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David Cundall, Ph.D.

David Cundall, Ph.D.
Functional Morphology

Office and Lab: 219 Warren Square
Mailing address:
1 W. Packer Ave.
Bethlehem, PA 18015



Research Summary

My lab focuses on the functional, morphological, ecological and evolutionary foundations of some behaviors of ectothermic tetrapods, particularly legless ones, like snakes. The behavior I have looked at most intensely is feeding behavior, but other maintenance behaviors, like drinking and locomotion, have also been examined. My primary interests lie in applying anatomical data to natural history and evolutionary problems.  I am particularly interested in finding out how the highly specialized feeding apparatus of snakes has evolved. My research applies behavioral data to anatomy, basically using behavior to guide anatomical analysis. I do what I do because I like to watch living animals—both in the lab and in the field—and I have always been fascinated by animal structure and how it defines behavior. Most of the anatomical analysis is done at gross and microdissectional levels but histological data are also collected to answer specific questions when tissue organization becomes relevant.

On-going projects are diverse and involve various kinds of collaborations. I recently completed a thirty-year project on snake drinking that involved periodic collaborations with Beth Brainerd (Brown University), Nate Kley (Stony Brook University), Alex Deufel (Minot State University), and Lehigh undergraduates Doug Grapski and Joe Constantino. I am now analyzing ten years of data on viper striking mechanics and finishing another multiyear project with my wife, Fran Irish, on striking mechanics in booid snakes. Other on-going projects include one on the evolution of drinking mechanisms in snakes (with Fran Irish and past students Joe Constantino, Alex Gray, and Lynn Sladowsky), one on play-like behavior during drinking in snakes, one on measuring snakes (with Alex Deufel and Abigail Pattishall), and one on mandible use during striking in vipers (with Stephen Deban, University of South Florida).




Recent Publications

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Cundall, D. and H. W. Greene. 2000. Feeding in snakes, pp. 293-333. In: Feeding: Form, Function and Evolution in Tetrapod Vertebrates. K. Schwenk (ed.). Academic Press: San Diego .

Adobe Acrobe Reader requiredCundall, D. 2000. Drinking in snakes: kinematic cycling and water transport. Journal of Experimental Biology 203: 2171-2185.

Cundall, D. and S. J. Beaupre. 2001. Field records of predatory strike kinematics in timber rattlesnakes, Crotalus horridus . Amphibia-Reptilia 22:492-498.

Cundall, D. 2002 Envenomation strategies, head form, and feeding ecology in vipers, pp. 149-161. In: Biology of the Vipers, G. Schuett, M. Höggren, M. E. Douglas, and H. W. Greene (eds.). Eagle Mountain Publishing, Utah .

Adobe Acrobat Reader requiredDeufel, A. and D. Cundall. 2003. Feeding in Atractaspis (Serpentes: Atractaspididae): A study in conflicting functional constraints. Zoology 106:43-61.

Deufel, A. and D. Cundall. 2003. Prey transport in "palatine-erecting" elapid snakes. Journal of Morphology 258:358-375.

Cundall, D. and Deufel, A. 2006. Influence of the venom delivery system on intraoral prey transport in snakes. Zool. Anz. 245: 193-210.

Deufel, A. and Cundall, D. 2006. Functional plasticity of the venom delivery system in snakes with a focus on the poststrike prey release behavior. Zool. Anz. 245: 249-267.

Cundall, D., A. Deufel, and F. Irish. 2007. Feeding in boas and pythons: motor recruitment patterns during striking, pp 169-197. In: Biology of the  Boas and Pythons, R. W. Henderson and R. Powell (eds.), Eagle Mountain Publishing.

Adobe Acrobat Reader requiredBuckley, C. A., J. E. Schneider, and D. Cundall. 2007. Kinematic analysis of an appetitive food-handling behavior: the functional morphology of Syrian hamster cheek pouches. J. Exp. Biol. 210:3096-3106.

Pattishall, A. and D. Cundall. 2008. Dynamic changes in body form during swimming in water snakes, Nerodia sipedon. Zoology 111:48-61.

Cundall, D. and F. Irish. 2008. The snake skull, pp. 349-692. In: Biology of the Reptilia, Vol. 20, Morphology H, C. Gans, A. S. Gaunt, and K. Adler (eds.). Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Ithaca, NY.

Pattishall, A. and D. Cundall. 2008. Spatial biology of northern watersnakes (Nerodia sipedon) living along an urban stream. Copeia 2008:752-762.

Cundall, D. 2009. Viper fangs: Functional limitations of extreme teeth. Physiol. Biochem. Zool. 82:63-79

Adobe Acrobat Reader requiredPattishall, A. and D. Cundall. 2009. Habitat use by synurbic watersnakes (Nerodia sipedon). Herpetologica 65, 183-198.

Adobe Acrobat Reader requiredDeufel, A. and D. Cundall. 2010. Functional morphology of the palato-maxillary apparatus in "palatine-dragging" snakes (Serpentes: Elapidae: Acanthophis, Oxyuranus). J. Morphol. 271:73-85.

Adobe Acrobat Reader requiredCundall, D. and A. Pattishall. 2011. Foraging time investment in an urban population of watersnakes (Nerodia sipedon). J. Herpetol. 45:174-177.

Adobe Acrobat Reader requiredCundall, D., B. Brainerd, J. Constantino, A. Deufel, D. Grapski, and N. Kley. 2012. Drinking in snakes: resolving a biomechanical puzzle. J. Exp. Zool. 317:152-172.

Cover Article for the journal, and reviewed in the New Scientist, on the Discovery Channel Canada, and on CBC's nightly current events radio show "As It Happens", which is carried by some NPR stations.

Adobe Acrobat Reader requiredClose, M.T. and D. Cundall. 2012 Mammals as prey: estimating ingestible size. J. Morphol. 273:1042-1049.

Adobe Acrobat Reader requiredClose M. and D. Cundall. 2014. Snake lower jaw skin: Extension and recovery of a hyperextensible keratinized integument. J. Exp. Zool. 321A:78-97.

Adobe Acrobat Reader requiredCundall, D., C. Tuttman and M. Close. 2014. A model of the anterior esophagus in snakes, with functional and developmental implications. Anat. Rec. 297:586-598.

Close, M., S. Perni, C. Franzini-Armstrong, D. Cundall. 2014. Highly extensible skeletal muscle in snakes. J. Exp. Biol. 217, 2445-2448.

Cundall, D. 2014. Review of “How Snakes Work: Structure, Function, and Behavior of the World’s Snakes” by Harvey B. Lillywhite. Herp. Rev. 45:363-366.




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