Recent and Current Projects

The ontogeny of muscle architecture in the forelimb and masticatory muscles of the grey mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus)

Dr. Hartstone-Rose and a team of students traveled to Paris, France several times to collect muscle fiber architectural data from the forearm and masticatory muscle apparatus of an ontogenetic sample of grey mouse lemurs containing over 30 individuals from the mouse lemur colony in Brunoy, France. The goal of the study was to determine how muscle architecture changes throughout a species life time, specifically changes in muscle mass, average fiber length, and physiological cross sectional area (PCSA; force production capabilities).  The project led to two papers published in The Anatomical Record.

DiceCT visualization of lemuroid mimetic musculature

We have used Diffusible Iodine-based Contrast-Enhanced Computed Tomography (diceCT) to visualize mimetic musculature, or facial expression musculature, in a sample of lemuroids. These measures have been precluded from examination through a traditional chemical dissection or gross examination approach. As this musculature is associated with visual communication, the evaluation of these variables will allow up to further understand the functional abilities of mimetic muscles as well as to illuminate patterns of morphological adaption as they potentially relate to behavior.  We published that study, several other DiceCT papers and have several other ongoing projects using these methods.


“Weird bones” of Rancho La Brea

The La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles, California are a rich resource for fossil specimens. Two studies have been previously published out of our lab that focus on two obscure and understudied bones: the baculum and clavicle. To continue this line of research, we have undertaken additional studies that focus on the hyoid apparatus and the ossicles of the middle in some iconic species found at La Brea: the dire wolf (Canis dirus) and the sabertooth tiger (Smilodon fatalis). Our analysis of the canid hyoid bones was published in The Journal of Morphology and we have three additional papers in preparation looking at the rest of these “weird” bones.


Animal behavior during the 2017 total solar eclipse

In August 2017, during the total solar eclipse, members of the lab performed a study of animal behavior at the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, SC. Twelve different animal exhibits were carefully assessed in the days leading up to the solar event, as well as during the event itself. The purpose of the study was to determine if animal behavior changes in response to a total solar eclipse–a topic that had not been well researched during previous eclipses. A video interview conducted by Dr. Hartstone-Rose on the day of the eclipse can be found here

“For education, for science, for animal care–every single member of the zoo has something that potentially can come about”

-AHR to Science Friday

STEM Teens

This purpose of this study is to examine STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) engagement outcomes for youth educators and the visitors they interact with. We hope to understand the impact of early exposure to STEM education, the long term effects of early education programs, and how individual diversity impacts these outcomes. Ultimately, the study aims to improve the practice of educational programming. This project is being funded by the National Science Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.