Sandy Madar, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology
Director, Strategic Academic Initiatives

B.S., University of Michigan
Ph.D., Northeast Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Kent State University

214 Gerstacker Hall
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  • University of Michigan (Anthropology and Zoology), B.S.
  • Northeast Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Kent State University (Anthropology and Zoology), Ph.D.

Courses Taught

  • Animal Physiology
  • Vertebrate Anatomy
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Introduction to Zoology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Evolution
  • The Science of Being Human
  • Human Variation

Research Interests

I am an anatomist and a paleontologist, interested in the functional morphology of mammals. In other words, I study animal locomotion and how it determined the life style of extinct groups, including diet, prey capture, and habitat usage. My dissertation work focused on 10-million year old apes from Pakistan that were at one time considered human ancestors, and are now somewhat contentiously considered relatives of the modern orangutan. Most recently I have been studying the earliest whales - four legged carnivores that made the transition from living exclusively on land to living in rivers and oceans more than 50-million years ago. Both of these projects have taken me to Pakistan for fieldwork, as this country's position at the foothills of the Himalayan mountains made it an ideal place to preserve fossils from both time periods.

Current Research Including Hiram Undergraduates

  • Brooke Horning ('97) Reduction of the sacroiliac joint surface area in secondarily aquatic modern mammals. Her work with seals and otters is being incorporated into a publication describing the newly recovered pelvis (ilium) of the earliest whale, the 50 million year old Ambulocetus natans, "the walking whale swims."
  • Megan McMullen ('00) Brain expansion in Cetacea (whales): sensory adaptations for living in an aquatic environment. This is a pilot project that will examine the comparative anatomy of living species prior to examining the endocasts (brain casts) of fossil whales to determine at what point of their evolutionary history whales obtained the ability to echolocate.
  • Katie Cicora ('00) Dietary analysis of early whales based on coprolite analysis. This study will examine fossilized dung from 50 million year old fossil localities in Pakistan to determine whether the material is mammalian, and whether coprolites preserve evidence of diet. Knowing the diet of an animal tells you a great deal about the behavior of the organism and its adaptations to the environment.
  • Jilian Riley ('00) Compensatory curvature of the lower back in individuals with Scheuermann's thoracic kyphosis. This paper will describe a subset of humans with abnormally large kyphosis that exhibit a different localization of their kyphosis than is typically described in the clinical literature. It will discuss the results of their spinal deformity on the remainder of the vertebral column, particularly the lumbar region.

Selected Publications

  • Madar, SI (in press). Structural adaptations of early archaeocete long bones. In The Emergence of Whales, JGM Thewissen, ed. New York, Plenum Press.
  • Thewissen, JGM; Hussain ST; Arif, M; Aslan, A; Madar, SI; Roe, LJ (submitted). The origin of the modern orders of mammals within the context of Paleogene deposition in Northern Pakistan. In The Siwaliks of South Asia. The Records of the Geological Survey of Pakistan, Quetta.
  • Thewissen, JGM; Madar, SI; Hussain ST; Ganz, E (1997). Fossil yak (Bos grunniens: Artiodactyla, Mammalia) from the Himalayas of Pakistan. Kirtlandia. 50:11-16.
  • Thewissen, JGM; Madar, SI, and Hussain, ST (1996). Ambulocetus natans, an Eocene cetacean (Mammalia) from Pakistan. Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg. 191:1-86.
  • Scoles, PV; Latimer, B; DiGiovanni, BF; Vargo, E; Bauza, S; and Jellemma, LM (1990). Vertebral alterations in Scheuermann's kyphosis. Spine. 16:509-515.
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