Assistant Professor
email
Campbell Hall 165
(205) 934-4695

Research and Teaching Interests: Human anatomy, human and vertebrate morphology

Winston Lancaster. Office Hours: By appointment

Education:
  • BS, Auburn University, Zoology
  • MS, Louisiana State University, Geology (Vertebrate Paleontology)
  • PhD, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Human Anatomy

Winston Lancaster earned a BS in Zoology from Auburn University and an MS in Vertebrate Paleontology from the Department of Geology at Louisiana State University. His thesis research focused on archaeocete whales. After graduation he continued working on fossil whales as a preparator of vertebrate fossils at the Red Mountain Museum in Birmingham, Alabama, and also worked as a fossil preparatpry at the Idaho Museum of Natural History in Pocatello. He earned a PhD in Anatomy from the University of North Carolina pursuing his dissertation research on the functional morphology of respiration and vocalization in bats.

He pursued postdoctoral research at the University of Aberdeen (UK) on the physiological cost of biosonar vocalization in bats and Göteborg University (Sweden), where he studied predator-prey interactions and the way that moths avoid being eaten by bats. His research on bats has continued in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and he has returned to research on whales, examining the structure of the middle and inner ears.

I am interested in the ways that animals are adapted to their lifestyles and environments by specializations in the structure of their bodies. Bats emit approximately 10 calls every second that they are in flight, for navigation and to locate insect prey. Each of these calls may exceed 110 dB sound intensity measured 10 cm from the bats mouth — the intensity of a smoke alarm. How is this possible? They are capable of emitting calls at a rate of over 200 per second, but the intensity drops. Why? Vocalization in bats, as in most mammals, is powered by the respiratory system. How is the respiratory system modified for the spectacular vocal performances of bats? How is their vocalization limited by the needs of the respiratory system to supply air for the demanding activity of flight? These are questions that I have explored in my research. I have studied, and I teach human anatomy. I do not conduct research in human anatomy, but in no species of animal is the body described and characterized at the level of detail as that of humans. This makes the study of human anatomy an excellent foundation for the study of the structure of any vertebrate.

I have conducted studies on the specializations of the respiratory systems, skull, jaw structure, and genitalia of bats. I am currently involved in research on the structure of the inner and middle ears of whales and dolphins in order to understand how they have adapted their system of biosonar to the aquatic environment and how it relates to body size. Animals’ bodies hold the solutions to the problems of surviving and thriving; the opportunities for study are endless.