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Chief Scientist Laboratories Evolutionary Morphology Laboratory

Chief Scientist: Shigeru Kuratani (Ph.D.)

Research Summary

Shigeru  Kuratani(Ph.D.)

Evolution can be viewed as series of changes introduced to developmental programs of organisms. The ultimate goal of our research project is to reconstruct the mechanical background of development behind evolutionary novelties in vertebrates, such as jaws and turtle crapace, by comparing developmental processes and patterns between different animal species to identify the changed portion of development, by constructing phenocopies to modify a part of developmental programs of model animals, and by integrating the experimental data with fossil data, phylogenetic trees based on molecular data, and variety of genomes in animals.

Main Research Fields

  • Biological Sciences

Related Research Fields

  • Biology
  • Comparative Embryology
  • Comparative Morphology
  • Developmental Biology


  • Head
  • Skeletomuscular system
  • Nervous system
  • Vertebrates
  • Cyclostomes

Selected Publications

  • 1. Hirasawa, T., Hu, Y., Giles, S., et al:
    "Morphology of Palaeospondylus shows affinity to tetrapod ancestors."
    Nature 606: 109-112 (2022) doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-04781-3
  • 2. Higuchi, S., Sugahara, F., Oisi, Y. et al.:
    "Inner ear development in cyclostome and the evolution of vertebrate semicircular canals."
    Nature 565, 347-350 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0782-y.
  • 3. Pascual-Anaya, J., Sato, I., Paps, J., et al:
    "Hagfish and lamprey Hox genes reveal conservation of temporal colinearity in vertebrates."
    Nat. Ecol. Evol. 2: 859-866;(2018)doi: 10.1038/s41559-018-0526-2.
  • 4. Sugahara, F., Pascual-Anaya, J., Oisi, Y. et al.:
    "Evidence from cyclostomes for complex regionalization of the ancestral vertebrate brain."
    Nature 531, 97-100 (2016) doi:10.1038/nature16518.
  • 5. Wang, Z.*, Pascual-Anaya, J.*, Zadissa, A. et al.:
    "Development and evolution of turtle-specific body plan assessed by genome-wide analyses."
    Nat. Genet. 45, 701-706 (2013) doi:10.1038/ng0614-657a.
  • 6. Oisi, Y., Ota, K. G., Kuraku, S. et al.:
    "Craniofacial development of hagfishes and the evolution of vertebrates."
    Nature 493, 175-180 (2013) doi:10.1038/nature11794.
  • 7. Nagashima, H., Sugahara, F., Takechi, M. et al.:
    "Evolution of the turtle body plan by the folding and creation of new muscle connections."
    Science 325, 193-196 (2009) doi:10.1126/science.1173826.
  • 8. Ota, K. G., Kuraku, S., and Kuratani, S.:
    "Hagfish embryology with reference to the evolution of the neural crest."
    Nature 446, 672-675 (2007) doi:10.1038/nature05633.
  • 9.Takio, Y., Pasqualetti, M., Kuraku, S. et al.:
    "Evolutionary Biology: Lamprey Hox genes and the evolution of jaws."
    Nature 429 (6989), 622-622 (2004) doi:10.1038/nature02616.
  • 10.Shigetani, Y., Sugahara, F., Kawakami, Y. et al.:
    "Heterotopic shift of epithelial-mesenchymal interactions for vertebrate jaw evolution."
    Science 296, 1316-1319 (2002) doi:10.1126/science.1068310.

Recent Research Results


Annual research report

Related Links

Lab Members

Principal investigator

Shigeru Kuratani
Chief Scientist

Core members

Juan Pascual Anaya
Visiting Scientist
Fumiaki Sugahara
Visiting Scientist
Naoki Irie
Visiting Scientist
Tatsuya Hirasawa
Visiting Scientist
Yasunori Murakami
Visiting Scientist

Contact Information

2-2-3 Minatojima-minamimachi, Chuo-ku
Kobe, Hyogo
650-0047 Japan
Email: shigeru,kuratani [at] riken.jp