Matthew Bonnan

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Matthew Bonnan[1] is an American paleobiologist and an associate professor of biological sciences at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. His research combines traditional descriptive and anatomical study with computer-aided morphometric analysis and modeling of vertebrate skeletons. See also Dr. Bonnan's blog on his research and teaching at The Evolving Paleontologist.

Research and teaching[edit]

The focus of his research is limb functional morphology in dinosaurs, as well as the broader locomotor and evolutionary implications of size. He is particularly interested in the evolution and locomotor adaptations of the giant, terrestrial sauropod dinosaurs. The long-necked herbivores attained sizes no other dinosaurian or mammalian group has ever approached on land; part of sauropod success as giants may be tied to limb morphology and specializations.

Dr. Bonnan teaches a variety of anatomy-based and evolutionary biology courses at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey covering diverse topics such as vertebrate embryology, comparative vertebrate anatomy, vertebrate evolution, systematics, dinosaurs, and general zoology.

Education[edit]

  • Ph.D., Northern Illinois University, Dept. Biological Sciences, 2001
  • B.S., Geological Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1995
  • A.S., Earth Sciences, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, 1993

Dinosaurs: Why so big?[edit]

Dr. Bonnan's overarching research focus is the evolution of gigantism in dinosaurs. To this end:

  • he has examined the evolution and shape of the manus (hand) and pes (foot) of sauropods and its relationship to locomotion and weight support[2][3]
  • he has studied the relationship between the ability to pronate the manus (place the hand palm-side down) in archosaurs and its expressions in sauropods and their ancestors[4][5]
  • he has used geometric morphometrics (geometry-based shape analysis techniques) to evaluate and statistically analyze patterns in sauropod long bone scaling[6][7]
  • he has studied the link between bipedalism, sexual dimorphism, and limb proportions in archosaurs using the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) as a model[8][9]
  • he has searched for and described a new transitional dinosaur (Aardonyx celestae) from the Early Jurassic of South Africa that sheds much-needed light on the beginnings of sauropod gigantism [10]
  • he and colleagues have shown how to infer the missing joint shape in dinosaur long bones based on shape analysis of Alligator mississippiensis and two species of birds[11]

Dr. Bonnan in the News[edit]

In the spring of 2008, Dr. Bonnan was involved with a new Morrison Formation dinosaur quarry in Hanksville, Utah. His expertise in the concentration of Sauropod dinosaurs were sought after by and aided the excavation efforts of the Burpee Museum of Natural History.[12] Dr. Bonnan continues to assist the Burpee Museum in excavating the Hanksville-Burpee site.

He is also a co-discoverer of the almost-sauropod Aardonyx celestae [13] which has garnered international media attention[14] and should serve to illuminate the early beginnings of sauropod gigantism.

He is a co-discoverer of an early "prosauropod" Arcusaurus pereirabdalorum [15]

Understanding science & evolution[edit]

Dr. Bonnan runs a webpage on science and evolution where he discusses how the so-called "battle" between science and religion is false, and provides interested students and laypersons with information and podcasts on the scope and limits of science[16]

Dr. Bonnan now has a short educational video on the basic concept of biological evolution on YouTube.[17]

The Evolving Paleontologist Blog[edit]

Dr. Bonnan runs and updates the Evolving Paleontologist Blog [1] which blogs and posts on all topics related to vertebrate paleontology, functional morphology, evolutionary biology, and whatever else strikes his scientific interests.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Matthew F. Bonnan, The Evolving Paleontologist, http://matthewbonnan.wordpress.com/
  2. ^ Bonnan, M.F. 2003. The evolution of manus shape in sauropod dinosaurs: implications for functional morphology, forelimb orientation, and sauropod phylogeny. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 23(3): 595-613.
  3. ^ Bonnan, M.F. 2005. Pes anatomy in sauropod dinosaurs: implications for functional morphology, evolution, and phylogeny; pp. 346-380 in K. Carpenter and V. Tidwell (eds.), Thunder-Lizards: The Sauropodomorph Dinosaurs. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
  4. ^ Bonnan, M.F. and A.M. Yates. 2007. A new description of the forelimb of the basal sauropodomorph Melanorosaurus: implications for the evolution of pronation, manus shape and quadrupedalism in sauropod dinosaurs; pp. 157-168 in Barrett, P. M. and D.J. Batten (eds.), Evolution and palaeobiology of early sauropodomorph dinosaurs. Special Papers in Palaeontology, 77.
  5. ^ Bonnan, M.F. and P. Senter. 2007. Were the basal sauropodomorph dinosaurs Plateosaurus and Massospondylus habitual quadrupeds?; pp. 139-155 in Barrett, P. M. and D.J. Batten (eds.), Evolution and palaeobiology of early sauropodomorph dinosaurs. Special Papers in Palaeontology, 77.
  6. ^ Bonnan, M.F. 2004. Morphometric analysis of humerus and femur shape in Morrison sauropods: implications for functional morphology and paleobiology. Paleobiology, 30(3): 444-470.
  7. ^ Bonnan, M.F. 2007. Linear and geometric morphometric analysis of long bone scaling patterns in Jurassic Neosauropod dinosaurs: their functional and paleobiological implications. The Anatomical Record, 290(9): 1089-1111.
  8. ^ Bonnan, M.F., J.O. Farlow, and S.L. Masters. 2008. Using linear and geometric morphometrics to detect intraspecific variability and sexual dimorphism in femoral shape in Alligator mississippiensis and its implications for sexing fossil archosaurs. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 28(2): 422-431.
  9. ^ Livingston, V.J., Bonnan, M.F., Elsey, R.M., Sandrik, J.L., and Wilhite, D.R. 2009. Differential limb scaling in the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) and its implications for archosaur locomotor evolution. The Anatomical Record, 292: 787-797.
  10. ^ Yates, A.M., Bonnan, M.F., Neveling, J., Chinsamy, A., and Blackbeard, M. 2009. A new transitional sauropodomorph from the Early Jurassic of South Africa and the evolution of sauropod feeding and quadrupedalism. Proceedings of the Royal Society, London, B: doi:10.1098/rspb.2009.1440
  11. ^ Bonnan, M.F., Sandrik, J.L., Nishiwaki, T., Wilhite, D.R., Elsey, R.M., and Vittore, C. 2010. Calcified cartilage shape in archosaur long bones reflects overlying joint shape in stress-bearing elements: Implications for nonavian dinosaur locomotion. The Anatomical Record, 293: 2044-2055.
  12. ^ Fink, Jessica (2008-08-22). "WIU students dig for dinosaurs". Chicago Tribune. 
  13. ^ Yates, A.M., Bonnan, M.F., Neveling, J., Chinsamy, A., and Blackbeard, M. 2009. A new transitional sauropodomorph from the Early Jurassic of South Africa and the evolution of sauropod feeding and quadrupedalism. Proceedings of the Royal Society, London, B: doi:10.1098/rspb.2009.1440
  14. ^ http://www.wiu.edu/earthclaw/
  15. ^ Yates, A.M., Bonnan, M.F., and Neveling, J. 2011. A new basal sauropodomorph dinosaur from the Early Jurassic of South Africa. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 33 (3): 610-625.
  16. ^ http://matthewbonnan.wordpress.com/understanding-science-evolution/
  17. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkqUXsJVFFk

External links[edit]