory for which Charles Darwin built the foundation, is important to scientists in diverse biological fields, including the study of animal motion, behaviour and biomechanics that dominates the research activity of the Structure and Motion Group at the RVC. No other scientific concept unifies the disparate ideas of our research, the diversity of species we study, and the questions that urge us forward, under one comprehensive umbrella of historical explanation like evolution does. Nor is any other such concept more awe-inspiring and beautiful - as Darwin so eloquently wrote at the end of the Origin of Species: “There is grandeur in this view of life.” Thus, along with Isaac Newton and many other giants, we owe much to Darwin.
This year, Professor John Hutchinson and scientific illustrator/PhD student Julia Molnar gathered our lab to celebrate that intellectual debt. We were inspired by the high-resolution image of an amiable old Darwin standing at attention that was provided by Colin Purrington (website) and illustrator Carl Buell (website). So we arranged to have Mr. Darwin visit our lab in cardboard cutout form to illustrate how his (and his scientific descendants') ideas permeate our science. We hope you find the resulting images to be a suitable homage and perhaps amusement, as well as an evocative depiction of the integration of disciplines that is what our research group stands for. Darwin still stands tall, as does evolutionary biology, and so is welcomed in many perhaps unexpected places.
- Hutchinson, J.R., Delmer, C., Miller, C.E., Hildebrandt, T., Pitsillides, A.A., Boyde, A.J. 2011. From flat foot to fat foot: The structure, ontogeny, function and evolution of elephant “sixth toes.” Science 344:1699-1703. (see Elephants get a 'sixth toe' for Christmas... after a 300 year wait)
- G. Byrnes and A. J. Spence. Ecological and biomechanical insights into the evolution of gliding in mammals. Integrative and Comparative Biology (2011) http://dx.doi. org/10.1093/icb/icr069
- Hutchinson, J.R., Bates, K.T., Molnar, J., Allen, V., Makovicky, P.J. 2011. A computational analysis of limb and body dimensions in Tyrannosaurus rex with implications for locomotion, ontogeny, and growth. PLoS One 6(10): e26037. (see 3D Modelling Reveals How Tyrannosaurus rex Grew)
Comparative anatomy and locomotor adaptations
- P. E. Hudson, S. A. Corr, R. C. Payne-Davis, S. N. Clancy, E. Lane, A. M. Wilson (2011) Functional anatomy of the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) hindlimb. Journal of anatomy (Early online edition).
- Paxton, H., Anthony, N.B., Corr, S.A. and Hutchinson, J.R. 2010. The effects of selective breeding on the architectural properties of the pelvic limb in broiler chickens: a comparative study across modern and ancestral populations. Journal of Anatomy 217:153-166. [pdf]
- WILLIAMS, S. B., USHERWOOD, J. R., JESPERS, K., CHANNON, A. J. & WILSON, A. M. (2009) Exploring the mechanical basis for acceleration: pelvic limb locomotor function during accelerations in racing greyhounds (Canis familiaris). J Exp Biol 212, 550-565. PubMed ID 19181903
- PFAU, T, SPENCE, A, STARKE, S, FERRARI, M, WILSON, A. (2009), Modern riding style improves horse racing times. Science. 17, 325, 289. PubMed ID 19608909
Adaptations of neural control for stability
- BLUM, Y.N., BIRN-JEFFERY, A. DALEY, M.A. and SEYFARTH, A. (2011). Does A Crouched Leg Posture Enhance Running Stability and Robustness? Journal of Theoretical Biology. 281, 97-106
- DALEY, M. A. & USHERWOOD, J. R. (2010) Two explanations for the compliant running paradox: reduced work of bouncing viscera and increased stability in uneven terrain. Biol Lett. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2010.0175.
- USHERWOOD, J. R. (2008) Collared doves Streptopelia decaocto display with high, near-maximal muscle powers, but at low energetic cost. J. Avian Biol. 39, 19-23.
- King, A. J., Isaac, N. J. B. & Cowlishaw, G. (2009) Ecological, social, and reproductive factors shape producer-scrounger dynamics in baboons. Behavioral Ecology 20: 1039-1049.
- USHERWOOD, J.R., STAVROU, M., LOWE, J.C., ROSKILLY, K. AND WILSON, A.M. (2011). Flying in a flock comes at a cost in pigeons. Nature 474, 494-497. doi:10.1038/nature10164.
- King, A. J., Cheng, L., Starke, S. D., Myatt, J. P. (2012) Is the true “wisdom of the crowd” to copy successful individuals? Biology Letters Online early.