Hot Student Papers

Developmental and evolutionary novelty in the serrated teeth of theropod dinosaurs

10 Aug 2015 - 9:17am
a serrated tooth from a theropod dinosaur

What is in a bite? For theropod dinosaurs the answer may be the secret to their success, according to recent research by recent PhD graduate Dr. Kirstin Brink and PhD candidate Aaron LeBlanc (Reisz and Evans Labs). With dino fanfare and an abundance of media coverage they just published “Developmental and evolutionary novelty in the serrated teeth of theropod dinosaurs” in Scientific Reports. By examining the internal structure of serrated teeth from several distantly related animals, they show that theropods have a completely unique arrangement of dental tissues within their teeth not seen in other animals. These structures develop to lengthen the serration from within the tooth, and strengthen the tooth, preventing the serrations from wearing away quickly while eating.

The importance of plant genotype and contemporary evolution for terrestrial ecosystem processes

4 Aug 2015 - 1:56pm
Common evening primrose

Metabolic rate, muscle mass, personality, skin tone, hair curliness … everything about us and every living organism is a product of our genes and the environment in which we live. But how far is the reach of the gene? Can genetic differences influence the abundance and diversity of parasites in your gut? Can it shape entire ecosystems? And can evolution cause changes in the environment in which we live? A recent paper by PhD student Connor Fitzpatrick (Johnson Lab) gives the answer - “yes”. Connor published “The importance of plant genotype and contemporary evolution for terrestrial ecosystem processes” in Ecology.

Experimental horticultural projects in the Canadian low and high arctic in the early 1980s: What did we learn?

22 Jul 2015 - 8:43am
sun-heated greenhouses for growing plants in Canada's northern communities

This week the usual HSP feature turns the clock back to look at how our UTM Biology Emeriti and graduate alumni were looking forward and continue to have an impact on science of today. Emeritus Professors Joseph Svoboda and Ray Cummins, along with former graduate students B. Bergsma, J. McCurdy, and M.J. Romer, just published “Experimental horticultural projects in the Canadian low and high arctic in the early 1980s: What did we learn?” in the Proceedings of the 8th Circumpolar Agricultural Conference on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in the Circumpolar North? Whether it is on TV, in the pages of your favourite newspaper, or in the covers of an ecological journal, it is hard not to find gloom and doom about climate change.

Pelagic neonatal fossils support viviparity and precocial life history of Cretaceous Mosasaurs

6 Jul 2015 - 9:30am
Mosasaurs, giant swimming marine lizards

If you’ve seen Jurassic World then you know that the scariest ancient dinosaurs were those giant swimming marine lizards – Mosasaurs. But what about their babies? Were they as cute as a puppy? New work by Aaron Leblanc (Reisz Lab) and his Yale and Smithsonian collaborators published in Paleontology sheds light on the youngest of Mososaurs. Mosasaurs swam in all of the world's oceans during the Late Cretaceous Period. They had big paddles for steering and powerful tails for propulsion. Aaron and his colleagues described the remains of two skulls of tiny Mosasaurs from Kansas that were collected over a century ago and were misidentified as bird fossils. They reinterpret them as baby Mosasaurs, based on dental and jaw anatomy.

Dispersal depends on body condition and predation risk in the semi-aquatic insect, Notonecta undulata

15 Jun 2015 - 8:03am
backswimmer, Notonecta undulata

If you are feel’in good but scared – FLY! This seems to be how backswimmers live their lives in our local ponds according to a new paper by PhD student Celina Baines (McCauley Lab). Celina published “Dispersal depends on body condition and predation risk in the semi-aquatic insect, Notonecta undulata” in Ecology and Evolution. Previous studies demonstrated that dispersal is influenced by body condition and predation risk, while few studies have separated the combined effects of these factors. Celina manipulated body condition and the presence of fish and measured the consequences for dispersal in the field.

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