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Frietson Galis

Frietson Galis - Senior researcher - Endless forms


Email: Frietson.Galis@naturalis.nl
Phone: +31 71 7519144
Room number: Vondellaan 55, Leiden


Research interest

I study innovations and mechanisms that either facilitate or constrain evolutionary changes. In particular, the role of pleiotropic constraints and selection in shaping the adaptive evolution of body plans.


Current research topics






Available student projects


Selected publications

Galis F, Carrier DR, van Alphen J, van der Mije SD, Van Dooren TJ, Metz JA, ten Broek CM. 2014. Fast running restricts evolutionary change of the vertebral column in mammals. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 111: 11401-06. 64.  

Reumer JW, Ten Broek CM, Galis F. 2014. Extraordinary incidence of cervical ribs indicates vulnerable condition in Late Pleistocene mammoths. PeerJ. 2014 Mar 25;2:e318. doi: 10.7717/peerj.318.

Ten Broek, C.M.A., Bakker, A.J., Bugiani, M. Van Dongen, S., Galis F. 2012. Evo-devo of the human vertebral column. On homeotic transformations, pathologies and prenatal selection. Evol. Biol. 39:456-471,  DOI: 10.1007/s11692-012-9196-1. 

Varela Lasheras, I.,  A. J. Bakker, S. van der Mije, J. van Alphen, F. Galis. 2011. Breaking evolutionary and pleiotropic constraints in mammals. On sloths, manatees and homeotic mutations. EvoDevo  2:11 (doi:10.1186/2041-9139-2-11)

Ploeger, A., Galis, F. 2011. Evo Devo and Cognitive Science. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews 2 (4): 429-444 (doi:10.1002/wcs.137.

Ploeger, A., Raijmakers, M.E.J.,  van der Maas, H.L.J., Galis, F. 2010. The association between autism and errors in early embryogenesis. Biol. Psychiat., 67: 602-607.

Galis, F., J.W. Arntzen and R. Lande.  2010. Dollo’s Law and the irreversibility of digit loss in Bachia.  Evolution 8:2466-76 (doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2010.01042.x). 

Van Dongen, S., Ten Broek, C. M. A., L. C. D. Wijnaendts and F. Galis 2009. Fluctuating asymmetry heterogeneously reflects severe developmental disorders in human fetuses. Evolution 63:1832-44. 

Galis, F., J. A. J. Metz 2007. Evolutionary novelties: the making and breaking of pleitropic constraints. Integr. Comp. Biol. 47: 409-419.

Galis, F., van der Sluijs, I., van Dooren, T.J.M., Metz, J.A.J., Nussbaumer, M. 2007.  Do large dogs die young? J. exp. Zool. B. 308:119-126.

Galis F., T.J.M. van Dooren, Feuth, H., Ruinard, S., Witkam, A., Steigenga, M.J., Metz, J.A.J., Wijnaendts, L.C.D. (2006) Extreme selection against homeotic transformations of cervical vertebrae in humans. Evolution, 60 (12), 2643-3654. 

Galis, F.  Kundrát , M. Metz, J.A.J. (2005) Hox genes, digit identities and the theropod/bird transition. J. exp. Zool. B, 304, 198-205.

Galis, F. Metz, J.A.J. 2003. Anti-cancer selection as a source of developmental and evolutionary constraints. BioEssays 25, 1035-1039.

Galis, F., G.P. Wagner, and E. Jockusch (2003). Why is limb regeneration possible in amphibians but not in reptiles, birds and mammals? Evol. Devel. 5, 208-220.

Galis, F. , T.J.M. van Dooren and J.A.J. Metz (2002). Conservation of the segmented germband stage: robustness or pleiotropy? Trends Genet. 18 (10), 504-509.

Galis, F., van Alphen J.J.M, and J.A.J. Metz (2001). Why five fingers?  Evolutionary constraints on digit numbers. Trends Ecol. Evol.16, 637-646.

Galis, F.  and  J.A.J. Metz (2001). Testing the vulnerability of the phylotypic stage: on modularity and evolutionary conservation. J. Exp. Zool. B 291, 195-204.

Galis, F. 1999. Why do almost all mammals have seven cervical vertebrae? Developmental constraints, Hox genes and Cancer. J. exp. Zool. B 285: 19-26.

Chapman, L. J., Galis, F. & J. Shinn, 2000.  Phenotypic plasticity and the possible role of genetic assimilation. Hypoxia-induced trade-offs in the morphological traits of an African cichlid. Ecology Letters, 3: 387-393.

Galis, F. & J.A.J. Metz, 1998. Why are there so many cichlid species? Trends Ecol. Evol. 13, 1-2.

Galis, F. 1996. The application of functional morphology to evolutionary studies. Trends Ecol. Evol. 11 (3): 124-129.

Galis, F. & E.G. Drucker, 1996. Pharyngeal biting mechanics in centrarchid- and cichlid fishes: Insights into a key evolutionary innovation. J. Evol. Biol. 9: 641-670.

Alphen, J.J. M. van & F. Galis, 1983. Patch time allocation and parasitization efficiency of Asobara tabida Nees (Braconidae), a larval parasitoid of Drosophila. J. Anim. Ecol. 52, 937-925. 

More publications



Elphant skeleton (c) Joris van Alphen.

Mammals have seven cervical vertebrae, regardless of the length of the neck. Bottom left: giraffe; top right: dugong. Reproduced from Owen (1866).