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Biological Sciences Profiles

Richard Blob

Alumni Distinguished Professor
Biological Sciences Department

Office: 342 Long Hall
Fax: 864-656-0435

Vita: Download CV
Personal Website:

 Educational Background

Ph.D. Evolutionary Biology
University of Chicago 1998

M.S. Evolutionary Biology
University of Chicago 1995

B.A. Individualized Studies (Paleobiology); Biology
University of Pennsylvania 1992

 Courses Taught

Vertebrate Biology (Lecture and Lab)
Service Learning in Vertebrate Biology
Comparative Vertebrate Morphology
Animal Biomechanics
Creative Inquiry: Comparative Musculoskeletal Biomechanics
Integrative Biology Reading Group


Our lab studies the diversity and evolution of animal function. We are interested in questions about:

• How animals (and their parts) work

• How the ways that animals work affect their ability to survive

• How animal function varies to meet the demands of different environments

• How animal function has diversified and changed through evolution

To answer these questions, most of our research examines vertebrate muscle and bone function during locomotion, with a major focus on reptiles (especially turtles and alligators), amphibians, and fishes. Other work includes studies of fish feeding, vertebrate paleontology, and the mechanics and evolution of deer antler.

We use a wide range of techniques in these studies, drawing on experimental biomechanics (high-speed video, strain, EMG, force platforms, mechanical property testing), morphometrics (allometry, mechanical models of recent and fossil specimens), phylogenetic comparative methods, and field sampling.

Our lab participates in several professional societies, and is especially active in the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB), the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP), and the International Society of Vertebrate Morphologists (ISVM). I currently serve as Program Officer-Elect for SICB and Awards Committee Chair for SVP. I am also on the Editorial Boards of the journals Proceedings of the Royal Society B, and the Journal of Morphology, serve on the Board for Clemson's Bob Campbell Geology Museum, and facilitate activities for Clemson's Bob and Betsy Campbell Museum of Natural History.


McInroe, B., H. C. Astley, C. Gong, S. M. Kawano, P. E. Schiebel, J. M. Rieser, H. Choset, R. W. Blob, D. I. Goldman. 2016. Tail use improves performance on soft substrates in models of early land locomotors. Science 353:154-158.

Mayerl, C. M., E. L. Brianerd, R. W. Blob. 2016. Pelvic girdle mobility of cryptodire and pleurodire turtles during walking and swimming. Journal of Experimental Biology, in press.

Kawano, S. M., D. R. Economy, M. S. Kennedy, D. Dean, R. W. Blob. 2016. Comparative limb bone loading in the humerus and femur of the tiger salamander, Ambystoma tigrinum: testing the “mixed-chain” hypothesis for skeletal safety factors. Journal of Experimental Biology 219:341-353.

Aiello, B. R., J. Iriarte-Diaz, R. W. Blob, M. T. Butcher, M. T. Carrano, N. R. Espinoza, R. Main, C. F. Ross. 2015. Bone strain magnitude is correlated with bone strain rate in tetrapods: implications for models of mechanotransduction. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 282, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.0321.

Young, V. K H., R. W. Blob. 2015. Limb-bone loading in swimming turtles: Changes in loading facilitate transitions from tubular to flipper-shaped limbs during aquatic invasions. Biology Letters 11, DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2015.0110.

Copploe, J. V. II., R. W. Blob, J. H. A. Parrish, M. T. Butcher. 2015. In vivo strains in the femur of the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus). Journal of Morphology, 276:889-899.

Moody, K. N., S. N. Hunter, M. J. Childress, R. W. Blob, H. L. Schoenfuss, M. J. Blum, M. B. Ptacek. 2015. Local adaptation despite high gene flow in the waterfall-climbing Hawaiian goby, Sicyopterus stimpsoni. Molecular Ecology 24:545-563. (Featured in Molecular Ecology News and Views)

Blob, R. W., T. E. Higham. 2014. Terrestrial locomotion—where do we stand, where are we going? An introduction to the symposium. Integrative and Comparative Biology 54:1051-1057.

Blob, R. W., N. R. Espinoza, M. T. Butcher, A. H. Lee, A. R. D’Amico, F. Baig, K. M. Sheffield. 2014. Diversity of limb bone safety factors for locomotion in terrestrial vertebrates: evolution and mixed chains. Integrative and Comparative Biology 54:1058-1071.

Maie, T., S. Meyer, H. L. Schoenfuss, R. W. Blob. 2014. Feeding performance and functional modulation of the Hawaiian sleeper, Eleotris sandwicensis (Gobiodei: Eleotridae): implications for selection pressures on prey. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 111:359-374.

Schoenfuss, H. L., T. Maie, K. N. Moody, K. E. Lesteberg, R. W. Blob, T. C. Schoenfuss. 2013. Stairway to heaven: evaluating levels of biological organization correlated with the successful ascent of natural waterfalls in the Hawaiian stream goby, Sicyopterus stimpsoni. PLoS One 8: e84851. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084851.

Rivera, A. R. V., R. W. Blob. 2013. Forelimb muscle function in pig-nosed turtles, Carettochelys insculpta: testing neuromotor conservation between rowing and flapping in swimming turtles. Biology Letters 9:20130471.

Kawano, S. M., R. W. Blob. 2013. Propulsive forces of mudskipper fins and salamander limbs during terrestrial locomotion: implications for the invasion of land. Integrative and Comparative Biology 53:283-294.

Ashley-Ross, M.A., S. T. Hsieh, A. C. Gibb, R. W. Blob. 2013. Vertebrate land invasions—past, present, and future: an introduction to the symposium. Integrative and Comparative Biology 53:192-196.

Aiello, B. R., R. W. Blob, M. T. Butcher. 2013. Correlation of muscle function and bone strain in the hindlimb of the river cooter turtle (Pseudemys concinna). Journal of Morphology 274:1060-1069.

Maie, T., H. L. Schoenfuss, R. W. Blob. 2013. Musculoskeletal determinants of pelvic sucker function in Hawaiian stream gobiid fishes: interspecific comparisons and allometric scaling. Journal of Morphology 733-742.

Kawano, S. M., W. C. Bridges, H. L. Schoenfuss, T. Maie, R. W. Blob. 2013. Differences in locomotor behavior correspond to different patterns of linear and nonlinear morphological selection in two species of waterfall-climbing gobiid fishes. Evolutionary Ecology 27:949-969.

Ross, C. F., R. W. Blob, D. R. Carrier, M. A. Daley, S. M. Deban, B. Demes, J. L. Gripper, J. Iriarte-Diaz, B. Kilbourne, T. Landberg, J. Polk, N. Schilling, B. Vanhooydonck. 2013. The evolution of locomotor rhythmicity in tetrapods. Evolution 67:1209-1217.

Cullen, J. A., T. Maie, H. L. Schoenfuss, R. W. Blob. 2013. Evolutionary novelty versus exaptation: Oral kinematics in feeding versus climbing in the waterfall-climbing Hawaiian goby Sicyopterus stimpsoni. PLoS One 8: e53274. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053274.

Rivera, A. R. V., G. Rivera, R. W. Blob. 2013. Forelimb kinematics during swimming in the pig-nosed turtle, Carettochelys insculpta, compared with other turtle taxa: rowing versus flapping, convergence versus intermediacy. Journal of Experimental Biology 216:668-680.

Maie, T., H. L. Schoenfuss, R. W. Blob. 2012. Performance and scaling of a novel locomotor structure: adhesive capacity of climbing gobiid fishes. Journal of Experimental Biology 215:3925-3936. (Featured Inside JEB)

Rivera, A. R. V., J. Davis, W. Grant, R. W. Blob, E. Peterson, A. Neiman, M. Rowe. 2012. Quantifying utricular stimulation during natural behavior. Journal of Experimental Zoology 317A:467-480.

Leonard, G., T. Maie, K. Moody, G. Schrank, R.W. Blob, H. L. Schoenfuss. 2012. Finding paradise: cues directing the migration of the waterfall climbing Hawaiian gobioid fish Sicyopterus stimpsoni. Journal of Fish Biology 81:903-920.

Schoenfuss, H. L., T. Maie, S. M. Kawano, R. W. Blob. 2011. Performance across extreme environments: comparing waterfall climbing among amphidromous gobioid fishes from Caribbean and Pacific islands. Cybium 35:361-369.

Maie, T., A. B. Meister, G. L. Leonard, G. D. Schrank, R. W. Blob, H. L. Schoenfuss. 2011. Jaw muscle fiber type distribution in Hawaiian gobioid stream fishes: histochemical correlations with feeding ecology and behavior. Zoology (Jena) 114:340-347.

Gosnell, W. C., M. T. Butcher, T. Maie, R. W. Blob. 2011. Femoral loading mechanics in the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana): torsion and mediolateral bending in mammalian locomotion. Journal of Experimental Biology 214:3455-3466.

Rivera, A. R. V., J. Wyneken, R. W. Blob. 2011. Forelimb kinematics and motor patterns of swimming loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta): are motor patterns conserved in the evolution of new locomotor strategies? Journal of Experimental Biology 214:3314-3323.

Butcher, M. T., B. J. White, N. B. Hudzik, W. C. Gosnell, J. H. A. Parrish, R. W. Blob. 2011. In vivo strains in the femur of the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) during terrestrial locomotion: testing hypotheses of evolutionary shifts in mammalian bone loading and design. Journal of Experimental Biology 214:2631-2640.

Sheffield, K. M., M. T. Butcher, S. K. Shugart, J. C. Gander, R. W. Blob. 2011. Locomotor loading mechanics in the hindlimbs of tegu lizards (Tupinambis merianae): comparative and evolutionary implications. Journal of Experimental Biology 214:2616-2630.

Sheffield, K. M., R. W. Blob. 2011. Loading mechanics of the femur in tiger salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum) during terrestrial locomotion. Journal of Experimental Biology 214:2603-2615.

Rivera, G., A. R. V. Rivera, R. W. Blob. 2011. Hydrodynamic stability of the painted turtle (Chrysemys picta): effects of four-limbed rowing versus forelimb flapping in rigid-bodied tetrapods. Journal of Experimental Biology 214:1153-1162.

Blob, R. W., S. M. Kawano, K. N. Moody, W. C. Bridges, T. Maie, M. B. Ptacek, M. L. Julius, H. L. Schoenfuss. 2010. Morphological selection and the evaluation of potential tradeoffs between escape from predators and the climbing of waterfalls in the Hawaiian stream goby Sicyopterus stimpsoni. Integrative and Comparative Biology 50:1185-1199.

Schoenfuss, H. L., J. D. Roos, A. R. V. Rivera, R. W. Blob. 2010. Motor patterns of distal hind limb muscles in walking turtles: implications for models of limb bone loading. Journal of Morphology 271:1527-1536.

Gardner, J. D., Z. Rocek, T. Prikryl, J. G. Eaton, R. W. Blob, J. T. Sankey. 2010. Comparative morphology of the ilium of anurans and urodeles (Lissamphibia) and a re-assessment of the anuran affinities of Nezpercius dodsoni Blob et al., 2001. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30:1684-1696.

Rivera, A. R. V., R. W. Blob. 2010. Forelimb kinematics and motor patterns of the slider turtle (Trachemys scripta) during swimming and walking: shared and novel strategies for meeting locomotor demands of water and land. Journal of Experimental Biology 213:3515-3528.

Dougherty, E. E., G. Rivera, R. W. Blob, J. Wyneken. 2010. A comparison of stability in swimming loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and green (Chelonia mydas) sea turtle posthatchlings. Zoology (Jena) 113:158-167.

Wilson, M. P., N. R. Espinoza, S. R. Shah, R. W. Blob. 2009. Mechanical properties of the hindlimb bones of bullfrogs and cane toads in bending and torsion. The Anatomical Record 292:935-944.

Maie, T., H. L. Schoenfuss, R. W. Blob. 2009. Jaw lever analysis of Hawaiian gobioid stream fishes: a simulation study of morphological diversity and functional performance. Journal of Morphology 270:976-983.

Maie, T., M. P. Wilson, H. L. Schoenfuss, R. W. Blob. 2009. Feeding kinematics and performance of Hawaiian stream gobies, Awaous guamensis and Lentipes concolor: linkage of functional morphology and ecology. Journal of Morphology 270:344-356.

Gosnell, J. S., G. Rivera, R. W. Blob. 2009. A phylogenetic analysis of sexual size dimorphism in turtles. Herpetologica 65:70-81.


Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
Society for Vertebrate Paleontology
Campbell Museum of Natural History
Bob Campbell Geology Museum