Two years ago I was approached to write a chapter for a book about the evolution, diversity, and development of the vertebrate head and jaws as well as its associated muscles.
The book, to be edited by Janine Ziermann, Raul Diaz, and Rui Diogo, and published by Springer, aimed to document the emergence of these structures within chordates (animals possessing a notochord), from the earliest vertebrate origins up to and including humans.
The book was an ambitious project as Springer wanted to summarise the most recent and state-of-the-art scientific knowledge while also being written in a way to make it accessible to the broader public, and not only written for specialists in the field.
I was very flattered to be approached, and contributed the sarcopterygian “lobe-finned” fish chapter. My chapter covers the changes and characteristic features in the skull and jaws from the first “lobe-finned” fish all the way to the “stem-tetrapods” – the fish that evolved limbs with digits in readiness for moving out of water and onto land. I also include detail about the soft tissue (head muscles and the brain) and developmental evolution in the living sarcopterygian fish, coelacanths and lungfish.
The book’s full title is “Heads, Jaws, and Muscles: Anatomical, Functional, and Developmental Diversity in Chordate Evolution” and it is part of Springer’s Fascinating Life Sciences series. It is due to be published this November and I’m very excited to see it out in print soon!