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Three academic generations of scientists worked together to find Tiktaalik

Neil Shubin photo Ted Daeschler photo Farish A. Jenkins, Jr. photo

Professor Neil Shubin

Neil Shubin is interested in the major transformations of evolution. His approach uses both paleontology and developmental biology. By collecting new fossils from important time periods of evolution, he can ask how, why and when major new kinds of animals arose. Shubin's expeditions have taken him to the Maritimes of Canada, the American Southwest, Morocco, Greenland, South Africa and China. His developmental work looks at the the ways that the skeleton develops, particularly in fish and amphibians.

He is currently the Robert R. Bensley Distinguished Service Professor of the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy and Associate Dean of the Biological Sciences Division at the University of Chicago. He was a graduate student with Professor Jenkins and advisor to Dr. Daeschler. Thus, three academic generations are working on this project.

Dr. Ted Daeschler

Edward (Ted) Daeschler pursues a research program in vertebrate paleontology which focusses on fossils from the Late Devonian Period in eastern North America. The primary field areas for his research are in Pennsylvania and Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic. This research involves collecting and carrying out systematic work on a variety of Devonian vertebrates and placing the evolution of these faunas in the context of early non-marine ecosystems. His research helps us answer questions about the evolution of major groups of fishes, the origin of limbed vertebrates, and the invasion of land by plants and animals.

Dr. Daeschler is Assistant Curator and Chair of the Vertebrate Zoology Department at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia where he oversees the vertebrate paleontology, mammalogy, and herpetology research collections.

Professor Farish A. Jenkins, Jr.

Farish A. Jenkins, Jr.'s research interest is broadly in the area of vertebrate evolution, and focuses on complex structures and functions that are altered during major evolutionary transitions. He has undertaken experimental studies on living animals to gain insights into the fossil record, and developed the application of cineradiography (x-ray movies) to study the locomotion of reptiles and mammals and the flight of birds. Jenkins has explored for fossil vertebrates in North and South America, Greenland, Africa and Asia.

He is the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology at Harvard University. He also serves as Professor of Anatomy in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (Harvard Medical School) and as Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology and Mammalogy in the Museum of Comparative Zoology.

How did they know where to look?