Wataru Morita

Visiting Fellow

Wataru.Morita -at- helsinki.fi

I am interested in how and why tooth morphology changes. I have been studying physical anthropology, and involved in this question in terms of hominid evolution. Fossil specimens of apes are scarce, but, among them, teeth are relatively rich. Actually, I have participated in paleontological fieldwork to collect the evidence of how tooth morphology has evolved. Then, based on morphological variation of extant great apes, we have estimated the phylogenetic position of Miocene fossil apes and their dietary adaption. I received my PhD at the Kyoto University in 2014. My dissertation focused on morphological variability of human maxillary molars, including how the patterning cascade model of cusp development affects crown structure, and what is the difference between enamel–dentin junction and outer-enamel surface. But, undergoing PhD thesis, I became to think new methodology is required to evaluate complicated dental morphology more precisely. Then, I and my colleagues developed a landmark-free approach, morphometric mapping. After working at Hokkaido University, I joined Prof. Jukka Jernvall's laboratory as a postdoctoral researcher in 2018. From ontogenetic perspective, my research project addresses the relationship between signaling pathways and mice molar morphology using morphometric mapping with the aim to integrate ontogenetic and phylogenetic perspectives.