Karly E. Cohen, PhD

I am a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Florida in the Fraser lab looking at the evolution and development of teeth, denticles and odontodes. These are some of the earliest vertebrate traits (over 500 million years old)! Using an arsenal of bioimaging techniques I ask questions about fundamental laws acting on phenotypic evolution through the tools and adaptations of fishes, and how different lineages have solved common mechanical and ecological problems. 

I received my Ph.D. from the University of Washington and Friday Harbor Labs in 2022 and graduate from The George Washington University with a Masters in Science in Biology in 2019.

Why do we loose our edge?

 Most vertebrates are polyphyodont and continuously replace their teeth for the entirety of their life. Several clades have evolved diphyodont dentitions and only lose their teeth once as juveniles to make way for an adult dentition.

I am interested in the evolution of diphyodont dentitions and evaluating the selective pressures that led to the loss of polyphyodonty.

Complex dental patterns are linked to species radiations in several taxa —my research will explore how the evolution of dental complexity and jaw remodeling affects the rate of evolution across different vertebrate lineages. I hypothesize that the evolution of diphyodont dentitions is driven by constructional constraints of the jaws and that constant remodeling required of polyphyodont dentition cannot be maintained given the forces and stresses produced by chewing.

Check our my abstract in SICB or message me for my recorded talk!