Department: Comparative Biomedical Sciences

Campus: Hawkshead

Research Groups: Musculoskeletal Biology

Research Centres: Structure & Motion Laboratory

Professor Hutchinson is a Professor of Evolutionary Biomechanics. John's research straddles the fields of evolutionary biology and biomechanics, with an emphasis on how very large animals stand and move and how locomotion evolved in different groups of land vertebrates.

Professor Hutchinson is an American biologist who found a new home in the UK as a dual citizen. He gained a BS degree in Zoology at the University of Wisconsin in 1993, then received a PhD in Integrative Biology at the University of California with Kevin Padian in 2001 (view my academic lineage here!), and rounded out his training with a two-year National Science Foundation bioinformatics Post Doc at the Biomechanical Engineering Division of Stanford University with Scott Delp.

John started at the Royal Veterinary College as a Lecturer in Evolutionary Biomechanics in 2003 in the Department of Veterinary Basic Sciences (now Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences), in 2008 became a Reader, and in 2011 became a full Professor.

Prof. Hutchinson is an Associate Editor for Proceedings B of the Royal Society and the new open access journal PeerJ. He is also a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London and of the Society of Biology. From 2012-2013 he had a sabbatical as a Royal Society Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellow at the RVC.

John's team is part of the Structure & Motion Laboratory. How to visit us at the Hawkshead RVC campus outside London

Prof. Hutchinson has worked on extant and extinct animals ranging from birds and crocodiles to elephants and many other mammals as well as extinct dinosaurs and early tetrapods. John uses a combination of theoretical and experimental techniques, from motion analysis or XROMM and force platforms to simple 2D static mechanics or complex 3D fully dynamic computer simulations.

For more information see John's Structure & Motion Laboratory page, especially his Research Interests page. Along with his collaborators, he has secured over £4 million in research funding since 2004; including grants from the BBSRC, NERC, Royal Society, Wellcome Trust, Leverhulme Trust, Royal Society and EU Marie Curie fellowships.

Examples of Prof. Hutchinson's current and past research projects are here:

1. Tyrannosaurus was not a fast runner
2. Why dinosaur locomotion is about more than just bones
3. Are fast-moving elephants really running?
4. How elephants use their limbs to move like 4WD vehicles
5. Do elephants have six toes?
6. Three-dimensional computer modelling shows how Tyrannosaurus rex grew
7. Limb joint mobility in the early tetrapod Ichthyostega reveals how walking evolved
8. Using particle accelerators to show how the tetrapod backbone evolved
9. Biomechanics and pathology of mammalian feet (BBSRC grant w/Renate Weller and colleagues)
10. Towards the chicken of the future- a blog about our research on the biomechanics of broiler chicken locomotion and breathing (BBSRC grant w/Jonathan Codd, Monica Daley and colleagues)
11. New collaborative study of dinosaur track formation (EU Marie Curie Fellowship award news)
12. Evolution of dinosaur body shape and locomotion
13. Evolution of form, function and development of sesamoid bones in vertebrate limbs

For a frequently updated publications list see this page.

Also see John's pages on, Google Scholar.

Prof. Hutchinson is the module leader for the Gateway programme's Evolution module and also teaches in the BVetSci 3rd year course's "Comparative Animal Locomotion" module. His team regularly supervises undergraduate and MSc/MRes student research projects. Potential project students are encouraged to contact him to explore options.

Prof. Hutchinson is passionate about science communication as a vital part of what scientists do for science, for society and for fun.

John regularly participates in science communication events worldwide, both in person and via the internet. His research has been featured in over 500 online/print news stories since 2002, and his team's work has appeared in at least nine major TV documentaries including the BAFTA award-winning original "Inside Nature's Giants" programme. He was the 2012 winner of the British Science Festival's Charles Darwin Award. John also actively communicates science via social networking such as his personal Twitter account.

John runs a science-related personal blog, too: What's In John's Freezer?

He also co-wrote a blog post on "Self-promotion: shame­lessly selfish or shame­fully misunderstood?" Another of his posts, on the recent revival and general popularity of anatomical research, gained wide popularity.


Prof. Hutchinson was a consultant on Theropod Biomechanics at the American Museum of Natural History's "Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries" exhibit, still touring other museums since 2004.

He is also the Chief Paleontology Advisor for the wonderfully interactive "Be the Dinosaur" exhibit, also touring museums in the USA; since 2005: Be the Dinosaur.

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