Michael I. Siegel

  • Professor Emeritus

Michael Siegel is a physical anthropologist interested in craniofacial biology, with a clinical specialty in cleft palate and other craniofacial anomalies.

He is also interested in functional anatomy, animal models, and physiological adaptation to stress.

Among others, he teaches anatomy and research design courses.

Research Description

Functional Anatomy

Evolutionary changes in brain growth patterns and resultant skull base morphologies from sharks through humans (yellow arrows denote orientation of spinal cord and the foramen magnum).

Midsagittal spatial relationships of the human skull base skeletal elements and articulations in the late fetal period. Anteroposterior growth of the skull base depends on three synchondroses:

The short-faced animal model. Palatal view of cleaned and dried adult skulls of a cat (left), monkey (middle), and chimpanzee (right). Note the U-shaped dental arches and the shortened premaxillae relative to the other palatal components.

The long-faced animal model. Palatal view of cleaned and dried adult skulls (from left to right) of the rat, rabbit, dog, and baboon. Note the elongated premaxillae relative to the other palatal components and the reduced incisive foramen (if) in the dog and baboon skulls.

The "generic" animal model. Palatal view of cleaned and dried skulls of an adult rabbit (left) and rat (right). Note the elongated premaxillae (pm), the large incisive foramen (if), small maxillary and palatine components, and the V-shaped dental arch.

The "phylogenetically-closer" animal model. Lateral (occlusal) view of cleaned and dried skulls of an adult cat (top), dog (middle), and rhesus monkey (bottom). Note the multiple tooth classes, reduced post-canine diastema, and the interlocking "canine complex" in the cat and dog skulls.

Fitting appropriate animal models. Palatal view of a cleaned and dried adult human (left) and chimpanzee (right) skulls. Note the reduced incisive foramen (if), the U-shaped dental arch and the similarities in relativeproportions of the three palatal-midfacial components.


Primate Anatomy

This course offers a detailed consideration of the anatomy of the primates. It will follow an integrated regional approach (i.e., the back, the upper extremities, the hand, etc.), however, the major focus will be on the musculoskeletal system. Students will dissect human material (cadavers) but emphasis will be on the comparative aspects within the order whenever possible. Other non-human primate skeletal material will also be used. There will be two exams, written and practical and oral and practical, each worth 50 percent of the final grade. The course will meet for four scheduled hours per week of laboratory and lecture, and the lab will be available for extra use. Instruments will be available in the laboratory. Dissecting gowns are required. This course is offered every other year. Dr. Siegel's permission is required to register for this course. Before students can receive permission to register for the class they must have completed the Bloodborne Pathogens training session (in person – not online module) and received a certification.

Introduction to Physical Anthropology

This is an introduction to the various disciplines that have been brought to bear in the study of humans and other primates. The course will have an evolutionary perspective as we review living primates (distribution, features of behavior and morphology) and their fossil histories. Particular attention will be paid to how humans have come to look the way we do.

Human Evolution and Variation

Undergraduate Seminar. This seminar will explore the literature of variation in "polytypic" humans. We will make use of other animal domesticants as models for our self-domesticated species. In addition to looking at present day variations and their history in this light, we will consider the social use of scientific findings as well as the implications for distribution of disease and pathology. No text book. Required readings will cover the "classics" as well as current literature. There are no exams or papers but a final class presentation and an annotated bibliography will be required. Dr. Siegel's permission is required to register for this course.

Structure and Function

Students will explore the literature of human biology and develop questions and hypotheses regarding undocumented concepts. Each student's goal will be to design a laboratory study which tests the hypothesis he/she has formulated. Areas which might be investigated might include locomotion, feeding adaptations, and adaptation to various environmental conditions. Students will learn techniques of experimental surgery used to investigate the relationship between structure and function. At the conclusion of this course, the student will have learned how to select a research topic and carry out a study from start to finish.


Mooney, M.P., Siegel, M.I. (2004) Animal models for bone tissue engineering of critical-sized defects (CSDs), bone pathologies, and orthopedic disease states. In: Bone Tissue Engineering,edited by Hollinger, J.O. et al., C.R.C. Press, pp. 217-244.

Fellows-Mayle, W., Mitchell, R., Losken, H.W., Bradley, J., Siegel, M.I., Mooney, M.P. (2004) Intracranial pressure changes in craniosynostotic rabbits. Plast. Reconstr. Surg.113:557-565.

Smith, T.D., Bhatnagar, K.P., Shimp, K.L., Kinzinger, J.H., Bonar, C.J., Burrows, A.M., Mooney, M.P., Siegel, M.I. (2003) Ontogenetic characteristics of the vomeronasal organ in Saguinus geoffroyi and Leontopithecus rosalia, with comparisons to other primates. Amer. J. Phys. Anthrop. 2003; 121:342-353.