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DinoFest 2018 Speaker: Ashley Heers

DinoBite — 3 p.m.

"Bird Wings on Dinosaur shoulders: a Musculoskeletal Model of Archaeopteryx, the First Bird"

Join Dr. Heers and discover the origin of flight. Evolutionary transformations revealed by the fossil record are key to understanding the history of life. However, interpreting fossils can be difficult, especially when there is no existing organism to clearly compare them to. Dr. Heers explores these challenges through the use of a dynamic, 3D bone and muscle model of Archaeopteryx, the iconic “first” bird. 

Ashley Heers is a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University, interested in the development and evolution of locomotion. Using birds and their extinct dinosaur ancestors as a focal group, her research integrates biological, paleontological, and engineering disciplines to explore how developmental and evolutionary transformations in anatomy influence(d) locomotion during the invasion of new environments. Her goal is to elucidate the functional and ecological significance of rudimentary precursors to specialized locomotor structures such as wings—a long-standing challenge yet crucial understanding the vertebrate tree of life. She uses an arsenal of experimental, 3D visualization, and biomechanical modeling tools to achieve these goals.

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