Department: Comparative Biomedical Sciences
Research Centres: Structure & Motion Laboratory
Viv studies the form and function of sesamoid bones, using avian and squamate patellae as a model, in the Structure and Motion Laboratory under Prof. John Hutchinson.
Viv earned his BA in Archaeology and Geology in 2004 from the University of Bristol, and stayed there another year to study for an MSc in Palaeobiology, supervised by Prof. Michael Benton, where he did his thesis project on dinosaur biomechanics.
Interest in biomechanics led Viv to study for a PhD, supervised by John Hutchinson at the RVC's Structure and Motion Laboratory, in the functional evolution of the hindlimb in theropod dinosaurs.
Subsequently, Viv accepted a postdoc position at the Friedrich-Schiller University, Jena (Germany), studying the mechanics of sprawling locomotion in lizards and crocodiles. More recently, he as returned to the UK to a postdoc position back at the RVC's Structure and Motion Laboratory, working on the biomechanics of sesamoid bones.
Viv's current research project aims to understand the biomechanics underlying sesamoid bone formation, using the patella of mammals, lizards and birds as a model. Currently the aim is to use a combination of muscle-tendon force simulation and finite element modelling to predict loads and load patterns present in the patella tendon, both with and without a mechanically discrete patella or similar structure, to determine if sesamoid formation can be associated with a particular stress concentration or regime.
4) Allen V, Ellsey R, Jones N, Wright J, Hutchinson JR (2010) Functional specialisation and ontogenetic scaling of limb anatomy in Alligator mississippiensis. Journal of Anatomy 216: 423-445.
3) Allen V, Paxton H, Hutchinson JR (2009) Variation in center of mass estimates for extant sauropsids and its importance in for reconstructing inertial properties of extinct archosaurs. Anatomical Record 292: 1442-1461.
2) Hutchinson JR, Allen V (2009) The evolutionary continuum of limb function from early theropods to birds. Naturwissenschaften 96: 423-448.
1) Pontzer H, Allen V, Hutchinson JR (2009) Biomechanics of running indicates endothermy in bipedal dinosaurs. PLoS One 4: e7783.
New research by Professor John R. Hutchinson and colleagues on Tyrannosaurus rex shows it was bigger and faster-growing than previously thought, and had some of the largest leg muscles of any land animal known.
An RVC-based team of researchers including Vivian Allen and John Hutchinson have revealed how the enlargement of the forelimbs changed the balance system of dinosaurs, causing them to adopt more crouched leg postures as in modern birds; published in Nature. RVC's story here and blog here.
An international group of scientists including Professor John Hutchinson and Dr Vivian Allen has constructed a robot, which is able to recreate how a 300 million-year old animal would have walked. This pioneering project is key to enhancing our understanding of how vertebrates first evolved to walk on land. The findings are a result of a collaboration between teams from the EPFL in Switzerland, Humboldt University of Berlin and the Royal Veterinary College.