What’s in your freezer? Probably the usual collection of frozen vegetables and joints of meat. But the contents of John Hutchinson’s freezer are rather different. In fact, he has several freezers, all of whom contain far more exotic produce than yours:
“My freezers currently hold a lot of crocodiles, elephants and giraffe legs, a monitor lizard, an otter, many random bits of exotic animals, and quite a few domestic animals like horses and chickens,” says Hutchinson, a Professor of Evolutionary Biomechanics at the Structure and Motion Lab of the Royal Veterinary College, Hertfordshire, England.
Hutchinson specialises in the evolution of animal motion: “For example,” he says, “I study how the two-legged gaits of birds evolved from the four-legged movement of early reptiles, via dinosaurs.”
His research involves dissecting the carcases of living animals like elephants and emus as well as computer-generating extinct species like dinosaurs and quadrapeds - the first four-legged animals. The results often make headlines: Hutchinson and his team have published research on topics as varied as why T. Rex couldn’t outpace a car; how elephants have developed an extra ‘toe’; and how tetrapods dragged themselves out of the ancient seas to begin a new life on land.
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