Karen Elizabeth Samonds


Northern Illinois University

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My research is focused on the origin and evolutionary history of Madagascar’s modern fauna, one of the most unique and endemic on the planet. How, when, and from where they arrived has remained largely unknown due to a 65-million-year gap in the fossil record that occurs precisely within the time period during which the modern vertebrate groups are hypothesized to have colonized the island. My research has sought to fill in this “gap” in a number of different ways. I also continue to collaborate with colleagues on projects examining dental development, life history, anatomy and growth in both living and subfossil lemurs. These collaborations have examined life history variation in extant and extinct primates (including electron microscopy and ontogenetic studies of dental eruption and root formation), and collected data from captures of wild lemurs to characterize their growth and health in pristine forest and disturbed fragments.

Domaines d’expertise/Area of expertise:  Subfossil lemurs, Lemur growth and dental development, Lemur life history

Espèces étudiées / Species: Propithecus diadema

1.        Crowley BE, Godfrey LR, Bankoff RJ, Perry GH, Gulleton BJ, Kennett DJ, Sutherland MR, Samonds KE & Burney DA (2017). Island-wide aridity did not trigger megafaunal extinctions in Madagascar. Ecography 40: 901-912.

2.       Ohba M, Samonds KE, LaFleur M, Ali JR, & Godfrey LR (2016). Madagascar’s climate at the K/P boundary. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 441: 688–695.

3.       Samonds KE, Godfrey LR, Ali JR, Goodman SM, Vences M, Sutherland MR, Irwin MT, and Krause DW (2013). Imperfect isolation: factors and filters shaping Madagascar's extant vertebrate fauna. PLoS ONE 8(4): e62086. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062086:

4.      Samonds KE, Godfrey LR, Ali JR, Goodman SM, Vences M, Sutherland MR, Irwin MT, Krause DW (2012). Spatial and temporal arrival patterns of Madagascar's vertebrate fauna explained by distance, ocean currents, and ancestor type. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 109:5352-5357.

5.       Samonds KE, Parent SN, Muldoon KM, Crowley BE, and Godfrey LR (2010). Rock matrix surrounding subfossil lemur skull yields diverse collection of mammalian subfossils: Implications for reconstructing Madagascar’s paleoenvironments. Malagasy Nature 4:1-16.

6.       Irwin MT, Junge RE, Raharison JL, Samonds KE (2010). Variation in physiological health of diademed sifakas across intact and fragmented forest at Tsinjoarivo, eastern Madagascar. American Journal of Primatology 72:1013-1025. (featured article).

7.       Godfrey LR, Schwartz GT, Samonds KE, Jungers WL, and Catlett K (2006).  The secrets of lemur teeth. Evolutionary Anthropology 15:142-154.

8.       Godfrey LR, Samonds KE, Wright PC and King SJ (2005). Schultz’s unruly rule: dental developmental sequences and schedules in small-bodied folivorous lemurs. Folia Primatologica 76:77-99.

9.       Godfrey LR, Samonds KE, Jungers WL, Sutherland MR and Irwin MT (2004). Ontogenetic correlates of diet in Malagasy lemurs. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 123:250-276.

10.    Schwartz GT, Samonds KE, Godfrey LR, Jungers WL and Simons EL (2002). Dental microstructure and life history in subfossil lemurs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 99(9):6124-6129.