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David Carrier


Ph.D. University of Michigan

Graduate Program Membership:

Office/Building: Biol 123
Phone: 801-585-7967
Carrier Lab:

Research Statement

My research is focused on understanding the ways in which biomechanics has influenced the evolution of vertebrates. I have longstanding and continuing interests in the ontogeny of the musculoskeletal system; integration of locomotion and ventilation; ventilatory mechanisms; and limb biomechanics. Recently, I have become increasingly interested in anatomical specialization for aggressive behavior. My emphasis has been on 1. understanding functional tradeoffs between specialization for rapid and economical running versus specialization for aggressive behavior, and 2. the role that aggressive behavior has played in the evolution of the musculoskeletal system of great apes and hominins.

Research Interests

General Interests
Specific Interests
  • Comparative Biomechanics
  • Biomechanics of aggressive behavior
  • Evolution of hominins
  • Evolution of characters associated with social dominance
  • Role of the axial musculoskeletal system in locomotion and ventilation
  • Ontogeny of the musculoskeletal system

Selected Publications

  • Panagiotopoulou, O., P. Spyridis, H. Mehari Abraha, D. R. Carrier and T. C. Pataky. (2016). Architecture of the sperm whale forehead facilitates ramming combat. PeerJ 4, e1988.
  • Morris, J. S. and D. R. Carrier. (2016). Sexual selection on skeletal shape in Carnivora. Evolution.
  • Carrier, D. R. (2016). The Fight or Flight Dichotomy: Functional Tradeoff in Specialization for Aggression Versus Locomotion. In: Understanding mammalian locomotion: Concepts and applications. (John Bertram, editor). pp 325-345. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Horns, J., R. Jung and D. R. Carrier. (2015). In vitro strain in human metacarpal bones during striking: testing the pugilism hypothesis of hominin hand evolution. Journal of Experimental Biology 218, 3215-3221.
  • Carrier, D. R., N. Schilling and C. Anders. (2015). Muscle activation during maximal effort tasks: evidence of the selective forces that shaped the musculoskeletal system of humans. Biology open bio-014381.
  • Carrier, D. R. and M. H. Morgan. (2015). Protective buttressing of the hominin face. Biological Reviews 90, 330-346.

Courses Taught

  • Biol 3310: Comparative Vertebrate Morphology Lab
  • Biol 3380: Evolutionary and Physiological Basis of Health
  • Biol 5320: Biology of Aggression
  • Biol 7964: Special Topics