Studying the development and evolution of tetrapod limb musculature


Daniel Smith

Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin


Around 400 million years ago limbs evolved and vertebrate animals started leaving water and venturing into land for the first time. Now, birds fly, sea turtles swim and people play tennis using muscles that first evolved in those ancient ancestors and have diversified during the evolution of all their descendants. While much emphasis has been placed on studying the evolution and development of the limb skeleton, less has been done to understand how soft tissues like muscles develop and evolve, from a comparative framework. In this talk we will see what we can learn about the evolutionary history of the muscles of the arms and legs by studying how they form during embryonic development in different species.


Daniel Smith did his undergrad at the University of Chile where he studied biology. There he also did a Masters in Biology, studying the embryology and evolution of the theropod skull and then did a phd at Yale University in the department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and worked on the evolution and development of the amniote musculoskeletal system. Now he started a postdoc at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, to study the development and evolution of amphibian limbs.