Graduate Program Director
PhD, University of Iowa 2012
Instructor, Stony Brook University (2015-2017)
Visiting Assistant Professor, Georgia Southern University (2013-2015)
Instructor, University of Northern Iowa (2012-2013)
ResearchGate profile: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Eric_Wilberg
Dr. Wilberg is a vertebrate paleontologist interested in the evolution of the crocodylomorph archosaurs. His research program focuses on reconstructing the phylogeny and morphological evolution of this highly diverse and successful group. Living crocodylomorphs (crocodiles, alligators, and gharials) exhibit a narrow range of morphologies and occupy essentially a single ecological niche (semi-aquatic ambush predator). However, extinct members of the group displayed a much broader range of body plans and lifestyles, from fully upright terrestrial herbivores to fully aquatic, dolphin-like forms. The Mesozoic thalattosuchians, one of his primary groups of study, include fully marine species possessing reduced, paddle-like limbs and expanded, fish-like tails. A greater understanding of the morphology of these animals has helped reconstruct the patterns of morphological evolution that allowed them to adapt to the marine realm. It has also helped to determine their place in the crocodylomorph evolutionary tree – a longstanding phylogenetic problem.
Dr. Wilberg is also interested in the evolution of phenotype within crocodylomorphs, particularly with regards to the skull. A crocodylomorph’s snout is its primary tool for interacting with its environment, and a number of different snout shapes have recurred throughout the evolutionary history of the group. He employs geometric morphometric and comparative phylogenetic methods to investigate patterns of cranial disparity and convergent evolution across their entire temporal range.