How did animals with jaws evolve from their jawless ancestors?

Dr Sam Giles is a vertebrate palaeontologist with an interest in the anatomy, relationships, and macroevolution of Palaeozoic and Mesozoic fossil fishes. Her research uses x-ray imaging to look back in time, hundreds of million years, to get inside the heads of early jawed fishes and to understand their evolution.

In this video Sam describes her recent research into the inner ear of a 400 million-year-old ‘platypus fish’ – Brindabellaspis stensioi. Its closely connected components resemble the inner ears of modern jawed vertebrates such as sharks and bony fishes. Some features of it also appear very similar to a human’s inner ear.

Dr Giles is interested in the origins and evolutionary success of different bony vertebrate groups and the evolution of key features in the vertebrate body plan. Her work has led to major revisions in our understanding of origins of gnathostomes, osteichthyans, and teleosts, some of the most species-rich vertebrate clades.

Dr Giles is Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow and Senior Research Fellow

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