My research focuses on the evolution of growth, metabolism, and life history in vertebrates, using the evolution of bone tissue as a proxy. The appearance of bone tissue reflects many aspects of an animal’s biology, including how fast it grew, its metabolism, biomechanics, and ecology, as well as its age and evolutionary relationships. I develop both quantitative and descriptive methods to describe these relationships and to distinguish among them. Because bone tissue is preserved even after death and fossilization, I use these methods to reconstruct the physiology and life history of both living and extinct species.
By examining how bone tissue changes through the fossil record, I seek to understand the biological and nonbiological influences that drive the evolution of growth, metabolism, bone, and life history in deep time. This provides a much richer context for understanding the growth and life history of living animals than can be obtained by examining their living relatives alone.
I welcome motivated and enthusiastic high school, undergraduate, and DMU students to do research in my lab. Potential projects include reconstructing fossil anatomy from CT scan data, preparing modern or fossil bone tissue for staining and microscopy, or analyzing growth or metabolism in fossil species using digital micrographs. Please email me for more information.
Download CV @sarahwerning on Twitter