Department: Comparative Biomedical Sciences

Campus: Hawkshead

Research Centres: Structure & Motion Laboratory

I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Structure and Motion Laboratory working with Dr. Chris Richards on an ERC-funded project looking at the evolution of locomotion in amphibians that will incorporate data from in vivo and in vitro experiments, medical imaging, computer modelling and paleo-robotics.

Laura attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, graduating with degrees in Biological Sciences and Earth and Environmental Sciences in 2004. She completed her PhD in Palaeobiology (funded by a Gates Cambridge Scholarship) in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge in 2009, investigating anatomy and cranial biomechanics in heterodontosaurid dinosaurs. Laura was a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Organismal Biology at the University of Chicago, using in vivo experimental methods and computer modeling to understand skull mechanics in crocodilians, lizards and primates. From 2012 - 2014, Laura was a Marie Curie Research Fellow based in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol and the Zoology Department at the University of Cambridge, exploring changes in morphology and function in the early tetrapod lower jaw across the water-land transition.

Frogs possess a unique skeleton thought to reflect adaptation to jumping. Yet living frogs are capable of running, walking, swimming, climbing and burrowing as well as jumping. How can such multi-functionality be acheived without compromising individual functions? What was the ancestral locomotor style for frogs and what drove the evolution of their unique body plan? Using a combination of medical imaging, computer modelling techniques (musculoskeletal, inverse kinematic, and finite element analysies) and experimental methods (high-speed video, XROMM, EMG, muscle physiology), my project investigates the correlation between musculoskeletal anatomy and function of the hind limbs in living AND fossil frogs to understand why these adaptations arose and how frogs acheived multi-functionality.

In addition to research being carried out at the RVC, I continue to work on fossil reptiles, early tetrapods and fish with collaborators across the UK, Europe, the USA and South America.

Porro, L.B., Richards, C.T. In press. Digital dissection of the model organism Xenopus laevis using contrast-enhanced computed tomography. Journal of Anatomy.

Clack, J.A., Porro, L.B., Bennett, C.E. In pressCrassigyrinus-like jaw from the Tournasian (Early Mississippian) of Scotland. Earth and Environmental Science Transations of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Porro, L.B., Collings, A.J., Eberhard, E.A., Chadwick, K.P., Richards, C.T. 2017Inverse dynamic modelling of jumping in the red-legged running frog Kassina maculataJournal of Experimental Biology220: 1882-1893.

Richards, C.T., Porro, L.B., Collings, A.J. 2017Kinematic crontrol of extreme jump angles in the red leg running frog (Kassina maculata). Journal of Experimental Biology. 220: 1894-1904. 

Larkin, N.R., Porro, L.B. 2016. Three legs good, four legs better: making a quagga whole again with 3D printing. Collection Forum (Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections). 30: 73-84.

Porro, L.B., Witmer, L.M., Barrett, P.M. 2015Digital preparation and osteology of the skull of Lesothosaurus diagnosticus (Ornithischia: Dinosauria). PeerJ. 3:e1494

Porro, L.B., Rayfield, E.J., Clack, J.A. 2015. Computed tomography, anatomical description and three-dimensional reconstruction of the lower jaw of Eusthenopteron foordi Whiteaves, 1881 from the Upper Devonian of Canada. Palaeontology. 58: 1031-1047.

Porro, L.B., Rayfield, E.J., Clack, J.A. 2015. Descriptive anatomy and three-dimensional reconstruction of the skull of the early tetrapod Acanthostega gunnari Jarvik, 1952. PLOS ONE. 10 (3): doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0118882.

Larkin, N.R., West, J., Porro, L.B. 2015Cleaning a dolphin skull and mandible to enable assessment of unusual mid-nineteenth century scrimshaw. Journal of Natural Sciences Collection. 2: 29-34.

Porro, L.B., Ross, C.F., Iriarte-Diaz, J., O’Reilly, J., Evans, S.E., Fagan, M.J. 2014. In vivo cranial bone strain and bite force in the agamid lizard Uromastyx geyri. Journal of Experimental Biology. 217: 1983-1992.

Porro, L.B., Metzger, K.A., Iriarte-Diaz, J., Ross, C.F. 2013. In vivo bone strain and finite element modeling of the mandible of Alligator mississippiensis. Journal of Anatomy223: 195-227.

Butler, R.J., Porro, L.B., Galton, P.M., Chiappe, L.M. 2012. Anatomy and cranial functional morphology of the small-bodied dinosaur Fruitadens haagorum from the Upper Jurassic of the USA. PLoS ONE. 7: doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031556

Porro, L.B., Butler, R.J., Barrett, P.M., Moore-Fay, S., Abel, R.L. 2011. New heterodontosaurid specimens from the Lower Jurassic of southern Africa and the early ornithischian dinosaur radiation. Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh101: 351-366.

Porro, L.B., Ross, C.F., Holliday, C.M., Anapol, F., Ontiveros, L.C., Ontiveros, L.T. 2011. Free-body analysis, beam mechanics, and finite-element modeling of the mandible of Alligator mississippiensisJournal of Morphology. 272: 910-937.

Ross, C.F., Berthaume, M.A., Dechow, P.C., Iriarte-Diaz, J., Porro, L.B., Richmond, B.G., Spencer, M., Strait, D. 2011. In vivo bone strain and finite-element modeling of the craniofacial haft in catarrhine primates. Journal of Anatomy218: 112-141.

Norman, D.B., Crompton, A.W., Butler, R.J., Porro, L.B., Charig, A.J. 2011. The Lower Jurassic ornithischian dinosaur Heterodontosaurus tucki Crompton and Charig, 1962: cranial anatomy, functional morphology, taxonomy and relationships. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society163: 182-276.

Reed, D.A., Porro, L.B., Iriarte-Diaz, J., Lemberg, J., Holliday, C., Anapol, F., Ross., C.F. 2011. The impact of bone and suture material properties on mandibular function in Alligator mississippiensis: testing theoretical phenotypes with finite element analysis. Journal of Anatomy. 218: 59-74.

Butler, R.J., Galton, P.M., Porro, L.B., Chiappe, L.M., Erickson, G.M., Henderson, D.M. 2010. Lower limits of ornithischian dinosaur body size inferred from a new Upper Jurassic heterodontosaurid from North America.Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences277: 375-381.

Maidment, S.C.R. and Porro, L.B. 2010. The palpebral of ornithischian dinosaurs: homology and function. Lethaia. 43: 95-111.

Butler, R.J., Porro, L.B., Norman, D.B. 2008. A juvenile skull of the primitive ornithischian dinosaur Heterodontosaurus tucki from the ‘Stormberg’ of southern Africa. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology28: 702-711.

Butler, R.J., Porro, L.B., Heckert, A.B. 2006. A supposed heterodontosaurid tooth from the Rhaetian of Switzerland and a reassessment of the European Late Triassic record of Ornithischia (Dinosauria). Neues Jahrbuch fur Geologie und Paläontologie, Monatshefte. 2006: 613-633.

For full list, see personal website (

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