Matthew McCurry

PhD Student, Palaeontology

Matthew McCurry
Matthew McCurry
Source: Matthew McCurry

MV supervisor: Dr Erich Fitzgerald

Background

Matt is driven by an interest in better understanding the relationship between the morphology of animals and their ecology. He worked as a research assistant with the Computational Biomechanics Research Group for a number of years before completing his BSc (Honours) at The University of Newcastle in 2011. His Honours work examined the relationships between varanid (goanna) cranial morphology, biomechanical performance and feeding ecology. After completing his Honours research, Matt worked as a research assistant at the Amphibian Research Laboratory at University of Newcastle.

Matt began his PhD at Monash University in 2012. His Monash University co-supervisors are Colin McHenry (Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology) and Alistair Evans (School of Biological Sciences). His PhD work examines the evolution of morphological diversity in aquatic tetrapods using a combination of morphometric and biomechanical techniques applied to a range of aquatic reptile and mammal skulls in the collection of Museum Victoria.

Current Activities

Matthew is currently examining morphological convergence in aquatic tetrapods.

Transitions from terrestrial to aquatic habitats have occurred independently many times through the evolutionary history of tetrapods. The similarity in the physical structure that exists between these species is one of the most outstanding examples of convergent evolution. Morphological characteristics such as body form, tooth morphology and head morphology are generally similar despite quite different terrestrial ancestral morphologies. Although it is one of the most noted examples of morphological convergence there is little quantitative data on exactly how these groups are similar or why these species have undergone such changes throughout evolutionary history. Matt is integrating a variety of modern techniques borrowed from biology, palaeontology and engineering to better understand these processes.

Publications

Walmsley CW, Smits PD, Quayle MR, McCurry MR, Richards HS, Oldfield CS, Wroe S, Clausen PD, McHenry CR. 2013. Why the long face? The mechanics of mandibular symphysis proportions in crocodiles. PLoS ONE 8(1): e53873. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053873

Parr WCH, Wroe S, Chamoli U, Richards HS, McCurry MR, Clausen PD, McHenry CR. 2012. Toward integration of geometric morphometrics and computational biomechanics: New methods for 3D virtual reconstruction and quantitative analysis of Finite Element Models. Journal of Theoretical Biology 301: 1-14.

Last updated 12 March 2013