Associate Professor in Evolutionary Biology
Vera Weisbecker

I specialize in land vertebrate (mainly mammalian) morphological evolution and adaptation. My group integrates evolutionary comparative methods, palaeontology, ecology, and embryology to quantify and explain patterns of vertebrate morphological diversity.

I love any kind of vertebrate diversity, but my focus is on using Australia’s iconic marsupial mammals to understand the past, present and future of mammalian diversity in general. I am currently particularly interested in understanding how species of native Australian mammals are capable of adapting their shape to changing environments. I ask these questions in diverse contexts, including conservation of phenomic diversity in threatened species, and understanding the interactions between environmental change and adaptations to herbivory in the present and the recent (megafaunal) past. Other projects I am working on relate to brain size and shape evolution is mammals and other vertebrates; mammalian middle ear evolution; and a little project on nocturnal adaptation of avian skulls.

You will rarely find me digging up fossils in the field, but I am very interested in the use of digitized 3D fossil to understand shape evolution and function of extinct mammals and other vertebrates. I also use soft-tissue staining techniques to uncover the development of key anatomical areas in the mammalian skull, particularly the brain and middle ear.

After finishing my undergraduate studies in my native Germany, I completed my PhD on marsupial skeletal adaptation at UNSW in 2008. During my postdoc I studied mammalian brain size evolution, splitting my time between Cambridge University, UCL, and Jena University (Germany). After eight years of working at The University of Queensland, I moved to Flinders University in February 2020.