Extreme Anatomy: The Lottery Winners, Specialists, and Extreme Adaptations That Are No More

Timothy D. Smith, Jeffrey T. Laitman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This special issue of The Anatomical Record explores extravagant adaptions that vertebrates have evolved from their base groups to survive in the most challenging environments. It stems from a symposium entitled “Extreme Anatomy: Living beyond the edge,” which was held April 23, 2017, at the annual meeting of the American Association for Anatomy, in Chicago, IL. In Part 1 of this issue, we examined extreme morphologies that allow exploration of new niches. In this issue, we return to the evolution of terrestriality by digging deeply into the fossil history of the piscine antecedent of tetrapods. These were truly “lottery winners” among vertebrates. This issue also bears on extreme specialists that once thrived but are now long extinct and some extant species that thrive in the hottest terrestrial niches. Herein, several contributions discuss developmental strategies that facilitate later demanding locomotor regimens and feeding strategies for accessing nutrients from less than ideal food sources. From mole-rats to short-faced breeds of domestic dogs, we encounter another host of the most unusual of earth's creatures, who have much to teach us about our world. Anat Rec, 2019.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-217
Number of pages4
JournalAnatomical Record
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2020


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