AfricaNSFThe Research University (TRU)

US-India Cooperative Research: Evolution of the Cetacean Body Plan–Eocene Whales from India: Northeast Ohio Medical University

Johannes Thewissen

[email protected]

0216710<br/>Thewissen <br/><br/>Description: This award supports the US-India Cooperative Research: Evolution of the Cetacean Body Plan-Eocene Whales from India. US PI Hans Thewissen, Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine and Sunil Bajpai, Indian Institute of Technology (IITR), Roorkee, India will study one of the most remarkable evolutionary transformations in the vertebrate fossil record, the transformation of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) from terrestrial quadruped to obligate marine swimmer. They will examine the evolutionary processes and underlying causes, with special reference to the organ systems that underwent the greatest changes in the land to water transition. This project will test hypotheses about the evolutionary processes that determined much of the cetacean body plan. These systems (locomotion, balance, and sound transmission) are documented by fossils and underlie the evolutionary success of the order Cetacea. The PIs will integrate traditional anatomical and functional data with new insights from developmental biology to yield new understanding of the evolutionary process. The investigators will collect and study fossils in India. <br/><br/>Scope: This will be a rare opportunity for the investigators to study the link between paleontology and development. The US and Indian PIs are eminently well qualified; they have complementary expertise and an established collaboration. Bajpai is the leading authority on fossil cetaceans in India and his institution houses its most significant collections. Beyond the scientific community, this study will enhance tools for teaching evolution to students and for explaining scientific processes to the public. The award will further partnerships among researchers including young scientists, collaborative links between the institutions, and advance theoretical interests in both countries. This project is jointly funded by the Indian Department of Science & Technology (DST) under the NSF/DST joint program. <br/><br/>

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