Neurological adaptations for flight - correlating form and function in the avian cerebellar flocculus

Lead Research Organisation: National Museums of Scotland
Department Name: Natural Sciences

Abstract

Living birds evolved from a flightless ancestor. The changes that eventually made flight possible not only involved modifying the theropod dinosaur body plan and evolving feathers, but also required the brain and senses to be developed to cope with life off the ground. To fly, a bird needs detailed feedback about its position in the air from its organs of balance, and also from visual information. The processing of these signals mostly occurs in a region of the brain called the flocculus, which is easy to see on a bird brain because it projects like a finger from the sides of the cerebellum. The flocculus varies greatly in size between species and, because of its function in balance, this size variation may relate to certain kinds of flying behaviour. The variation might also relate to the habitat in which a species lives, because flying in enclosed environments such as forests requires different flying skills to flying over open ground. Modern X-ray micro-CT techniques now allow us to see inside the skull of both living and fossil birds, revealing how the brain of modern birds has evolved. Using CT analysis, the size of the flocculus can be determined in dinosaurs and living and extinct birds, because its shape - and that of the brain as a whole - is impressed on the inner surface of the skull. The likelihood that flocculus size relates to flying ability has led some palaeontologists to infer flying ability for early birds such as Archaeopteryx from this structure. However, the relationship between flocculus size and flying behaviour has never been tested. It might be that the dimensions of the bony pocket that houses the flocculus are an overestimate of its size because other tissues lie between the flocculus and the bone. It might also be that the size of the flocculus is related to the overall size of the bird rather than to its flying ability or habitat preference. This project intends to test these possibilities by CT scanning the skulls of nearly 100 living species, and creating 'virtual brain models' from the internal space that housed the brain in life. The volume of the flocculus in each 'virtual brain' will be measured and analysed statistically to find out if flocculus size can be used to predict flying behaviour and/or habitat, or whether the size of the bird is the controlling factor. If strong relationships are not found we will know that palaeontologists should avoid speculating on the flying ability of extinct species based on flocculus size. Alternatively, if relationships are found, our test will have provided palaeontologists with a tool to test current ideas about the evolution of avian flight, and the transition from dinosaurs to birds.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Our Results (published in PLoS ONE: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067176) show the relative size of the cerebellar flocculus fossa (a recess in the bony wall of the brain cavity that houses the cerebellum) in birds to be unreliable as an indicator of flying ability, drawing into question assumptions made by previous authors about flying ability in fossil species based on natural and digital casts of the brain cavity. These findings have an impact on wider avian palaeontology, since scientists contesting the evolution of birds from dinosaurs have argued the enlarged flocculus fossa of bird-like theropod dinosaurs indicates these taxa are secondarily flightless birds. We demonstrated this line of evidence cannot be used to test this hypothesis.

We did find a weak correlation between flying ability and flocculus fossa size, but the flocculus had been expected to increase in size with improving aerial manoeuvrability. In fact it decreased in size with increasing manoeuvrability and was actually largest in flightless birds. This result suggests that the flocculus may be less important for avian flight than generally assumed, and may be more important for postural control and terrestrial locomotion, as suggested by the expanded flocculus in most flightless birds. If so, the bird and theropod dinosaur-like expansion of the flocculus may actually relate to evolution of bipedal locomotion, a possibility supported by the relatively small size of the flocculus in living quadrupedal reptiles. Further support comes from the morphology of the vestibular system (inner ear) in quadrupedal and bipedal archosauromorphs (reptiles closely related to birds, crocodile and dinosaurs); the rostral semicircular canal in birds and theropod dinosaurs is much larger (and thus more sensitive to pitching motion) than in crocodiles and quadrupedal dinosaurs. This relationship has been suggested to relate to control of head pitch during bipedal locomotion. We suggest that the evolution of flight in pterosaurs and birds may partly have been made possible because bipedality is inherently unstable and requires increased neural capacity for postural control, capacity that could also be used in aerial locomotion.
Exploitation Route The project is intended to be included in an exhibition about the evolution of birds and avian flight at National Museums Scotland. The results of the project have been central to public talks planned for the last few years.

Pointers to new research: Our findings highlight gaps in existing knowledge about flocculus function and structure in extant reptiles (principally squamates and crocodiles), and indicate new research avenues centring on the relationship of flocculus size to the evolution of bipedality in Archosauromorpha. This question will be the subject of a larger future project.

Avoiding wasted research effort: The results also provide empirical evidence that inferences about locomotion in fossil taxa based on the relative size of the floccular fossa should not be made until more is known about the function of the flocculus in living groups and the relative occupancy of neural versus vascular tissue in the fossa. This latter aspect is something that was highlighted as a research priority at the NESCent meeting this year (2014).

Existing data set: The project generated more bird skull scans than were used in the analysis. These are currently being worked up as collaborative projects as well as undergraduate and masters-level student dissertation projects, which are intended to be of publishable quality. I have made data freely available on request regardless of whether I am on the authorship of papers resulting from those projects.
Sectors Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Other

URL http://www.nms.ac.uk/collections__research/collections_departments/natural_sciences/dr_stig_walsh.aspx
 
Description The results of the project and data collected as part of the project have already been influential. Our results have been re-tested by a Portugese team (Castanhina et al.) who have also conducted a similar analysis of floccular fossa size and activity with mammals. Some proponents of the use of the size of the floccular fossa for locomotor adaptations (e.g., in pterosaurs) have not accepted our findings, but the results of the Portugese team with birds and mammals have corroborated our results. One major outcome of NE/H012176/1 is that Walsh was invited to take part in an international NSF-funded NESCent meeting on the avian brain. The project results were discussed extensively. The NESCent meeting has led to a new project on X-ray micro-CT techniques by Walsh and collaborators, and will involve a further two technical publications. Most importantly, the results of the project have led to other teams (present at the NESCent meeting) pursuing projects that test the limits of inferences that can be drawn from brain cavity morphology and birds. Data collected as part of the project have been used in four other international collaborative projects, the results of which are currently in the process of being written up.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Other
 
Description Open data policy
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Data generated from this project and the analysis of these data have fed into a large consortium paper (Davies et al. 2017: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2017.0194) recommending changes to data sharing policy and copyright practice. As digital biological morphology has become commonplace in organismal science, policy regarding its use and reuse has not kept pace with scientific practice. Our open paper sets out suggestions for future practice, and has implications for scientific research as well as data use for manufacturing and public entertainment and education.
 
Description A Deeper Look into the Avian Brain: Using Modern Imaging to Unlock Ancient Endocasts 
Organisation American Museum of Natural History
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Walsh is an invited scientist at a Catalysis meeting involving the main researchers working on avian brain evolution and comparative neurology, funded by The United States National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). The meeting will be held between May 12th and 16th, and is intended to share data and approaches with a view to shaping the future of avian palaeoneurology.
Collaborator Contribution Data, expertise, analysis.
Impact None to date - dedicated volume of Journal of Anatomy planned for 2015 (MSS submission January 2015), which will include two papers stemming from NE/H012176/1. Second project co-led by Walsh and Bever (AMNH) will test methods used in micro-CT analysis of brain cavity endocasts to find best practice. This project is underway.
Start Year 2014
 
Description A Deeper Look into the Avian Brain: Using Modern Imaging to Unlock Ancient Endocasts 
Organisation Canterbury Museum
Country New Zealand 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Walsh is an invited scientist at a Catalysis meeting involving the main researchers working on avian brain evolution and comparative neurology, funded by The United States National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). The meeting will be held between May 12th and 16th, and is intended to share data and approaches with a view to shaping the future of avian palaeoneurology.
Collaborator Contribution Data, expertise, analysis.
Impact None to date - dedicated volume of Journal of Anatomy planned for 2015 (MSS submission January 2015), which will include two papers stemming from NE/H012176/1. Second project co-led by Walsh and Bever (AMNH) will test methods used in micro-CT analysis of brain cavity endocasts to find best practice. This project is underway.
Start Year 2014
 
Description A Deeper Look into the Avian Brain: Using Modern Imaging to Unlock Ancient Endocasts 
Organisation Centre for Research in Earth Sciences (CICTERRA)
Country Argentina 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Walsh is an invited scientist at a Catalysis meeting involving the main researchers working on avian brain evolution and comparative neurology, funded by The United States National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). The meeting will be held between May 12th and 16th, and is intended to share data and approaches with a view to shaping the future of avian palaeoneurology.
Collaborator Contribution Data, expertise, analysis.
Impact None to date - dedicated volume of Journal of Anatomy planned for 2015 (MSS submission January 2015), which will include two papers stemming from NE/H012176/1. Second project co-led by Walsh and Bever (AMNH) will test methods used in micro-CT analysis of brain cavity endocasts to find best practice. This project is underway.
Start Year 2014
 
Description A Deeper Look into the Avian Brain: Using Modern Imaging to Unlock Ancient Endocasts 
Organisation Duke University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Walsh is an invited scientist at a Catalysis meeting involving the main researchers working on avian brain evolution and comparative neurology, funded by The United States National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). The meeting will be held between May 12th and 16th, and is intended to share data and approaches with a view to shaping the future of avian palaeoneurology.
Collaborator Contribution Data, expertise, analysis.
Impact None to date - dedicated volume of Journal of Anatomy planned for 2015 (MSS submission January 2015), which will include two papers stemming from NE/H012176/1. Second project co-led by Walsh and Bever (AMNH) will test methods used in micro-CT analysis of brain cavity endocasts to find best practice. This project is underway.
Start Year 2014
 
Description A Deeper Look into the Avian Brain: Using Modern Imaging to Unlock Ancient Endocasts 
Organisation Harvard University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Walsh is an invited scientist at a Catalysis meeting involving the main researchers working on avian brain evolution and comparative neurology, funded by The United States National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). The meeting will be held between May 12th and 16th, and is intended to share data and approaches with a view to shaping the future of avian palaeoneurology.
Collaborator Contribution Data, expertise, analysis.
Impact None to date - dedicated volume of Journal of Anatomy planned for 2015 (MSS submission January 2015), which will include two papers stemming from NE/H012176/1. Second project co-led by Walsh and Bever (AMNH) will test methods used in micro-CT analysis of brain cavity endocasts to find best practice. This project is underway.
Start Year 2014
 
Description A Deeper Look into the Avian Brain: Using Modern Imaging to Unlock Ancient Endocasts 
Organisation Natural History Museum
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Walsh is an invited scientist at a Catalysis meeting involving the main researchers working on avian brain evolution and comparative neurology, funded by The United States National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). The meeting will be held between May 12th and 16th, and is intended to share data and approaches with a view to shaping the future of avian palaeoneurology.
Collaborator Contribution Data, expertise, analysis.
Impact None to date - dedicated volume of Journal of Anatomy planned for 2015 (MSS submission January 2015), which will include two papers stemming from NE/H012176/1. Second project co-led by Walsh and Bever (AMNH) will test methods used in micro-CT analysis of brain cavity endocasts to find best practice. This project is underway.
Start Year 2014
 
Description A Deeper Look into the Avian Brain: Using Modern Imaging to Unlock Ancient Endocasts 
Organisation Natural History Museum, Los Angeles County
Country United States 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Walsh is an invited scientist at a Catalysis meeting involving the main researchers working on avian brain evolution and comparative neurology, funded by The United States National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). The meeting will be held between May 12th and 16th, and is intended to share data and approaches with a view to shaping the future of avian palaeoneurology.
Collaborator Contribution Data, expertise, analysis.
Impact None to date - dedicated volume of Journal of Anatomy planned for 2015 (MSS submission January 2015), which will include two papers stemming from NE/H012176/1. Second project co-led by Walsh and Bever (AMNH) will test methods used in micro-CT analysis of brain cavity endocasts to find best practice. This project is underway.
Start Year 2014
 
Description A Deeper Look into the Avian Brain: Using Modern Imaging to Unlock Ancient Endocasts 
Organisation Ohio State University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Walsh is an invited scientist at a Catalysis meeting involving the main researchers working on avian brain evolution and comparative neurology, funded by The United States National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). The meeting will be held between May 12th and 16th, and is intended to share data and approaches with a view to shaping the future of avian palaeoneurology.
Collaborator Contribution Data, expertise, analysis.
Impact None to date - dedicated volume of Journal of Anatomy planned for 2015 (MSS submission January 2015), which will include two papers stemming from NE/H012176/1. Second project co-led by Walsh and Bever (AMNH) will test methods used in micro-CT analysis of brain cavity endocasts to find best practice. This project is underway.
Start Year 2014
 
Description A Deeper Look into the Avian Brain: Using Modern Imaging to Unlock Ancient Endocasts 
Organisation Oklahoma State University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Walsh is an invited scientist at a Catalysis meeting involving the main researchers working on avian brain evolution and comparative neurology, funded by The United States National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). The meeting will be held between May 12th and 16th, and is intended to share data and approaches with a view to shaping the future of avian palaeoneurology.
Collaborator Contribution Data, expertise, analysis.
Impact None to date - dedicated volume of Journal of Anatomy planned for 2015 (MSS submission January 2015), which will include two papers stemming from NE/H012176/1. Second project co-led by Walsh and Bever (AMNH) will test methods used in micro-CT analysis of brain cavity endocasts to find best practice. This project is underway.
Start Year 2014
 
Description A Deeper Look into the Avian Brain: Using Modern Imaging to Unlock Ancient Endocasts 
Organisation Stony Brook University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Walsh is an invited scientist at a Catalysis meeting involving the main researchers working on avian brain evolution and comparative neurology, funded by The United States National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). The meeting will be held between May 12th and 16th, and is intended to share data and approaches with a view to shaping the future of avian palaeoneurology.
Collaborator Contribution Data, expertise, analysis.
Impact None to date - dedicated volume of Journal of Anatomy planned for 2015 (MSS submission January 2015), which will include two papers stemming from NE/H012176/1. Second project co-led by Walsh and Bever (AMNH) will test methods used in micro-CT analysis of brain cavity endocasts to find best practice. This project is underway.
Start Year 2014
 
Description A Deeper Look into the Avian Brain: Using Modern Imaging to Unlock Ancient Endocasts 
Organisation University of Copenhagen
Country Denmark 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Walsh is an invited scientist at a Catalysis meeting involving the main researchers working on avian brain evolution and comparative neurology, funded by The United States National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). The meeting will be held between May 12th and 16th, and is intended to share data and approaches with a view to shaping the future of avian palaeoneurology.
Collaborator Contribution Data, expertise, analysis.
Impact None to date - dedicated volume of Journal of Anatomy planned for 2015 (MSS submission January 2015), which will include two papers stemming from NE/H012176/1. Second project co-led by Walsh and Bever (AMNH) will test methods used in micro-CT analysis of brain cavity endocasts to find best practice. This project is underway.
Start Year 2014
 
Description A Deeper Look into the Avian Brain: Using Modern Imaging to Unlock Ancient Endocasts 
Organisation University of Lethbridge
Country Canada 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Walsh is an invited scientist at a Catalysis meeting involving the main researchers working on avian brain evolution and comparative neurology, funded by The United States National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). The meeting will be held between May 12th and 16th, and is intended to share data and approaches with a view to shaping the future of avian palaeoneurology.
Collaborator Contribution Data, expertise, analysis.
Impact None to date - dedicated volume of Journal of Anatomy planned for 2015 (MSS submission January 2015), which will include two papers stemming from NE/H012176/1. Second project co-led by Walsh and Bever (AMNH) will test methods used in micro-CT analysis of brain cavity endocasts to find best practice. This project is underway.
Start Year 2014
 
Description A Deeper Look into the Avian Brain: Using Modern Imaging to Unlock Ancient Endocasts 
Organisation University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Walsh is an invited scientist at a Catalysis meeting involving the main researchers working on avian brain evolution and comparative neurology, funded by The United States National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). The meeting will be held between May 12th and 16th, and is intended to share data and approaches with a view to shaping the future of avian palaeoneurology.
Collaborator Contribution Data, expertise, analysis.
Impact None to date - dedicated volume of Journal of Anatomy planned for 2015 (MSS submission January 2015), which will include two papers stemming from NE/H012176/1. Second project co-led by Walsh and Bever (AMNH) will test methods used in micro-CT analysis of brain cavity endocasts to find best practice. This project is underway.
Start Year 2014
 
Description A Deeper Look into the Avian Brain: Using Modern Imaging to Unlock Ancient Endocasts 
Organisation University of San Diego
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Walsh is an invited scientist at a Catalysis meeting involving the main researchers working on avian brain evolution and comparative neurology, funded by The United States National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). The meeting will be held between May 12th and 16th, and is intended to share data and approaches with a view to shaping the future of avian palaeoneurology.
Collaborator Contribution Data, expertise, analysis.
Impact None to date - dedicated volume of Journal of Anatomy planned for 2015 (MSS submission January 2015), which will include two papers stemming from NE/H012176/1. Second project co-led by Walsh and Bever (AMNH) will test methods used in micro-CT analysis of brain cavity endocasts to find best practice. This project is underway.
Start Year 2014
 
Description A Deeper Look into the Avian Brain: Using Modern Imaging to Unlock Ancient Endocasts 
Organisation University of Texas at Austin
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Walsh is an invited scientist at a Catalysis meeting involving the main researchers working on avian brain evolution and comparative neurology, funded by The United States National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). The meeting will be held between May 12th and 16th, and is intended to share data and approaches with a view to shaping the future of avian palaeoneurology.
Collaborator Contribution Data, expertise, analysis.
Impact None to date - dedicated volume of Journal of Anatomy planned for 2015 (MSS submission January 2015), which will include two papers stemming from NE/H012176/1. Second project co-led by Walsh and Bever (AMNH) will test methods used in micro-CT analysis of brain cavity endocasts to find best practice. This project is underway.
Start Year 2014
 
Description A Deeper Look into the Avian Brain: Using Modern Imaging to Unlock Ancient Endocasts 
Organisation Yale University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Walsh is an invited scientist at a Catalysis meeting involving the main researchers working on avian brain evolution and comparative neurology, funded by The United States National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). The meeting will be held between May 12th and 16th, and is intended to share data and approaches with a view to shaping the future of avian palaeoneurology.
Collaborator Contribution Data, expertise, analysis.
Impact None to date - dedicated volume of Journal of Anatomy planned for 2015 (MSS submission January 2015), which will include two papers stemming from NE/H012176/1. Second project co-led by Walsh and Bever (AMNH) will test methods used in micro-CT analysis of brain cavity endocasts to find best practice. This project is underway.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Charadriiform brain evolution 
Organisation Canterbury Museum
Country New Zealand 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Brain cavity endocast data generated from NE/H012176/1 is being used as part of a wide international collaboration investigating brain form in the diverse avian clade Charadriiformes.
Collaborator Contribution Extra micro-CT and brain cavity endocast data; analysis.
Impact None.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Charadriiform brain evolution 
Organisation National Science Foundation (NSF)
Department National Evolutionary Synthesis Center
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Brain cavity endocast data generated from NE/H012176/1 is being used as part of a wide international collaboration investigating brain form in the diverse avian clade Charadriiformes.
Collaborator Contribution Extra micro-CT and brain cavity endocast data; analysis.
Impact None.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Charadriiform brain evolution 
Organisation Natural History Museum of Basel
Country Switzerland 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Brain cavity endocast data generated from NE/H012176/1 is being used as part of a wide international collaboration investigating brain form in the diverse avian clade Charadriiformes.
Collaborator Contribution Extra micro-CT and brain cavity endocast data; analysis.
Impact None.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Charadriiform brain evolution 
Organisation University of Copenhagen
Department Natural History Museum of Denmark
Country Denmark 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Brain cavity endocast data generated from NE/H012176/1 is being used as part of a wide international collaboration investigating brain form in the diverse avian clade Charadriiformes.
Collaborator Contribution Extra micro-CT and brain cavity endocast data; analysis.
Impact None.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Charadriiform brain evolution 
Organisation University of Texas
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Brain cavity endocast data generated from NE/H012176/1 is being used as part of a wide international collaboration investigating brain form in the diverse avian clade Charadriiformes.
Collaborator Contribution Extra micro-CT and brain cavity endocast data; analysis.
Impact None.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Charadriiform brain evolution 
Organisation University of Texas at Austin
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Brain cavity endocast data generated from NE/H012176/1 is being used as part of a wide international collaboration investigating brain form in the diverse avian clade Charadriiformes.
Collaborator Contribution Extra micro-CT and brain cavity endocast data; analysis.
Impact None.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Charadriiform brain evolution 
Organisation University of Tokyo
Country Japan 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Brain cavity endocast data generated from NE/H012176/1 is being used as part of a wide international collaboration investigating brain form in the diverse avian clade Charadriiformes.
Collaborator Contribution Extra micro-CT and brain cavity endocast data; analysis.
Impact None.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Combining comparative data from avian and mammal CT datasets 
Organisation Lourinhã Museum
Department Gulbenkian Institute of Science
Country Portugal 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Walsh was invited to collaborate on a project that uses Walsh's approaches on fossil cynodonts (extinct mammal relatives). Endocasts generated as part of NE/H012176/1 have been sent as part of this collaboration in STL format.
Collaborator Contribution Data collection and analysis.
Impact One conference proceeding abstract and one journal article: DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-01981-0.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Pterosaur brain anatomy 
Organisation University of Portsmouth
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Expertise, computing and analysis, comparative avian dataset from NE/H012176/1.
Collaborator Contribution Pterosaur scan datasets.
Impact None so far; collaboration is within palaeontology (not multi-disciplinary).
Start Year 2013
 
Description Roger Benson 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Department of Earth Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Sharing of the micro-CT dataset generated as part of the original NERC project. Data have been analysed by a final year project student and will be published.
Collaborator Contribution Authorship.
Impact Manuscript is preparation.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Scottish Tomography Research Network 
Organisation Edinburgh Napier University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Walsh and Nick Fraser (Keeper of Natural Sciences, NMS) are part of a user group involving a growing number of institutions in Scotland that is working towards applying for grant funding to set up a network of centres specialising in specific kinds of CT analysis. Ultimately the group's aim is to purchase a number of scanning machines that are specialised for the group members individual interests (primarily 4D geological applications including petrochemical exploration, palaeontology, soil science and mineralogy). Currently participating institutions comprise National Museums Scotland (visualisation, 3D printing); University of Edinburgh (scanning, supercomputing and visualisation) and the University of Abertay (scanning, visualisation). Staff at Heriot-Watt and Glasgow University are also interested in becoming involved in the consortium. NMS involvement was made possible through equipment bought as part of NE/H012176/1.
Collaborator Contribution Offer of X-ray CT scan time, supercomputing facilities, software development.
Impact None so far.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Scottish Tomography Research Network 
Organisation University of Abertay Dundee
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Walsh and Nick Fraser (Keeper of Natural Sciences, NMS) are part of a user group involving a growing number of institutions in Scotland that is working towards applying for grant funding to set up a network of centres specialising in specific kinds of CT analysis. Ultimately the group's aim is to purchase a number of scanning machines that are specialised for the group members individual interests (primarily 4D geological applications including petrochemical exploration, palaeontology, soil science and mineralogy). Currently participating institutions comprise National Museums Scotland (visualisation, 3D printing); University of Edinburgh (scanning, supercomputing and visualisation) and the University of Abertay (scanning, visualisation). Staff at Heriot-Watt and Glasgow University are also interested in becoming involved in the consortium. NMS involvement was made possible through equipment bought as part of NE/H012176/1.
Collaborator Contribution Offer of X-ray CT scan time, supercomputing facilities, software development.
Impact None so far.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Scottish Tomography Research Network 
Organisation University of Edinburgh
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Walsh and Nick Fraser (Keeper of Natural Sciences, NMS) are part of a user group involving a growing number of institutions in Scotland that is working towards applying for grant funding to set up a network of centres specialising in specific kinds of CT analysis. Ultimately the group's aim is to purchase a number of scanning machines that are specialised for the group members individual interests (primarily 4D geological applications including petrochemical exploration, palaeontology, soil science and mineralogy). Currently participating institutions comprise National Museums Scotland (visualisation, 3D printing); University of Edinburgh (scanning, supercomputing and visualisation) and the University of Abertay (scanning, visualisation). Staff at Heriot-Watt and Glasgow University are also interested in becoming involved in the consortium. NMS involvement was made possible through equipment bought as part of NE/H012176/1.
Collaborator Contribution Offer of X-ray CT scan time, supercomputing facilities, software development.
Impact None so far.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Scottish Tomography Research Network 
Organisation University of Glasgow
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Walsh and Nick Fraser (Keeper of Natural Sciences, NMS) are part of a user group involving a growing number of institutions in Scotland that is working towards applying for grant funding to set up a network of centres specialising in specific kinds of CT analysis. Ultimately the group's aim is to purchase a number of scanning machines that are specialised for the group members individual interests (primarily 4D geological applications including petrochemical exploration, palaeontology, soil science and mineralogy). Currently participating institutions comprise National Museums Scotland (visualisation, 3D printing); University of Edinburgh (scanning, supercomputing and visualisation) and the University of Abertay (scanning, visualisation). Staff at Heriot-Watt and Glasgow University are also interested in becoming involved in the consortium. NMS involvement was made possible through equipment bought as part of NE/H012176/1.
Collaborator Contribution Offer of X-ray CT scan time, supercomputing facilities, software development.
Impact None so far.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Testing the Expensive Tissue Hypothesis 
Organisation Bournemouth University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Comparative corvid dataset (from NE/H012176/1), expertise, computing, analysis.
Collaborator Contribution MRi and X-ray CT scanning of corvids, analysis, expertise.
Impact None so far. Collaboration is multi-disciplinary (palaeoneurology and avian biology).
Start Year 2009
 
Description Thalattosuchian braincase 
Organisation University of Edinburgh
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Walsh was invited to act as Co-I on aproject investigating the systematics and neurosensory development in Thalattosuchia, an enigmatic clade of Mesozoic marine crocodylomorphs, submitted to NERC. The project was not funded, but the research is still planned to go ahead.
Collaborator Contribution Comparative data; expertise.
Impact None so far.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Bird Brain Evolution in a (empty) nutshell (National Museums Scotland research seminar) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This talk led to Walsh being invited to talk at the Royal Scottish Society of Arts in 2014.

Increased awareness of science conducted at NMS.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Exhibition: Dinosaurs Take Flight 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This exhibition is marked as a priority but has yet to be allocated a slot for the museum exhibitions schedule.

None so far.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Extinction debate 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Related to the Zoo-Night talk, Edinburgh Zoo invited three Scotland-based palaeontologists to talk about the K-Pg extinction. My contribution was to talk about possible bird survival of the extinction based on cognitive ability and brain size.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Platform presentation at the Symposium for Vertebrate Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Talked sparked discussion after the session.

No unusual impact.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://svpca.org/years/2014_york/index.php
 
Description Public lecture (Royal Scottish Society of Arts) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Probably the most questions I have ever received - some excellent feedback. The talk clearly challenged entrenched ideas.

Some members of the audience requested a tour of the NMS facility - still to be arranged.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.rssa.org.uk/20140929.shtml
 
Description University of the Third Age peresentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Approximately 40 people attended - mostly science-engaged older adults who asked some insightful questions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://u3asites.org.uk/edinburgh/home
 
Description Zoo-night presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Invited talk given at one of Edinburgh Zoo's 'Zoo Night' events. The audience was formed from the general public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015