Salamander Tail Development

Research Summary

As embryos, all vertebrates develop a tail yet its fate and function are varied.  Some vertebrates (e.g. humans) resorb the embryonic tail, others (e.g. frogs) resorb the larval tail during metamorphosis.  Most vertebrates retain and restructure the tail for use during later life stages where it may serve a variety of functions including locomotion, balance, enegy storage and predator defense.  For those vertebrates that retain a tail throughout adulthood, the process of tail elongation usually terminates.  However, axial elongation has been documented to continue through adulthood in several salamander genera.  We are interested in exploring the problems that need to be solved to add tail segments to post-embryonic vertebrate tails.  We are also interested in analyzing tail anatomy throughout embryonic, larval, juvenille and adult stages. 

Currently much of our work is focused on the four-toed salamander, Hemidactylium scutatum.  However, we also work with a variety of other salamander species.  Feel free to contact either Dr. Babcock or Dr. Hurney for more information.

Faculty Advisors:  

Sharon K. Babcock (Dr Babcock's Faculty Page)

Carol A. Hurney (Dr Hurney's Faculty Page)

Current Lab Members

  Teresa Pelletier
  Stephen Turner
  Katrina Smith
  Nida Karimi
  Previous Lab Members
Research Collaborators

  Janet Vaglia
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