Morphological character evolution and function

As a skeletal preparator at The Field Museum, I began to appreciate the diversity of forms and homology between fish oral and pharyngeal jaws. Today, I leverage museum specimens, my integrative toolkit, and my phylogenetic foundation to answer questions about the evolution and function of morphological features across fishes. Recent studies have addressed the evolution, form, and function of the water-shooting mechanism across archerfishes (Toxotidae), inflation in puffers (Triodontidae), and extremely elongated fin rays in larval cusk-eels (Ophidiidae). Investigations into morphological evolution have also highlighted patterns of convergence, such as highly producible jaws independently evolving in rubyfishes (Emmelichthyidae) and fusiliers (Lutjanidae). These works have been recognized by peers as exceptional contributions (e.g., 2023 Editors Choice Award, *Ichthyological *Research; April 2024 Top & Trending Research in BioOne Journals). Further, this work continues to afford opportunities for interactive outreach products that are approachable and of interest to general audiences (e.g., “Revealing the family ties of cusk-eels,” Ocean Portal; “Hit me with your best shot,” Discover Magazine). Above are some representative publications that target character evolution and function in fishes. Check out my publications for more information and representative publications.

Matthew G. Girard

I am interested in the evolution and biology of fishes and use integrative approaches to answer my questions