Project Description :
Fossoriality, a life dedicated to living underground, has evolved several times in mammals. However, we know very little about burrowing, in large part because animals burrow in opaque substrates (soil and sand). In the Dumont lab, we study burrowing on moles. Moles are highly specialized diggers with specialized forelimb morphologies, including robust humeri, elongated scapulae and enlarged hands with six digits. In this project, we investigate how these derived morphologies increase the efficiency of burrowing in three North American moles. By using force plate and biplanar x-ray imaging, we compare the burrowing performance (force, velocity and stroke frequency) among three North American moles with different degrees of fossoriality. We are seeking to reveal the mystery of the burrowing mechanism in moles and understand how their musculoskeletal systems evolved to adapt to life underground.
We are seeking a motivated student to aid us in capturing animals from the field, taking care of captive animals, observing behaviour and assisting with experiments. The student will gain experience and training in field work, animal behaviour experiment, 3D motion analysis technique, statistical methods, and mammalian anatomy.