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Evolutionary biomechanics is the study of evolution through the analysis of biomechanical systems. Its unique advantage is the precision with which physical constraints and performance can be predicted from first principles. Instead of reviewing the entire breadth of the biomechanical literature, a few key examples are explored in depth as vehicles for discussing fundamental concepts, analytical techniques, and evolutionary theory. Each chapter develops a conceptual theme, developing the underlying theory and techniques required for analyses in evolutionary biomechanics. Examples from terrestrial biomechanics, metabolic scaling, and bird flight are used to analyse how physics constrains the design space that natural selection is free to explore, and how adaptive evolution finds solutions to the trade-offs between multiple complex conflicting performance objectives.
Evolutionary Biomechanics is suitable for graduate level students and professional researchers in the fields of biomechanics, physiology, evolutionary biology and palaeontology. It will also be of relevance and use to researchers in the physical sciences and engineering.
6: Form and function in ight
7: Adaptation in avian wing design
8: Trade-offs: selection, phylogeny and constraint
Graham Taylor is University Lecturer in Mathematical Biology at the University of Oxford, Department of Zoology, with a particular focus on the dynamics and control of bird and insect flight.
Adrian Thomas is Professor of Biomechanics at the University of Oxford, Department of Zoology, and works on Biomechanics and Evolution, with a particular focus on animal flight and aerodynamics. He does aerodynamics consultancy work with drone and paraglider manufacturers and flies the wings he helps design.
"[...] I really enjoyed reading this book, which offers a somewhat unorthodox introduction to evolutionary biomechanics, and I hope scientists and students interested in biological adaptation will read it and become inspired to continue investigation along the road it has laid out."
– Anders Hedenström, Ibis (158), 2016