We are pleased to announce a new series here at Archaeomorph called the ‘Morphometrician of the Month’. Each month we will post a short interview with a morphometrician from varying backgrounds and academic levels to highlight the application of geometric morphometrics in their research.
We are happy to announce Dr. Tim Astrop as our first Morphometrician of the Month and are looking forward to working with him in our future Archaeomorph collaborations.
Name: Dr. Tim Astrop
Institution: The University of Bath
Academic level: Postdoctoral Research Associate
What is your research on? Currently, I am engaged in a project looking at extinction selectivity in ammonites. As a palaeobiologist I’m interested in what we can learn about life on earth from it’s extensive, rich and (in my opinion) undervalued fossil record. Basically, ammonites were around for 350 million years and survived several major mass extinctions, even the Permo-Triassic extinction which saw the demise of an estimated 96% of all marine species. Somehow these tenacious little molluscs survived. Often as single lineages and despite losing much of their morphological disparity to such catastrophic events, they quickly radiated in their aftermath, evolving similar morphologies again and again. We are interested in elucidating which, if any, morphological and functional features certain lineages possessed that would enable them to survive or conversely, set them up for extinction. I currently use 3D rapid prototyping technology alongside 2D geometric morphometric methods to study the iconic shells of the group and subject them to both simulated and experimental water-flow experiments to see how form affected function (in terms of stability/drag etc).
Favourite software? I’m a superfan of Geomorph, the R package by Dean Adams and Em Sherratt. It is amazingly multi-functional and has the capability to capture and analyze 2D and 3D morphometric data in a plethora of ways. More recently I’ve been playing with Momocs, another R package that performs some really funky 2D outline analyses and produces some amazing graphical displays of your data.
Favourite online reference (besides this)? The Geomorph package website: http://geomorphpackage.blogspot.co.uk/ it has loads of info, tutorials and Em Sherratt is amazingly responsive to queries and ideas regarding the package and it’s development.
If you are interested in being our Morphometrician of the Month please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.