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Development of novel articulations: formation of the snake jaw

*Please note, this project is self-funded*

Project details

First supervisor: Professor Abigail Tucker

Second supervisor: Dr. Karen Liu

Duration: Three years

Funding: Self-funded

Application deadline: Open until a suitable candidate is found

Reference number: 2017/DI/11 

Project description

The evolution of the incredibly complex jaw apparatus of snakes allows many species to consume prey much larger than themselves. This study explores the development, structure and function of two lower jaw specialisations unique to most snake species, namely the free mandibular symphysis and the intramandibular hinge joint. This will be studied in the non-venomous corn snake (Elaphe Guttata).The aims of this project are as follows:

  1. Describe the development and precise anatomy of the intramandibular hinge and free symphysis in the corn snake.
  2. Compare and contrast the stages of corn snake craniofacial development to another non-mammalian vertebrate species – the chick.
  3. Investigate potential mechanisms in the formation of the intramandibular hinge.

References relating to the project

Buchtova, M., Handrigan, G.R., Tucker, A.S., Scott, L., Town, L., Fu, K., Diewert, V.M., Wicking, C., Richman, J.M. (2008) Initiation and patterning of the snake dental lamina are dependent on Sonic Hedgehog signalling. Dev. Biol. 319: 132-145. Zahradnicek, O., Horacek, I., Tucker, A.S. (2008) Viperous fangs: molecular evidence for the infolding theory of venom-canal development. Mech. Dev. 125, 786-796.

To view entry requirements and further course information, see the Dental and Health Sciences Research MPhil/PhD. 

Next steps

How to apply

Please apply online at following these steps:

  1. Register a new account/login
  2. Once logged in, select Create a new application
  3. Enter ‘Dental and Health Sciences Research MPhil/PhD (Full-time/Part-time)' under Choose a programme. Please ensure you select the correct mode of study
  4. Select a start date from the list under Entry requirements on this webpage.

Please note: Applicants must include the project reference number in the 'Research proposal' section of the application.

Contact for further information

Dr. Abigail Tucker (

Related division Craniofacial Development and Stem Cell Biology.

Back to Research Projects main page.

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