SICB Division of Phylogenetics and Comparative Biology (DPCB)

DPCB Researchers Database Entry

Jonah Choiniere

Evolutionary Relationships of Theropod Dinosaurs
I am interested in evolutionary relationships of theropod dinosaurs, particularly those that are closely related to birds. From the date of Archaeopteryx we infer that birds originated by at least the Late Jurassic, but until very recently there has been scant fossil evidence of closely-related theropods from this time period. My research focuses on discovering and describing new taxa that fill in this gap, determining their systematic position, and gleaning new characters from them. I am also interested in the application of software for sequence alignment, such as POY, to serial homology problems, such as manual digit homology in theropods and birds.

I have been involved in paleontological expeditions in China, Mongolia, and South Africa, and am planning future fieldwork that will investigate other Jurassic deposits worldwide. Currently, I am working on the detailed cranial anatomy of the Alvarezsauridae, a family of theropod dinosaurs that share many convergences with birds. This work will rely heavily on CT scans and will hopefully reveal new anatomical features that will clarify the relationships of this fascinating group.