Send to

Choose Destination
Integr Comp Biol. 2019 Sep 1;59(3):599-603. doi: 10.1093/icb/icz121.

The Future is Bright for Evolutionary Morphology and Biomechanics in the Era of Big Data.

Author information

Department of Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA.
Department of Biological Sciences, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634, USA.


In recent years, the fields of evolutionary biomechanics and morphology have developed into a deeply quantitative and integrative science, resulting in a much richer understanding of how structural relationships shape macroevolutionary patterns. This issue highlights new research at the conceptual and experimental cutting edge, with a special focus on applying big data approaches to classic questions in form-function evolution. As this issue illustrates, new technologies and analytical tools are facilitating the integration of biomechanics, functional morphology, and phylogenetic comparative methods to catalyze a new, more integrative discipline. Although we are at the cusp of the big data generation of organismal biology, the field is nonetheless still data-limited. This data bottleneck is primarily due to the rate-limiting steps of digitizing specimens, recording and tracking organismal movements, and extracting patterns from massive datasets. Automation and machine-learning approaches hold great promise to help data generation keep pace with ideas. As a final and important note, almost all the research presented in this issue relied on specimens-totaling the tens of thousands-provided by museum collections. Without collection, curation, and conservation of museum specimens, the future of the field is much less bright.


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center