Tag: Verity Bennett
Verity Bennett is a fourth-year PhD student studying marsupial evolution in the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London (UCL). She is also a keen amateur photographer who loves to travel and teach. She often helps out with the practical classes for vertebrate anatomy at UCL, but has also been involved with public engagement at UCL’s Grant Museum of Zoology, the Natural History Museum in London and the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Verity completed her BSc in geography and geology at the University of Manchester, UK, where she went on to do an MSc in biomechanics. Her master’s culminated in a short project investigating covariance in marsupial limb bones under the guidance of Anjali Goswami, who at the time was at the University of Cambridge, UK, and is now at UCL. This is where Verity’s fascination with marsupials began.
Verity Bennett, Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
by Verity Bennett1
The size and shape of an organism is the product of genetics and environment. It is the raw material on which the process of natural selection (survival of particular animals over others) acts, and so is of central interest in studies of the evolution of ancient forms of life for which DNA information is not available. Fossil morphology, or shape, is the basis of most palaeontological studies, be they describing new species or making deductions about the animal’s lifestyle. Phylogenetic studies, those that place species in groups depending on how closely they are related to each other, are based on the presence and absence of particular features. This works on the theory that the more closely related two animals are, the more features they are likely to h
by Verity Bennett*1
There are three groups of mammals alive today: the egg-laying monotremes (echidnas and platypuses); the marsupials (those with pouches); and the placentals (those that develop a placenta in the womb and give birth to comparatively developed young). Marsupials and placentals are sister groups, more closely related to each other than to monotremes. Along with their closest fossil ancestors, marsupials belong to the clade metatheria, whereas placentals belong to the clade eutheria. Together, metatheria and eutheria comprise the therian mammals. Marsupials are much less diverse than placental mammals in terms of numbers of different groups, range of lifestyles, range of body shapes and where they live. Why this is the case is still not well understood, and a