Doctorado en evolución de mamíferos (Francia) ~

6 de junio de 2016

Doctorado en evolución de mamíferos (Francia)

The ConvergeAnt project: morphological convergence and dental simplification in ant-eating placentals.

We invite applications for a PhD position funded by the European Research Council (ERC) for 36 months at the University of Montpellier (France).

Co-supervisors. Dr. Lionel Hautier ( and Dr. Frédéric Delsuc (

Research Unit. Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution de Montpellier, Université Montpellier, CNRS, IRD, EPHE.

Host Laboratory. Form and Genome Departments
Teams “Paleontology” and “Phylogeny and Molecular Evolution”

Background. Despite its widespread occurrence across the tree of life, many questions still remain unanswered concerning the fascinating phenomenon of convergent evolution. Our objectives with this project are to provide new insights on a textbook example of adaptive evolutionary convergence represented by mammalian myrmecophagous species, in which similar phenotypes evolved independently in several lineages. The acquisition of a myrmecophagous diet almost exclusively composed of ants and/or termites has indeed evolved independently in five placental lineages with armadillos (Cingulata), anteaters (Pilosa), aardvarks (Tubulidentata), pangolins (Pholidota) and aardwolves (Carnivora). The skull of myrmecophages has attracted considerable attention because they show an extreme dental reduction, reaching its paroxysm in anteaters and pangolins that totally lack teeth. The selective constraints imposed by this highly specific diet have driven the convergent evolution of numerous morphological, anatomical, and physiological characters resulting in similar morphologies in these animals. We propose taking advantage of the unique set of convergently evolved characters associated with the ant-eating diet to investigate the developmental mechanisms underlying phenotypical adaptation.

Tasks. The main objectives of this PhD are to reveal the details of the morphological convergence towards skull elongation and dental reduction observed among independent myrmecophagous lineages. The successful candidate will address the following questions: (i) How is the skull variation shaped by convergent evolution towards myrmecophagy? (ii) Can we characterize the developmental origin of dental reduction? (iii) Can we identify a set of convergently evolved characters defining the myrmecophagous phenotype?

Candidate profile. Mandatory requirements include a master’s degree in evolutionary biology, experience in working with vertebrate collections, a high degree of initiative and motivation, capacity for teamwork, good English skills, and good knowledge of statistics applied to geometric morphometrics. Skills and experience with CT scanning and 3D reconstruction techniques will be useful. Desirable is a background in vertebrate comparative anatomy and evolution, especially in mammals. Skills in myology would also be useful. The successful candidate will have a genuine interest to interact with molecular biologists. S/he should also be keen to travel to visit international museum collections for data collection during the course of the Ph.D.

Applications. Candidates must send electronically their application before June 20th, 2016 in the form of a single PDF file including a cover letter, a CV, eventually a copy of their Master thesis, and contact information (not supporting letters) of two persons of reference to and We will review applications upon receipt. Short-listed candidates will be interviewed the last week of June.

This PhD position forms part of the ConvergeAnt project funded by the European Research Council (ERC), which aims at investigating the complex interplay between the mammalian genome, phenome, and associated microbiome in a classical case of adaptive convergence driven by a highly specialized diet.

Starting date: 01/10/2016

Duration: 3 years

For further information, please contact Lionel Hautier ( and/or Frédéric Delsuc (

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