UROS 2017 Project: Tempo and mode of evolutionary change across the transition from Fish to Limbed Vertebrates

By Jessica Gadd


Before recognising that I would be able to partake in research as a first-year student I made contact with my supervisor. I was incredibly interested in a talk he gave in one of my research method lectures, I realised I would love to one-day work in his area of study. This led to us having a meeting where we discussed in breadth the world of palaeontology and how I could best prepare myself for a career in the subject.

After much discussion, we decided to plan a project, which examines and evaluates key skeletal changes in the transition from fish to limbed vertebrates, following this transition to the early stages of land invasion. We were both intrigued by a nebulous question in the paleontological field, why the emergence onto land should have taken place in the first instance, with creatures living in an aquatic medium suddenly facing the highly variable and perilous land habitats.

During this project, I have become confident in exploring models of evolutionary transformation through many different morphometric programmes, with the help of my supervisor I have learnt to use programmes such as ImageJ and MorphoJ, which have allowed me to code fossil data and conduct morphological disparity calculations. I have thoroughly enjoyed gaining knowledge which is not course specific, and expanding my future career opportunities, and have used the UROS experience to gain transferrable skills which I will redeploy into further study.

Overall, I believe the UROS project has been enjoyable and has been advantageous to my future research prospects.


*To view Jessica’s project poster, please click on the thumbnail below