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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
- 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.
- Anderson, PSL, Renaud, S & Rayfield, EJ 2014, Adaptive plasticity in the mouse mandible. BMC Evolutionary Biology, vol 14.
- 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
- Caromel, AGM, Schmidt, DN, Phillips, JC & Rayfield, EJ 2014, Hydrodynamic constraints on the evolution and ecology of planktic foraminifera. Marine Micropaleontology, vol 106., pp. 69-78
- Lautenschlager, S, Bright, JA & Rayfield, EJ 2014, Digital dissection – using contrast-enhanced computed tomography scanning to elucidate hard- and soft-tissue anatomy in the Common Buzzard Buteo buteo. Journal of Anatomy, vol 224., pp. 412-431
- 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.
- 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.
- Martinez-Perez, C, Rayfield, EJ, A., PM & Donoghue, PCJ 2014, Finite element, occlusal, microwear and microstructural analyses indicate that conodont microstructure is adapted to dental function. Palaeontology.
- Purnell, MA, Crumpton, N, Gill, PG, Jones, G & Rayfield, EJ 2013, Within-guild dietary discrimination from 3-D textural analysis of tooth microwear in insectivorous mammals.. Journal of Zoology, vol 291., pp. 249-257
- Lautenschlager, S, Witmer, LM, Altangerel, P & Rayfield, EJ 2013, Edentulism, beaks and biomechanical innovations in the early evolution of theropod dinosaurs.. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
Professor Rayfield currently teaches 6 courses:
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