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Matthew Ravosa

Matthew J. Ravosa

Email: Matthew.J.Ravosa.1@nd.edu

Phone: 574-631-2556

Office: 221 Galvin


Postdoc, Duke University Medical Center, 1989-1993

Ph.D, Northwestern University, 1989

M.A., Northwestern University, 1986

B.A., University of Rochester, 1983


Over the past two decades, my integrative research program has investigated major adaptive and structural transformations in mammalian musculoskeletal form during development and across higher-level clades. With an eye to both the evolutionary and translational implications, this work is directed at the plasticity, mechanobiology, ecomorphology, performance and aging of the mammalian musculoskeletal system. Analyses of ontogeny, biomechanics and evolution have marshaled diverse and non-traditional sources of evidence to address outstanding issues concerning the underpinnings of patterns of morphological variation. For example, we have employed of a wide range of modern cell biological, molecular and engineering techniques (immunostaining, histomorphometry, macroscale properties testing, microarray, PCR, tissue culture, microCT) as well as unique experimental and transgenic animal models.

We have developed a rabbit model of phenotypic plasticity in cranial hard- and soft-tissues, which is being coupled with novel data on load-induced changes in cartilage gene expression patterns in the temporomandibular joint. Quantitative histomorphometric analyses have been applied to the developing proximal humerus and femur in mini-pigs. By providing the first long-term stubedies of plasticity in multiple cranial and limb joints, it has been possible to develop a more naturalistic and comprehensive perspective on the ontogeny and performance of musculoskeletal elements. In addition, our laboratory has performed the first investigation of cranial growth and form in a mouse model of neural encephalization, a condition with important implications for understanding prenatal development, craniofacial dysmorphologies and the evolution of the remarkably large brain in humans. Ongoing research regarding macroscale properties and performance of an ossified mandibular symphysis, a feature shared by all modern anthropoids, has capitalized on the analytical and technical expertise of common engineering methods. Recent work on the dynamic relationships among mammalian masticatory loading patterns, skeletal safety factors and cortical bone modeling and remodeling has highlighted important similarities and differences in loading patterns between the skull and limbs of vertebrates. From a clinical and bioengineering standpoint, this information is critical for characterizing the strain-mediated responses necessary for determining how to mimic the natural growth activity of connective tissues. Presently, my laboratory is developing a rabbit model of osteonecrosis of the jaw, a debilitating oral disease linked to long-term bisphosphonate therapy.


  • Congdon, K.A., Hammond, A.S. & Ravosa, M.J. (2012) Differential limb loading in miniature pigs (Sus scrofa domesticus): A test of chondral modeling theory. Journal of Experimental Biology, in press.
  • Hogg, R., Ravosa, M.J., Ryan, T.M. & Vinyard, C.J. (2011) The functional morphology of the anterior masticatory apparatus in tree-gouging marmosets (Cebidae, Platyrrhini). Journal of Morphology 272:833-849.
  • Ravosa, M.J., Ning, J., Liu, Y-Y. & Stack, M.S. (2011) Bisphosphonate effects on the behavior of oral epithelial cells and oral fibroblasts. Archives of Oral Biology 56:491-498.
  • Ravosa, M.J., Ning, J., Costley, D.B., Daniel, A.N., Stock, S.R. & Stack, M.S. (2010) Masticatory biomechanics and masseter fiber-type plasticity. Journal of Musculoskeletal and Neuronal Interactions 10:46-55. (Special Issue on Muscle-Bone Interactions).
  • Ravosa, M.J., Ross, C.F., Williams, S.H. & Costley, D.B. (2010) Allometry of masticatory loading parameters in mammals. Anatomical Record 293A:557-571. (Special Issue on Experimental Approaches to Primate Morphology)
  • Jašarević, E., Ning, J., Daniel, A.N., Menegaz, R.A., Johnson, J.J., Stack, M.S. & Ravosa, M.J. (2010) Masticatory loading, function and plasticity: A microanatomical analysis of mammalian circumorbital soft-tissue structures. Anatomical Record 293A:642-650. (Special Issue on Experimental Approaches to Primate Morphology).
  • Ravosa, M.J., López, E.K., Menegaz, R.A., Stock, S.R., Stack, M.S. & Hamrick, M.W. (2008) Using "Mighty Mouse" to understand masticatory plasticity: Myostatin-deficient mice and musculoskeletal function. Integrative and Comparative Biology 48:345-359. (Invited Symposium on Building a Better Organismal Model: The Role of the Mouse)
  • Ravosa, M.J., Kunwar, R., Stock, S.R. & Stack, M.S. (2007) Pushing the limit: Masticatory stress and adaptive plasticity in mammalian craniomandibular joints. Journal of Experimental Biology 210:628-641. (Accompanying article in same issue – Inside JEB. Hard diets build bone. 210:ii-iii)
  • Ravosa, M.J., Savakova, D.G., Johnson, K.R. & Hylander, W.L. (2006) Primate origins and the function of the circumorbital region: What's load got to do with it? In M.J. Ravosa & M. Dagosto (Eds.): Primate Origins: Adaptations and Evolution. New York: Springer Academic Publishers, pp. 285-328. (Invited Symposium on Primate Origins)

Summary of Activities/Interests

Evolutionary morphology, pathobiology and aging of the mammalian skull, masticatory complex and musculoskeletal system.


Reinterpreting the Fossil Record on Jaws

August 17, 2016

New research from a team of researchers led by Matthew Ravosa, professor of biology and concurrent professor of both aerospace and mechanical engineering and anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, puts into question how we interpret the behavior of extinct organisms from their fossil remains.