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Johan Lindgren

My research has two principal objectives (or sub-projects):
(1) to reconstruct and restore body shape and caudal fluke form and function in mosasauroids (an extinct group of marine squamates) using e.g., vertebral centrum morphometrics, process orientation, and three-dimensional computer models. This project will bring us considerably closer to understanding large-scale evolutionary patterns among marine vertebrates, and the results may serve as a robust basis for a workable hypothesis on the development of a piscine body and semilunate tail in a wide variety of secondarily aquatic tetrapods, including mosasaurs, ichthyosaurs (another group of Mesozoic marine reptiles), thalattosuchians (ancient marine crocodiles), and whales;
(2) to examine squamate long bone microstructure in an attempt to quantify mosasaurian growth rates and strategies, longevity, and to address how some mosasaurs attained giant proportions. This pioneer research is based upon the presence of growth lines (somewhat similar to the annual rings in trees) and the amount of vascular canals in the cortex (outer layers) of long bones. Moreover, initial sampling during my tenure as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, indicates that skeletal histology may provide us with a novel method enabling direct comparisons between fossil and extant squamates, thus offering a new approach to resolve the vehemently debated origin of snakes.

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