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Ms Susana V Gutarra Diaz

Doctor of Philosophy Student, Member Student

Susana Gutarra Diaz

Ms Susana V Gutarra Diaz

Doctor of Philosophy Student, Member Student

Member of

Postgraduate research supervised by

Research interests

My research focuses on the study of the evolution of hydrodynamic performance and swimming adaptations in Mesozoic marine reptiles using Computational Fluid Dynamic tools, analysis of morphospace of locomotion-related traits and comparative phylogenetic methods.


During the Mesozoic, various groups of reptiles took to the seas. Some them constituted highly diverse and successful clades, such as the iconic Ichthyosaurs, Sauropterygians, Thalattosuchians and Mossasaurs. Their rich fossil record and recently revised and well-resolved phylogenies, make of them extraordinary models for testing large scale evolutionary hypothesis.


Efficient locomotion in water results from combination of strategies that lead to reducing drag and increasing propulsive power and stability. Evidence for evolutionary transitions towards an increase in swimming performance include transformations of limbs into paddles or hydrofoils, changes of major body proportions, and streamlining of body shapes. There is also evidence pointing to a great degree of convergent evolution between some of the most derived members of these major clades. However, the extent and impact of the morphological and functional convergence, as well as the effect of the strong physical constraints of the aquatic medium, have proven difficult to test in a quantitative manner.

Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) allows the simulation of virtual fluid scenarios, and the calculation of forces and pressures that result from the interaction of the body with the fluid that surrounds it. I aim to validate the CFD techniques using modern aquatic tetrapods and then apply these tools to assess the hydrodynamic properties of the bodies and propulsive elements of fossil marine reptiles using 3D models based on exceptionally preserved specimens.

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Postal address:
United Kingdom