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DVM: 1998 Spring Newsleter

This Newsletter by Section

Message from the Chair

Peter C. Wainwright

Greetings fellow vertebrate morphologists. As we approach the 1999 SICB Annual Meeting in Denver, Jan. 6-10, 1999, I hope that everyone has had a productive past few months and is now enjoying the new school year.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the new president-elect of SICB, Martin Feder. I think that we will find Dr. Feder is not afraid to stir things up a bit, and I strongly encourage you to take your thoughts on SICB matters to him. He has already shown a willingness to actively pursue issues that concern the betterment of SICB.

Speaking of presidents-elect, with this newsletter we will be holding elections for the next chair-elect of DVM. I would like to thank Beth Brainerd and Mark Westneat who served as the Nominating Committee for this position. They have identified two outstanding nominees, Frank Fish and Kathleen Smith. Please read their biographies, their statements of purpose and above all, VOTE.

The Denver meeting has shaped up to be an excellent one for our division. In addition to the usual divisional and interdivisional sessions that we will be taking part in, there will be two symposia of particular interest to our members. Paul Maderson and Dominique Homberger have organized "Evolutionary Origin of Feathers," and John Long with Tom Koob has put together "The Function and Evolution of the Vertebrate Axis." Wow! Talk about two classic issues in vertebrate morphology! I also think our members will find interesting content in several of the other symposia being presented.

In closing I will point out that this will be my last newsletter as DVM chair. This has been a lot of fun and I have enjoyed working with those of you who have been involved with DVM in recent years. It seems that the research our members are involved in just keeps getting more and more interesting and exciting every year. I will look forward to seeing all of you and your research reports in Denver and future SICB meetings!

Message from the Program Officer

Kurt Schwenk

Although you will read this in the fall, it is still summer as I write and too soon to have much in the way of relevant new information. Or perhaps my reticence stems from the fact that I am suffering a severe case of that little understood, but widely experienced, mental disorder known as SAD (Seasonal Academic Disorder). SAD is characterized by depression and anxiety attendant upon the end of an all-too-brief summer and the start of a new fall semester. Either way, I expect soon to bounce back to my usual state of cautious pessimism.

Nonetheless, if there is one thing I remain positive about through this difficult time, it is the upcoming regional (Nov. 7-8, 1988) and Denver (Jan. 6-10, 1999) meetings. Denver should be a great town for a meeting and as I pointed out in the last newsletter, the Adam's Mark Hotel is a veritable bargain at $70 a night. I understand that there are even a few morphologists in Colorado (some of you may have heard of Jim Hanken, an obscure, but colorful character). I have not yet seen the abstracts for the Denver meeting, but as usual there will be interdivisional, as well as DVM paper sessions. I will do my best to minimize overlap among related sessions and symposia. Our divisional symposium, "The Function and Evolution of the Vertebrate Axis" organized by John Long and Tom Koob, is looking great! You can axis (I mean access) details, including abstracts, on John's web site ( In addition, DVM is cosponsoring the society-wide symposium "The Evolutionary Origin of Feathers" organized by DVMers Paul Maderson and Dominique Homberger. If you have been reading Nature lately you will know that few topics could be more timely.

The northeastern regional meeting of DVM will take place at Harvard University, hosted by Kate Jackson, Tomasz Owerkowicz and Fuzz Crompton. A keynote address by Brian Hall will launch what promises to be another excellent meeting renowned for excellent science in an atmosphere of congeniality and informality - and no concurrent sessions! Contact Kate ( or Tomasz ( for information and to add your name to the e-mail contact list. I recently reviewed symposium proposals for the 2000 Atlanta meeting. Although it is likely that DVM will cosponsor one or two of these, I was disappointed at the absence of a DVM proposal. I hope that next year I will have several to consider - start planning!

Message from the Secretary

John Long

On behalf of the members of DVM, I'd like to thank Peter Wainwright for his service as divisional chair. He has been simply sensational.

Work on new DVM web sites is proceeding apace. In addition to the web page maintained by SICB (, we have two new sites for our division. The first is temporary and contains information - including pre-publication abstracts - for the DVM-sponsored symposium "The Function and Evolution of the Vertebrate Axis" at the following URL: The second, called "Morphospace," contains these messages from the DVM officers: A web-based newsletter offers the possibility of updating at a pace dictated by news and not press time, eliminating printed newsletters altogether, and presenting the workings of DVM to a much larger audience. In addition, Morphospace contains reviewed, categorized links to databases, granting agencies, DVM member pages, and the like. Please send me (e-mail: any comments or possible additions. Most importantly, if you'd like us to link your personal web page, please say so.

In Memoriam - Erik Jarvik (1907-1998), The Paleozoologist Who Gave Second Life to Eustenopteron foordi

Hans C. Bjerring

Anders Erik Vilhelm Jarvik (né Johansson) celebrated his 90th birthday on Nov. 30, 1997. He died on Jan. 11, 1998. He was truly one of the most important paleozoologists of the century. His scientific work has had a major impact on our thinking about the evolution of vertebrates.

A student at Uppsala University, Jarvik arrived at the palaeozoology section of the Swedish Museum of Natural History (Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet) in 1934 and soon developed an incurable addiction to the history of life. He spent the next 62 years at the museum, ascending the academic ladder from assistant (1937) to professor (1960). After his retirement in 1973, he maintained a full schedule of research activities through the 80s and early 90s.

Jarvik devoted two-thirds of his life to the evolution of vertebrates. To this end he used retro-evolutionary analysis, interpretation of fossils by comparisons with extant life forms, adults and/or embryos. The fossils were largely collected in Devonian deposits of the Arctic. He procured the cranial morphology of some of these fossils with the use of Sollas' grinding method and enlarged wax-plate models made from the ground sections. This time-consuming technique enabled study of the three-dimensional morphology of plagiostome and teleostome crania from Paleozoic and Mesozoic times. One of these serially ground fossils is the osteolopiform fish Eusthenopteron foordi from the Upper Devonian of Miguasha, Canada. Morphologically, it is today incomparably the best known fossil fish.

Over the years Jarvik arrived at his own views about the evolution of vertebrates, outlined in his book "Basic Structure and Evolution of Vertebrates" (1980, Academic Press). An important constituent of this view is that tetrapods have evolved more than once. More precisely, because of profound anatomical similarities Jarvik concluded that urodeles are descendants of porolepiform fishes, whereas the majority of the remaining tetrapods, the eutetrapods, are descendants of osteolepiform fishes. This hypothesis, which goes back to Jarvik's doctoral thesis, has very few adherents nowadays. Nobody, however, has been able to prove it wrong.

Erik Jarvik was a legend in his own time. His career lasted 62 years. Privately, he was extraordinarily approachable and generous. Thus ends a great era in Swedish science.

DVM Candidates for Election

Candidates for Chair-Elect

Frank E. Fish

Current Position: Professor of Biology, West Chester University.
Education: B.A., Biology, SUNY at Oswego, 1975; M.S., Zoology, Michigan State University, 1977; Ph.D., Zoology, Michigan State University, 1980.
Professional Experience: Assistant Professor of Biology, West Chester University, 1980-1986; Associate Professor of Biology, West Chester University, 1986-1989; Professor of Biology, West Chester University, 1989-Present; Honorary Fellow of the Flinders University of South Australia, 1995.
SICB Activities: Local Committee for Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, Pa., 1983; Meeting Session Chair, 1983, 1985, 1987-1989, 1996, 1998; Nominating Committee for the Chair-Elect of the Division of Vertebrate Morphology, 1984, 1988, 1992; Secretary of the Division of Vertebrate Morphology, 1991-1995; Editorial Board for the American Zoologist, 1992-1997; D. Dwight Davis Student Award Committee, 1996.
Other Memberships: American Society of Mammalogists; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania University Biologists; International Congress of Vertebrate Morphology; Pennsylvania Academy of Science; Sigma Xi; The Society for Marine Mammalogy.
Research Interests: My research interests are concerned with the evolution of vertebrate aquatic locomotion. My approach to this research integrates the fields of functional morphology, biomechanics, ecological physiology, and hydrodynamics. I am interested specifically in adaptations that are associated with the use of energy during swimming. By examining energy use and efficiency through metabolic and hydrodynamic studies, the evolutionary transition of highly derived aquatic species (such as whales and seals) from terrestrial ancestors may be elucidated. In addition, I am interested in formation movement as a behavioral mechanism to reduce the energetic cost of locomotion.
Goals Statement: My primary goal is to support and strengthen DVM. This goal can be met by a multifaceted approach. The presentation at the Annual Meeting of high quality science should continue to be encouraged. There is already an excellent core of researchers who present at the meeting each year, but other equally exceptional biologists who do not attend should be encouraged to present through inclusion in symposia or direct invitation. Invitations to the meetings also should be made to students whose early exposure to other investigators and the scientific process will help in the advancement of their projects and aid them in their professional development. Mechanisms to afford student participation should be continually identified and strengthened. DVM should continue to provide quality symposia. Cosponsorship of symposia with other divisions will aid in integrating morphology with the collective interests of the Society. Finally, I would like to identify the future role of morphology and its integration with other fields such as molecular biology, engineering and developmental genetics. Such a review could provide new outlets for professional opportunities and scholarly growth, while the recognition of the union of our discipline with such diverse fields would highlight the importance of morphology and organismal biology.

Kathleen K. Smith

Current Position: Professor of Anatomy, Duke University.
Education: B.A., University of California, Santa Cruz; Ph.D., Harvard University.
Professional Experience: Assistant, Associate and Full Professor at Duke University (since 1980). Vice Provost for Academic Programs, Duke University, 1994-1995.
SICB Activities: Nominating Committee, Divisional Representative to Public Affairs Committee, Dwight D. Davis Prize Committee. Member since 1976.
Other Memberships: Society for the Study of Evolution, Sigma Xi, Society for Developmental Biology, American Society of Mammalogists.
Research Interests: My general interests center on the determinants of form in vertebrates, in particular the head. My previous work concentrated on functional morphology and biomechanics, and in recent years on development. I am currently focusing on comparative patterns of marsupial and placental mammals, as these animals take different pathways to the construction of the head. I am examining the interactions between various cranial systems - nervous, skeletal and muscular - and looking at the developmental consequences of shifting the relative timing of differentiation of various components of these highly integrated systems.
Goal Statement: The Division of Vertebrate Morphology has been important to me since I was a graduate student. It is an organization that allows students to gain experience in professional interaction in an atmosphere that is generally supportive, but is also critical, demanding high quality of work and presentation. Now, when I attend the meeting, the quality and enthusiasm of the students continually impress me. Promoting the contributed paper session is an obvious way to keep strong focus on graduate student contributions. I would like to have active graduate student participation in determining other activities that would be most beneficial to their professional development. I believe we should make efforts to increase interdivisional symposia and sessions and to continue to look towards topics that are highly integrative and synthetic.

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