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Anatomy and Paleontology

I am a comparative anatomist by training, and my main research areas are vertebrate paleontology and human anatomy. Along with my coauthor and colleague Mike Taylor, I blog about paleontology and anatomy at Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week.

In my spare time I enjoy stargazing, and I write the monthly Binocular Highlights column and the occasional feature article for Sky & Telescope magazine.


  • Research Areas

    Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy

    As a paleontologist I have mostly worked on long-necked sauropod dinosaurs and the evolution of air-filled bones in dinosaurs and birds. I’m also interested in the evolution of heads and necks in vertebrates, and in the nervous systems of very large animals. I’ve been fortunate to coauthor three papers naming new dinosaurs: the sauropods Sauroposeidon (2000) and Brontomerus (2011), and the early horned dinosaur Aquilops (2014). In 2016 my book The Sauropod Dinosaurs: Life in the Age of Giants, with artist and lead author Mark Hallett, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press. I currently do fieldwork in the Late Jurassic Morrison Formation in Utah and the Oklahoma Panhandle.

    Human Anatomy

    In the arena of human anatomy, I’m particularly interested in variation in the nerves and muscles of the lower extremity, and in structures derived from the embryonic pharyngeal arches. I regularly mentor WesternU students in anatomy-based research projects.


    Diagram of a new variation of the obturator nerve, first discovered in the anatomy lab at WesternU


    Dr. Wedel with a cast of a humerus of Brachiosaurus

  • Publications

    Recent Publications

    Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy

    Recent papers:

    Taylor, M.P., and Wedel, M.J. 2021. Why is vertebral pneumaticity in sauropod dinosaurs so variable? Qeios. doi:10.32388/1G6J3Q.

    Hone, D.W.E., Farke, A.A., and Wedel, M.J. 2016. Ontogeny and the fossil record: what, if anything, is an adult dinosaur? Biology Letters 2016 12 20150947; DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2015.0947.

    Kraatz, B.P., Sherratt, E., Bumacod, N., and Wedel, M.J. 2015. Ecological correlates to cranial morphology in leporids (Mammalia, Lagomorpha).PeerJ, 3:e844.

    Foster, J.R., and Wedel, M.J. 2014. Haplocanthosaurus (Saurischia: Sauropoda) from the lower Morrison Formation (Upper Jurassic) near Snowmass, Colorado. Volumina Jurassica 12(2): 197–210. DOI: 10.5604/17313708 .1130144

    Farke, A.A., Maxwell, W.D., Cifelli, R.L., and Wedel, M.J. 2014. A ceratopsian dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of Western North America, and the biogeography of Neoceratopsia. PLoS ONE 9(12): e112055. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112055

    Recent abstracts:

    Woodruff, C., Wolff, E., Wedel, M.J., Witmer, L. 2020. Sauro-throat: the first occurrence of a respiratory infection in a non-avian dinosaur. Society of Vertebrate Paleontology 80th Annual Meeting, Abstracts, p. 298.

    Dooley, A.C., Radford, D., Wedel, M.J., Atterholt, J., Nalley, T. 2020. “Broader Impacts”, an exhibit program focusing on basic research. Society of Vertebrate Paleontology 80th Annual Meeting, Abstracts, p. 70.

    Wedel, M., Foster, J., Engh, B., and Hunt-Foster, R. 2020. In the footsteps of giants: finding and excavating new fossils of Brachiosaurus from the Lower Morrison Formation of Utah. Burpee Museum of Natural History PaleoFest 2020 Event Program, p. 35.

    Taylor, M., and Wedel, M. 2019. The past, present, and future of Jensen’s Big Three sauropods. 67th Symposium on Vertebrate Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy, Abstracts, p. 14.

    Atterholt, J., and Wedel, M. 2019. Neural canal ridges: a novel osteological correlate of post-cranial neurology in dinosaurs. 67th Symposium on Vertebrate Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy, Abstracts, p. 3.

    Weil, A., Wedel, M.J., and O’Brien, H.D. 2019. First occurrence of distal caudal pneumaticity in an apatosaurine sauropod suggests homoplasy of distal pneumatic diverticula throughout Neosauropoda. Journal of Morphology 280, Issue S1: International Congress of Vertebrate Morphology abstracts, S236-S237.

    Human Anatomy

    Recent papers:

    Staples, B., Ennedy, E., Kim, T., Nguyen, S., Shore, A., Vu, T., Labovitz, J., and Wedel, M. 2019. Cutaneous branch of the obturator nerve extending to the medial ankle and foot: a report of two cadaveric cases. Journal of Foot & Ankle Surgery 58(6): 1267-1272.

    Penera, K., Manji, K., Wedel, M., Shofler, D., and Labovitz, J. 2014. Ankle syndesmotic fixation using two screws: Risk of injury to the Perforating Branch of the Peroneal Artery. The Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery 53(5):534-8. DOI: 10.1053/j.jfas.2014.04.006

    Recent abstracts:

    Kramer, A.M., Schneider, A.A., Bustos, L.N., Chin, D., Shapiro, J., and Wedel, M.J. 2020. Peroneocalcaneus muscle and other anomalous variants in the lateral compartment of the lower extremity: a cadaveric case report. American Podiatric Medical Association Annual Scientific Meeting, Program.

    Wedel, M. 2019. How to make new discoveries in (human) anatomy. 67th Symposium on

    Vertebrate Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy, Abstracts, p. 15.

    Wireman, G., Glass, E., Wedel, M., Cornelison, M., Chin, D., and Kramer, A. 2019. The incidence and classification of the peroneus tertius, peroneus quartus & peroneus digiti quinti: a cadaveric study. American Podiatric Medical Association Annual Scientific Meeting, Program.

    Snyder, S.G., Wedel, M., and Truong, J.B. 2019. Description and comparison of bilateral variations of the soleus accessorius muscle in a cadaver. American Association of Clinical Anatomists, 36th Annual Meeting Proceedings, p. 57.

    CV with links to publications

    Google Scholar profile


    Portrait of MATHEW WEDEL, PhD


    College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific

    Associate Professor of Anatomy