Dr. Jesus Marugan Lobon’s research interests are centered on archosaur reptiles and their morphological evolution. He received his bachelor’s degree in Biology from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) in Spain. His doctoral thesis was supervised by A. D. Buscalioni (Unidad de Paleontología, UAM) and it focused on the evolution of the avian skull using both Theoretical Morphology and Geometric Morphometric tools. It also dealt with macroevolutionary topics such as variation (disparity) and with integration and modularity. He joined our team in the Dinosaur Institute as a Fulbright (MCINN) postdoctoral fellow to study aspects of the dinosaur-bird transition focusing our data collection on Chinese fossils. Lobon is also part of the research team at Las Hoyas and is involved in a research project with the Theoretical Biology Lab in Instituto Cavanilles, Valencia in which they are trying to model cranial evolution in tetrapods using diverse quantitative proxies.
As director of the Museo Municipal "Carmen Funes,” Dr. Rodolfo A. Coria’s research focuses primarily on Argentine dinosaurs, especially those from Patagonia, a region that ranks among the best dinosaur graveyards. During the last 20 years, his field and laboratory investigations have resulted in the description of a large dinosaur diversity of both carnivorous and herbivorous dinosaur species and an assessment of their genealogical relationships. Some of these dinosaurs include the colossal sauropod Argentinosaurus huinculensis and the megapredator Giganotosaurus carolinii. Others include the carnivorous Aucasaurus garridoi, Ilokelesia aguadagrandensis, Quilmesaurus currie, and Mapusaurus roseae. The overall goal of his research is to understand how the dinosaur faunas of Patagonia evolved through time. Dr. Coria also co-authored the publication of the new Titanosauria in 1993.
Dr. Michael Habib is a biomechanist who reconstructs the performance and motion of fossil animals. Most of his discoveries relate to the evolution of animal flight, and he is particularly fond of working on pterosaurs - flying reptiles of the Mesozoic, which are regarded as the largest flying animals of all time. Dr. Habib asks research questions related to the anatomical limits of flight, the relationships of anatomy to behavior, and the role of locomotion in ecology and evolution. His research program is diverse and includes animals ranging from fish to birds. Furthermore, he is an Assistant Professor in the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, where he teaches human gross anatomy. Dr. Habib is often seen with his students studying pterosaurs in the Mesozoic Collection. Off the job, he enjoys a good cup of tea and practicing traditional Kung Fu.
Dr. Martin Sander is a world renowned Vertebrate Paleontologist who trained in Germany, the U.S., and Switzerland. It is the Triassic ichthyosaurs of Nevada that links him to the Dinosaur Institute and the NHM. These fossils provide exciting insights into ecosystem recovery after the end-Permian mass extinction. What makes fossil vertebrates so fascinating for him is that bone preserves its microstructure in addition to its shape. Studying fossil bone thin sections under a polarizing microscope, Dr. Sander reconstructs the life history of a dinosaur, finding out amazing things such as evidence that there were island dwarf dinosaurs, similar to the island dwarf mammoths of the Channel Islands of California. This led him to asking how those long-necked giants, the sauropod dinosaurs, could evolve to their enormous size. By working with a team of scientist with wide-ranging backgrounds, he realizes that a special combination of primitive characters and evolutionary innovations made sauropod gigantism possible.
Dr. Lars Schmitz is an evolutionary and functional morphologist interested in explaining the dynamics of macroevolution. His main study system is the vertebrate eye and through careful analyses, he tries to find out what role the ecology and behavior of an organism has in influencing the evolution of its eye shape. Previous work in this area has shown that the form of bony ossicles in the eye and the size of the eye socket itself are related to the daily activity rhythm of an animal, allowing for inferences of night-activity in dinosaurs and other Mesozoic archosaurs. Dinosaurs aside, his favorite groups of fossil vertebrates are marine reptiles, in particular ichthyosaurs whose big eyes actually inspired my work on vision. Furthermore, Dr. Schmitz teaches courses on introductory biology, vertebrate anatomy, and sensory evolution as an assistant professor at the W.M. Keck Science Department of Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges.