Experts Guide

Name: Karen Samonds
Title: Dr.
Department: Biological Sciences
Office Phone: 815-753-3201
E-mail: ksamonds@niu.edu
Expertise: My research integrates comparative anatomy, systematics, and biogeography with field paleontology to address topics in vertebrate evolution. My paleontological field research aims to shed light on the origin and evolutionary history of Madagascar’s modern fauna, one of the most unique and endemic on the planet. How, when, and from where the island’s animals came from has remained largely unknown due to a 65 million year gap in the fossil record that occurs precisely during the time when the modern animals are thought to have arrived. By traveling to remote and previously unexplored regions of the island, I have started to elucidate this unknown period of Madagascar’s history by collecting and describing the first fossils from this time period. In addition to studying extinct animals, my research has also examined dental development, life history, and growth in non-human primates. My colleagues and I have also used new tools to examine life-history variation among extinct primates (including electron microscopy and ontogenetic studies of dental eruption and root formation). Finally, I work on a collaborative project examining morphometrics (including somatic growth and development) in the endangered lemur Propithecus diadema, and investigating the impacts of forest degradation on development and physiologic health. At NIU I I teach Human Gross Anatomy and Embryology.
Topics: Biology
Last Updated: 3/13/2013