Matthew J. Ravosa, Ph.D.


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Matthew RavosaProfessor and Director of Graduate Studies
phone: 573-884-7303 (office); 573-882-8101 (lab)
Biographical sketch

B.A., 1983, Paleoanthropology, University of Rochester

M.A., 1986, Biological Anthropology, Northwestern University

Ph.D., 1989, Biological Anthropology, Northwestern University

Additional study:
NIH NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow, Experimental Biology, Duke University Medical Center

Academic Appointments:
MU PAS Director of Graduate Studies

Research Associate, Field Museum of Natural History

Professional Memberships: Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (lifetime member); American Association of Physical Anthropology (lifetime member); American Association for the Advancement of Science (fellow); International Society for Vertebrate Morphology.


  • evolutionary morphology of the mammalian skull and feeding complex
  • experimental, comparative and theoretical analyses of skull growth, form, function and phylogeny
  • biomechanics, plasticity, degradation, adaptation and aging of the musculoskeletal system
  • heterochrony, allometry, scaling and ecogeographic size variation

Research description
Dr. Ravosa's research program in the evolutionary morphology of the mammalian skull and feeding apparatus focuses on marked adaptive transformations in the musculoskeletal system across and within higher-level clades. Such interests fall into two major categories: comparative, ontogenetic, experimental and theoretical approaches to form-function relations in the musculoskeletal system; and phyletic size change, relative growth, heterochrony, life-history variation and aging. These projects have differentially focused on primates because they are a morphologically diverse group in which a number of interesting evolutionary questions can be uniquely addressed. Recent projects have been applied to other mammal clades with the aim of verifying and informing our knowledge of the evolution of specific character states and complexes. Such work has significantly involved graduate, undergraduate, postdoctoral, medical and dental students.

Currently, he is addressing several important issues: development, biomechanics, performance, plasticity, aging and disorders of jaw and limb joints in mammals; circumorbital development, form, function and evolution in mammals; scaling of masticatory loading parameters; ontogeny and evolution of cranial integration, encephalization, orbital orientation and basicranial flexion; and ecological bases and consequences of phyletic size change in the skeleton of living and extinct strepsirrhine primates. The ultimate goal of his integrative research program is to assess diverse sources of evidence in an explicit phylogenetic framework and thus enrich our understanding of the evolutionary and translational significance of important musculoskeletal, behavioral and ecological patterns of anatomical variation.

Representative Publications

  • Ravosa, M.J., Ross, C.F., Costley, D.B., Williams, S.H., Herring, S.W., Liu, Z.J., Rafferty, K.L. & Hylander, W.L. (2010) Allometry of masticatory loading parameters in mammals. Anatomical Record, in press.  (Special Issue – Experimental Approaches to Primate Morphology)
  • Jašarević, E., Ning, J., Daniel, A.N., Menegaz, R.A., Johnson, J.J., Stack, M.S. & Ravosa, M.J. (2010) Masticatory loading, function and plasticity: A microanatomical analysis of mammalian circumorbital soft-tissue structures. Anatomical Record, in press.  (Special Issue – Experimental Approaches to Primate Morphology)
  • Hammond, A.S., Ning, J., Ward, C.V. & Ravosa, M.J. (2010) Mammalian limb loading and chondral modeling during ontogeny. Anatomical Record, in press.  (Special Issue – Experimental Approaches to Primate Morphology)
  • Menegaz, R.A., Sublett, S.V., Figueroa, S.D., Hoffman, T.J., Ravosa, M.J. & Aldridge, K. (2010) Evidence for the influence of diet on cranial form and robusticity. Anatomical Record, in press.  (Special Issue – Experimental Approaches to Primate Morphology)
  • Menegaz, R.A., Sublett, S.V., Figueroa, S.D., Hoffman, T.J. & Ravosa, M.J. (2009) Phenotypic      plasticity and function of the hard palate in growing rabbits. Anatomical Record 292A:277-284.
  • López, E.K., Stock, S.R., Taketo, M.M., Chen, A. & Ravosa, M.J. (2008) A novel transgenic mouse model for fetal encephalization and cranial development. Integrative and Comparative Biology 48:360-372.  (Invited Symposium – Building a Better Organismal Model: The Role of the Mouse)
  • Ravosa, M.J., López, E.K., Menegaz, R.A., Stock, S.R., Stack, M.S. & Hamrick, M.W. (2008) Using “Mighty Mouse” to understand masticatory plasticity: Myostatin-deficient mice and musculoskeletal function. Integrative and Comparative Biology 48:345-359.  (Invited Symposium – Building a Better Organismal Model: The Role of the Mouse)
  • Ravosa, M.J., Kunwar, R., Stock, S.R. & Stack, M.S. (2007) Pushing the limit: Masticatory stress and adaptive plasticity in mammalian craniomandibular joints. Journal of Experimental Biology 210:628-641.  (See accompanying article in same issue – Inside JEB. Hard diets build bone. 210:ii-iii)
  • Ravosa, M.J. (2007) Cranial ontogeny, diet and ecogeographic variation in African lorises. American Journal of Primatology 69:59-73.  (Invited Symposium – see 4/22/05 issue of Science "New View of Lorises" 308:491)
  • Ravosa, M.J., Savakova, D.G., Johnson, K.R. & Hylander, W.L. (2006) Primate origins and the function of the circumorbital region: What’s load got to do with it? In M.J. Ravosa & M. Dagosto (Eds.): Primate Origins: Adaptations and Evolution. NY: Springer, pp. 285-328.
  • Ravosa, M.J. & Hogue, A.S. (2004) Function and fusion of the mandibular symphysis in mammals: A comparative and experimental perspective. In C.F. Ross & R.F. Kay (Eds.): Anthropoid Evolution. New Visions. NY: Springer, pp. 413-462.

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