Research Lines

The application of computer simulation techniques in the study of the vertebrates remained unexplored until the late 90’s due to the complexity of the biological geometry and its high computational cost. Fortunately, the rapidly falling prices of computers and the exponential increase in computational capacity during the years facilitated the use of techniques from the computational mechanics such Finite Element Analysis (FEA) or Multibody Dynamics Analysis (MDA) in estimating the performance of vertebrate skeletal and soft tissues. Vertebrate palaeontologists also found in the non-invasive techniques, such as computed tomography (CT), a useful tool to generate accurate three-dimensional images of living structures in a Reverse Engineering process, enabling the possibility of doing these kinds of studies at present. Although FEA or MDA is common in engineering and biomedicine for more than 30 years, only recently it has been applied in biological research to address questions about biomechanics and evolution of living and extinct vertebrates modelling simplified 2D models or creating high-resolution 3D models.


As my first adscription, part of the work I am developing in the University of Hamburg is the creation of biomechanal models of primate jaws to study its implication in diet and tooth morphology. Using FEA and classical biomechanics.

Working with researchers from the Institut Català de Paleontologia “Miquel Crusafont”, Sabadell/Universitat Auntònoma (Catalonia), from the University of Manchester (UK) and from the Universidad de la Republica, Montevideo (Uruguay) we created FEA models of several jaws from cingulata, primates or other mammal orders.


Main Related publications:

Serrano-Fochs, S. [et al.] Finite Element Analysis of the Cingulata jaw an ecomorphological approach to armadillo’s diet. Plos One. 2015 (url)

Marcé-Nogué, J. [et al.] “A biomechanical approach to understand the ecomorphological relationship between primate mandibles and diet”. Scientific Reports. 2017. (url)


Working with researchers from the Institut Català de Paleontologia “Miquel Crusafont”, Sabadell/Universitat Auntònoma (Catalonia) and from the Muséum National d´Histoire Nautrell Paris (France) we created FEA models of several amphibians and reptiles such as the livinf Andrias davidianus, Dicamptodon ensatus or Alligator mississipiensis or the extinct Edingerella madagascariensis and Stanocephalosaurus birdi to study its biomechanical behaviour.

Comparison between the models of bilateral bite in different animals. From left to right, the extant giant salamander of California, two extinct temnospondyls and an alligator. In red, the areas that present more stress during the biting (Josep Fortuny / ICP)

Main Related publications:

Fortuny, J. [et al.] “Comparative 3D analyses and palaeoecology of giant early amphibians (Temnospondyli: Stereospondyli)” Scientific Reports. 2016. (url)

Zhou, Z. [et al.] “Cranial biomechanics in basal urodeles: the Siberian salamander (Salamandrella keyserlingii) and its evolutionary and developmental implications”. Scientific Reports. 2017. (url)

Marcé-Nogué, J. [et al.] 3D computational mechanics elucidate the evolutionary implications of orbit position and size diversity of early amphibians. Plos One. 2015 (url)


Working with researchers from Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (Catalonia) and Institut Català de Paleontologia “Miquel Crusafont”, Sabadell/Universitat Auntònoma (Catalonia) we are developing comparative methodologies to use in the context of vertebrate paleontology when using FEA.

Screenshot 2016-09-05 11.32.23

Main Related publications:

Marcé-Nogué, J. [et al]. “Accounting for differences in element size and homogeneity when comparing Finite Element models: Armadillos as a case study” Paleontologia Electronica. 2016. (url)

Gil. LL. [et al] Insights into the controversy over materials data for the comparison of biomechanical performance in vertebrates. Paleontologia electronica. 2015. (url).

Marcé-Nogué, J. [et al.] Quasi-homothetic transformation for comparing the mechanical performance of planar models in biological research. Palaeontologia Electronica. 2013. (url).