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Professor Emily Rayfield
Professor Emily Rayfield
Professor of Palaeobiology
Area of research
How skeletal mechanics influences morphological evolution and the relationship between form and function in hard tissues
My research focuses on how skeletal mechanics influences morphological evolution and the relationship between form and function in hard tissues - primarily, but not exclusively, the vertebrate skull.
My research uses the engineering technique finite element analysis (FEA) to deduce skeletal stress and strain during function. In particular I am interested in how FEA can inform on functional behaviour in individual taxa and elucidate functional ecology and morphological changes across evolutionary transitions such as the origin of birds and mammals. Such studies are constrained by my research on FE-validation in birds, testing how accurately our FE-models approach reality.
My group takes advantage of our facilities in tomography reconstruction, FEA software, histological thin-section preparation and strain gauge analysis.
I am responsible for the M-Level courses EASC M0024 Biomechanics and Functional Morphology, and M0036 Vertebrate Palaeobiology and Evolution, available to all single and joint honours students and to students on the MSc Palaeobiology course.
I am unit organiser for the Evolution of Earth and Life subunit of the Level 1 Geology 1 unit EASC 10001 and also teach on the first year Arran field trip during the Easter vacation.
I supervise a number of MSc Palaeobiology research projects each year, and teach occasional lectures on other taught courses.
- skeletal mechanics
- finite element analysis
School of Earth Sciences
Earth Sciences staff
- Porro, LB, Rayfield, EJ & Clack, JA 2015, Descriptive anatomy and three-dimensional reconstruction of the skull of the early tetrapod Acanthostega gunnari Jarvik, 1952. PLoS ONE, vol 10.
- Neenan, JM, Ruta, M, Clack, JA & Rayfield, EJ 2014, Feeding biomechanics in Acanthostega and across the fish - tetrapod transition. Proceedings of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences, vol 281.
- Martínez-Pérez, C, Rayfield, EJ, Purnell, MA & Donoghue, PCJ 2014, Finite element, occlusal, microwear and microstructural analyses indicate that conodont microstructure is adapted to dental function. Palaeontology, vol 57., pp. 1059-1066
- Gill, PG, Purnell, MA, Crumpton, N, Brown, KR, Gostling, NJ, Stampanoni, M & Rayfield, EJ 2014, Dietary specializations and diversity in feeding ecology of the earliest stem mammals. Nature, vol 512., pp. 303-305
- Foffa, D, Cuff, AR, Sassoon, J, Rayfield, EJ, Mavrogordato, MN & Benton, MJ 2014, Functional anatomy and feeding biomechanics of a giant Upper Jurassic pliosaur (Reptilia: Sauropterygia) from Weymouth Bay, Dorset, UK. Journal of Anatomy.
- Cunningham, JA, Rahman, IA, Lautenschlager, S, Rayfield, EJ & Donoghue, PCJ 2014, A virtual world of paleontology. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, vol 29., pp. 347-357
- Button, DJ, Rayfield, EJ, Paul & Barrett, M 2014, Cranial biomechanics underpins high sauropod diversity in resource-poor environments. Proceedings of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences, vol 281.
- Lautenschlager, S, Witmer, LM, Altangerel, P, Zanno, LE & Rayfield, EJ 2014, Cranial anatomy of Erlikosaurus andrewsi (Dinosauria, Therizinosauria): New insights based on digital reconstruction. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, vol 34., pp. 1263-1291
- Panagiotopoulou, O, Wilshin, SD, Rayfield, EJ, Shefelbine, SJ & Hutchinson, JR 2014, What makes an accurate and reliable subject-specific finite element model? A case study of an elephant femur (Retraction of vol 9, pg 351, 2012). Journal of the Royal Society Interface, vol 11.
- Murdock, DJE, Rayfield, EJ & Donoghue, PCJ 2014, Functional adaptation underpinned the evolutionary assembly of the earliest vertebrate skeleton. Evolution and Development, vol 16., pp. 354-61
Professor Rayfield currently teaches 6 courses:
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