Associate Professor

Phone: 510-664-4193
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Research Description

Research in my laboratory is focused on understanding the macroevolutionary-scale patterns of structure-function relationships in mammals and other vertebrate groups. Projects in my lab include analysis of variables such as diet, evolutionary relationships and non-masticatory functional constraints and their interplay on the structure and function of the skull as a feeding tool. I use methodologies such as landmark-based shape analysis (geometric morphometrics), model-based assessments of feeding performance (finite element analysis) as well as experiment-based model validation approaches (mechanical testing and kinematics analysis). I also conduct field-based and collection-based research on extinct mammal groups to understand the influence of inter-continental dispersals on the evolution of predator lineages. My fieldwork areas including Wyoming (Eocene), Inner Mongolia (Neogene), Tibetan Plateau (Neogene), Mexico (Neogene), and southern China (Paleocene).

Selected Publications

Tseng ZJ, Zazula G., Werdelin L. (2019). First Fossils of Hyenas (Chasmaporthetes, Hyaenidae, Carnivora) from North of the Arctic Circle. Open Quaternary doi:

Wang X, White SC, Balisi M, Biewer J, Sankey J, Garber D., Tseng ZJ. (2018) First bone-cracking dog coprolites provide new insight into bone consumption in Borophagus and their unique ecological niche. eLife 7:e34773 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.34773 

Tseng ZJ, Flynn, JJ. (2018) Structure-function covariation with nonfeeding ecological variables influences evolution of feeding specialization in Carnivora. Science Advances 4, eaao5441

Tseng ZJ., Su D., Wang X., White S., Ji X.. (2017) Feeding capability in the extinct giant Siamogale melilutra and comparative mandibular biomechanics of living Lutrinae. Scientific Reports. 7(15225). 1-10.

Tseng ZJ, Pacheco-Castro A, Carranza-Castaneda O, Aranda-Gomez JJ, Wang X, and Troncoso H. (2017) Discovery of the fossil otter Enhydritherium terraenovae (Carnivora, Mammalia) in Mexico reconciles a palaeozoogeographic mystery Biology Letters. 13. 1-5.

DeSantis, L.R.G., Tseng, Z.J., Liu, J., Hurst, A., Schubert, B.W. and Jiangzuo, Q.. (2017) Assessing niche conservatism using a multiproxy approach: dietary ecology of extinct and extant spotted hyenas. Paleobiology 43(2). 1-18.

Tomiya S, Tseng ZJ. (2016) Whence the beardogs? Reappraisal of the Middle to Late Eocene 'Miacis' from Texas, USA, and the origin of Amphicyonidae (Mammalia, Carnivora) Royal Society Open Science. 3. 1-25.

Tseng ZJ, Grohé C, Flynn JJ. (2016) A unique feeding strategy of the extinct marine mammalKolponomos: convergence on sabretooths and sea otters. Proc Biol Sci. 283(1826). 20160044.

Tseng ZJ, Geisler JH.. (2016) The first fossil record of borophagine dogs (Mammalia, Carnivora) from South Carolina, U.S.A. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 36(3).

Figueirido B, Martín-Serra A, Tseng ZJ, Janis CM. (2015) Habitat changes and changing predatory habits in North American fossil canids. Nat Commun. 6. 7976.

Tseng ZJ, Flynn JJ. (2015) An integrative method for testing form-function linkages and reconstructed evolutionary pathways of masticatory specialization. J R Soc Interface. 12(107).

Tseng ZJ, Flynn JJ. (2015) Convergence analysis of a finite element skull model of Herpestes javanicus (Carnivora, Mammalia): implications for robust comparative inferences of biomechanical function. J Theor Biol. 365. 112-148.

Wang X, Tseng ZJ, Li Q, Takeuchi GT, Xie G. (2014) From 'third pole' to north pole: a Himalayan origin for the arctic fox. Proc B Biol Sci. 281(1787).

Figueirido B, Tseng ZJ, Serrano-Alarcón FJ, Martín-Serra A, Pastor JF, Tseng J. (2014) Three dimensional computer simulations of feeding behaviour in red and giant pandas relate skull biomechanics with dietary niche partitioning. Biol Lett. 10(4). 20140196.

Tseng ZJ, Wang X, Slater GJ, Takeuchi GT, Li Q, Liu J, Xie G. (2014) Himalayan fossils of the oldest known pantherine establish ancient origin of big cats. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 281(1774). 20132686.

Figueirido B, Tseng ZJ, Martín-Serra A. (2013) Skull shape evolution in durophagous carnivorans. Evolution. 67(7). 1975-1993.

Tseng ZJ. (2013) Testing adaptive hypotheses of convergence with functional landscapes: a case study of bone-cracking hypercarnivores. PLoS One. 8(5). 65305.

Tseng ZJ, Li Q, Wang X. (2013) A new cursorial hyena from Tibet, and analysis of biostratigraphy, paleozoogeography, and dental morphology of Chasmaporthetes (Mammalia, Carnivora). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 33(6). 1457-1471.

Deng T, Li Q, Tseng ZJ, Takeuchi GT, Wang Y, Xie G, Wang S, Hou S, Wang X. (2012) Locomotive implication of a Pliocene three-toed horse skeleton from Tibet and its paleo-altimetry significance. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 109(19). 7374-7378.

Deng T, Wang X, Fortelius M, Li Q, Wang Y, Tseng ZJ, Takeuchi GT, Saylor JE, Säilä LK, Xie G. (2011) Out of Tibet: Pliocene woolly rhino suggests high-plateau origin of Ice Age megaherbivores. Science. 333(6047). 1285-1288.

Tseng ZJ, Antón M., and Salesa MJ.. (2011) The evolution of the bone-cracking model in carnivorans: cranial functional morphology of the Plio-Pleistocene cursorial hyaenid Chasmaporthetes lunensis(Mammalia: Carnivora). Paleobiology. 37(1). 140-156.

Tseng ZJ, Takeuchi G., and Wang X. (2010) Discovery of the upper dentition of Barbourofelis whitfordi(Nimravidae, Carnivora) and an evaluation of the genus in California. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 30(1). 244-254.

Tseng ZJ. (2009) Cranial function in a late Miocene Dinocrocuta gigantea (Mammalia: Carnivora) revealed by comparative finite element analysis. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 96. 51-67.