I am a palaeobiologist interested in the evolution and development of life. Hypotheses from biological sciences propose that the evolution of life is driven towards increasing complexity by key innovations. As a model for this I study the origin and evolution of jaws and teeth and the dermal skeleton. Using mainly non-invasive X-ray microscopy I reconstruct the histology of tissue types and growth of structures.
Palaeobiology, evolution and development, vertebrates, X-ray computed tomography, jaws and teeth, dermal skeleton, Placoderms, Devonian
The evolution of jaws and teeth.
Contrary to traditional hypotheses I demonstrated that the first teeth evolved in placoderms, the sister group to all living jawed vertebrates. In my current research on the evolution of jaws and teeth, supported by a Vidi grant from NWO, I test hypotheses on the evolution of tooth replacement in jawed vertebrates, especially in osteichthyans. In my team we investigate the evolution of complexity using dental complexity as a model, we investigate the evolution of modularity of vertebrate jaws and the evolution of dental gene-regulation using computational models.
Projects me and my team are working on currently.
Evolution of tooth replacement in jawed vertebrates
Evolution and development of dental complexity
Early vertebrate morphology and evolution
Couzens A. M. C., Sears, K. E. & Rücklin, M. 2021. Developmental influence on evolutionary rates and the origin of placental mammal tooth complexity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 118 (23) e2019294118. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2019294118
Rücklin, M., King, B., Cunningham, J.A., Johanson, Z., Marone & F., Donoghue, P.C.J. 2021. Acanthodian dental development and the origin of gnathostome dentitions. Nature Ecology & Evolution 5, 919-926. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-021-01458-4
Doeland, M., Couzens, AMC., Donoghue PCJ. & Rücklin, M. 2019. Tooth replacement in early sarcopterygians. R. Soc. open sci. 6: 191173. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.191173
Donoghue, P. C. J. & Rücklin, M. 2016. The ins and outs of the evolutionary origin of teeth. Evolution & Development 18:1, 19-30.
Giles, S., Rücklin, M. & Donoghue, P.C.J. 2013. Histology of the placoderm dermal skeleton: implications for the nature of the ancestral gnathostome. Journal of Morphology 274: 627-644.
Rücklin, M., Donoghue, P.C.J., Johanson, Z., Trinajstic, K., Marone, F. & Stampanoni, M. 2012. Development of teeth and jaws in the earliest jawed vertebrates. Nature 491: 748-751.
Rücklin, M., Giles, S., Janvier, P. & Donoghue, P.C.J. 2011. Teeth before jaws? Comparative analysis of the structure and development of the external and internal scales in the extinct jawless vertebrate Loganellia scotica. Evolution & Development 13: 523-532.
Melina Jobbins - Zurich University - Main supervior: Prof. Christian Klug; Co-supervisor: Martin Rücklin
Wenjing Yi - Leiden University - Main supervisor: Prof. Michael Richardson; Co-supervisor: Martin Rücklin
We welcome new PhD students or postdoctoral researchers in my team. Get in contact to discuss possibilities.
Former lab members and PhD students
- Dr Benedict King - former postdoctoral researcher in Vidi project 'jaws and teeth' working on the assembly of the vertebrate dentition and jaws - now postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig - Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
- Dr Aidan Couzens - former postdoctoral researcher in Vidi project 'jaws and teeth' working on the evolution of dental complexity - now postdoc at the University of California, Los Angeles - Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
- Dr Sebastien Enault - former postdoctoral researcher - now Kraniata - skeletal preparation
- Dr Linda Frey - PhD May 2019 at University of Zürich- co-supervisor M. Rücklin
- Floortje Mossou - former research assistant
- Biodiversity - Leiden University, 1st year BSc - 2020
- Palaeobiology - Leiden University, MSc course - 2018-present, since 2020 as coordinator
- Honours class 'Crisis in Biology' now 'Evolution of Earth and Life' - Leiden University - 2018-present
- Evolution and development course – Leiden University, MSc – 2017-present
- Evolutionary biology - Leiden University, 2nd year BSc - 2017-present
- Zoology and developmental biology, Vertebrate evolution and vertebrate skeleton – Leiden University, BSc – 2013-present
- Methods in Biodiversity - Leiden University, MSc - 2016-2017
- Tomography and 3D visualization of (palaeo)biological tissues – Naturalis – 2015 - present
- Vertebrate Evolution and Palaeobiology – University of Bristol – 2011-2012
- 3D imaging techniques – University of Bristol – 2009-2011
- Frontiers in Earth Sciences – University of Bristol – 2009
- Access to Bristol – University of Bristol – 2009-2011
Me and my team supervise BSc and MSc internships. Get in contact to discuss possibilities.
The Conversation - Evolution of a smile: 400 million year old spiny fish overturns shark theory of tooth origins
Nature Today - Nieuwe inzichten in de evolutie van kaken bij de eerste kaakdieren
Spiegel online – Evolution: Urzeitfisch war wohl erstes Wirbeltier mit Zähnen
Deutschlandfunk – Bissig von Anfang an
Dental Tribune – Researchers discover the origin of teeth