Andrew H. Lee, PhD

Associate Professor of Anatomy


Midwestern University
Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine
Department of Anatomy
Agave 201R
19555 N 59th Ave.
Glendale, AZ 85308

Office: (623) 572-3732
Lab: (623) 572-6088
e-mail: alee2 at midwestern dot edu


EDUCATION

BS Geology Purdue University 1999
MS Geology Purdue University 2001
PhD Integrative Biology University of California, Berkeley 2007
Postdoctoral Biomedical Sciences Ohio University 2010

RESEARCH SUMMARY

I am an evolutionary morphologist with expertise in bone histology, biomechanics, and growth. This expertise gives me a unique perspective that integrates form, function, and time. With this perspective, I seek to understand why skeletons have certain microscopic features.

By using the annual growth lines preserved in dinosaur bones to estimate growth rates, my work shows that large dinosaurs matured about five times faster than living reptiles scaled to comparable size. Even small dinosaurs grew about 40% faster than living reptiles. A potential ecological advantage of rapid growth is the increase in lifetime reproductive success. These findings clarify how dinosaurs were successful for 150 million years as well as the precedent for rapid growth in their descendants, birds.

More is known about bone histology in extinct species than in living ones. Therefore, my current research focuses on living species. I am currently testing whether laminar bone is an adaptation to flight. Laminar bone is thought to resist twisting loads and is prevalent in some of the wing bones of birds. But it is absent in bats. The absence of laminar bone in bats is best explained by relatively slow growth compared to birds. This work suggests that growth is an important constraint on wing bone histology. To test this further, my students are tracking how laminar bone develops in the wings of growing birds. I believe that this ontogenetic approach is a powerful tool when testing for adaptation.