Research Fellow, Hiroki Higashiyama

Hiroki Higashiyama

Hiroki Higashiyama, Ph.D.

Research Area Comparative Morphology, Evolutionary Developmental Biology
Collaborating faculty Prof. Naoki Irie
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The dinosaur skeletons reminiscent of buttresses in cathedrals, the wings of butterflies like Persian carpets, the cranial nerves resembling mandalas—such splendid morphology prompts the question, "How could these forms have come into existence?" This awe, felt when we encounter the remarkable morphology of animals, has captivated people since ancient times and continues to enthrall us as a mystery of evolution.
I have dedicated my research to the evolution of vertebrates, primarily based on comparative morphology. My main interest lies in the body parts where various anatomical elements converge to create complex structures, such as the head and cardiac regions. Through detailed embryological observations, I have sought to uncover the developmental rules and the evolutionary processes underlying their complexities. In my most representative study, I have demonstrated that the mammalian-unique face with a semi-independent nose is assigned as an evolutionary novelty, which was first established overriding ancestral morphological framework highly conserved among the non-mammalian tetrapods. I have pursued such research by integrating developmental biology techniques with paleontological methods. At RCIES, I will conduct quantitative analyses of craniofacial development to explore the underlying developmental mechanisms that have driven drastic morphological evolution toward the mammalian face.

Selected Publications, Books etc.

  • 1.Kaoru Mizukami, Hiroki Higashiyama*et al., (2023) Coronary artery established through amniote evolution life 12:e83005.
  • 2.Hiroki Higashiyama* et al., (2023) Evolution of the therian face through complete loss of the premaxilla. Evolution & Development 25(1), 103-118.
  • 3.Hiroki Higashiyama* et al., (2021) Mammalian face as an evolutionary novelty. PNAS 118(44), e2111876118.
  • 4.Hiroki Higashiyama* et al., (2018) Anatomy and development of the extrahepatic biliary system in mouse and rat: a perspective on the evolutionary loss of the gallbladder. Journal of Anatomy 232(1), 134-145.
  • 5.Hiroki Higashiyama* et al., (2016) On the vagal cardiac nerves, with special reference to the early evolution of the head-trunk interface. Journal of Morphology 277(9), 1146-1158