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David Scager

PhD candidate - Endless forms


Email: david.scager@naturalis.nl
Phone: +31 (0)71-7519247
Room number: Vondellaan 55, 3rd floor, desk 52
“The more we get to know and understand about the workings and history of life and the world around us, the more awe-inspiring and beautifull it becomes.”

Ever since I was a young boy I have been fascinated by the workings and history of the world around us. After learning about the mechanisms through which earth was formed and which facilitate its change through deep time, I learned that life from a very early point onwards has been an important mechanism in earth history. One that transcends scales, making the history of earth also the history of life.
For example, the notion that microscopic organisms at the bottom of the ocean are influenced by the rythmic movements of the planets in our solar system (through climate change), combined with the effect that the accumulation of their carbonate skeletons has on plate subduction and volcanism illustrates this beautifully.

So, naturally, the next step in understanding the history and workings of the world around us lies in the evolution of life. With enough time multicellular organisms become more or less plastic entities with both plastic and rigid elements. For example, terrestrial vertebrates tend to have four limbs, but these can be adapted to (amongst others) flight, grasping or jumping. Evolution of the vertebrate body plan has as sense of poetry to it, the rules of which can only be approximated by combining our understanding of both extant and extinct life forms.

Finally, I find that the more we get to know and understand about the workings and history of the world around us, the more awe-inspiring and beautifull it becomes. I hope to releigh this enthusiasm back to society throughout my scientific career.


After completing a BSc and MSc in Earth Sciences (MSc Earth, Life & Climate), I have been given the opportunity to extend my expertise farther into the biological domain.


Research interest

My current interest lies, in broad terms, with the acquisition and/or loss of specific morphological features of the vertebrate body plan, such as the lower jaw, and testing associated macroevolutionary hypotheses by means of both extant and extinct organisms


Current research topics

The vertebrate jaw is recognized as a key-innovation of the vertebrate body plan underpinning their evolutionary succes (99% of living vertebrates has jaws), as well as a tested model of modularity (system of semi-independent components). Looking into the macroevolution of modularity of the vertebrate lower jaw would provide us with new insights on the origins and changing interrelations of the jaw components and would allow us to test hypotheses concerning this key-innovation.




Available student projects