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Morpho-functional evolution of the mammalian scapula

Department of Archaeology

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Dr P Cox , Dr KT Bates No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The scapula is an element of both the thoracic girdle and the forelimb, with its functional requirements including both shoulder stabilization and forelimb mobility. The relative importance of those functions, however, varies with forelimb use. Therefore, scapular morphology will be driven by the ecology of an animal as well as its environment, whilst also being constrained by evolutionary history and biomechanics. Understanding how these factors have come together in shaping the mammalian scapula will give us insight into the extent to which mammals can potentially adapt to environmental change.

This project will use: statistical shape analysis, to assess variation in scapular morphology across a wide range of mammals in order to determine relationships between morphology, ecology and environment; advanced imaging techniques, to reveal the soft tissue anatomy associated with the scapula; and biomechanical modelling, to analyse the relationship between scapular form and function.

This project would be ideal for a student with a background in zoology, anatomy, palaeontology, or zooarchaeology. Prior experience with geometric morphometrics and/or biomechanical simulation is a bonus, but not essential, as training can be provided in-house. However, it is important that the student is competent in mathematics and data handling. The student will be based with the principal supervisor,
Dr Phil Cox, at the University of York. Co-supervision will be provided by Dr Karl Bates (University of Liverpool) and Dr Eloy Gálvez López (University of York).

The ACCE DTP is committed to recruiting extraordinary future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills.

Funding Notes

This project is part of the ACCE NERC Doctoral Training Programme in Ecology and Evolution. Appointed candidates will be fully-funded for 3.5 years. The funding includes:

Tax-free annual UKRI stipend (£15,285 for 2020/21)
UK tuition fees (£4,473 for 2021/22)
Research support and training charges (RSTC)

International candidates (including EU) will be considered however they will need to have adequate funds to meet the difference in tuition fees. International tuition fees for 2021 entry is £22,250.

Not all projects will be funded; a limited number of candidates will be appointed via a competitive process.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this programme means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any biological, chemical, and/or physical science, or students with mathematical backgrounds who are interested in using their skills in addressing ecology and evolution questions. If English is not your first language, you will need to meet the minimum entry requirements for your country. Please check our website:

START DATE: 1st October 2021
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