Magdalena Muchlinski

Muchlinski Photo


Magdalena N. Muchlinski, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Center for Anatomical Sciences
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
University of North Texas Health Science Center
Ft. Worth, TX 76107


Ph.D. Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin (2008).
M.A. Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin (2002).
B.A. Anthropology, University of California Santa Cruz (1999).


Curriculum Vitae


Dr. Muchlinski’s research focuses on primate bioenergetics and sensory ecology within an anthropological framework. Specifically, this work concentrates on how the selective pressures imposed by differences in feeding ecology shape the anatomy, physiology, and evolution of both non-human primates and humans.

She is currently involved in two ongoing research projects:

The first focuses on the interaction between brain size and the evolution of metabolic strategies. Primates have larger brains than most non-primate mammals, yet we do not have significantly different overall metabolic requirements for our body size. The allocation of caloric resources throughout an organism depends on 1) body composition and 2) variation in the metabolic rate of particular tissues resulting from changes in vasculature, mitochondrial density, and gene activity. The Energy Trade-Off Hypothesis predicts that large-brained animals can maintain a balanced energy budget by offsetting the increased metabolic cost associated with a large brain, with reductions in the size of other costly tissues (for example, gastrointestinal tract). Her work shows that all primates, (including humans), are under-muscled compared to most non-primate mammals. To better understand this phenomenon, her current research asks the following three questions: 1) Does relative muscle mass vary with brain size in primates? 2) Does muscle fiber composition correlate with relative brain size in primates? And 3) Is there a peak in muscle growth soon after brain growth is complete?  Her findings show that there is, in fact, a negative correlation between brain size and muscle mass in primates and the mammals sampled. These results are further supported by a negative correlation between Type-I muscle fibers and brain size. Type-I muscle fibers are different from other muscle fibers (for example Type-II and IIx), because Type-I fibers use more oxygen and are able to produce the most adenosine triphosphate (energy) from glucose. The brain also requires a significant amount of glucose. Thus, animals with larger brains (and therefore higher glucose demands) are expected to have less muscle and a lower percent of Type-I muscle fibers than animals with smaller brains. Overall, primates have fewer Type-I fibers than non-primate mammals. Ultimately, this research has implications for both human evolution and human health (for instance, Type-II diabetes research).

The second project is a collaborative effort focusing on midfacial growth trajectories in sub-adult primates. With her colleagues, she is exploring the anatomical and developmental basis of the documented sensory trade-off between olfaction and the visual system. This study applies traditional (histology) and modern (Computed Tomography Imaging) approaches to the analysis of facial growth/reduction in primates, with a focus on the connections between anatomy (nasal and orbital regions) and evolutionary factors such as stereoscopic vision, diet, and life history. Preliminary results indicate that a relatively long gestation period in primates is not only tied to an extended period of brain development, but also to an extended period of visual system development because the eye is essentially an outgrowth of the brain.


Selected Publications

Muchlinski MN and Kirk EC.  2016 (in press). A comparative analysis of infraorbital foramen size in Paleogene euarchontans. Journal of Human Evolution

Muchlinski MN and Deane AS. 2016. Dietary correlates associated with the mental foramen in primates. Anatomical Records. DOI: 10.1002/jmor.20553

Spriggs A, Muchlinski MN, Gordon A. 2016. Does the primate pattern hold up? Testing the functional significance of infraorbital foramen size variation among marsupials. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 160(1): 30–40.

Smith TD, Muchlinski MN, Jankord K, Progar A, Bonar C, Evans S, Williams L, Keeling ME, Vinyard C, DeLeon, V. 2015. Dental maturation, eruption, and gingival emergence in the upper jaw of newborn primates. Anatomical Record 298(12): 2098-2131. DOI: 10.1002/ar.23273

Smith TD, Muchlinski MN, Bhatnagar KP, Durham EL, Bonar CJ, Burrows AM. 2014.  The vomeronasal organ of Lemur catta. American Journal of Primatology. DOI: 10.1002/ajp.22326

Deane AS, Russo G, Muchlinski MN, Organ JM.  2014. Can caudal vertebral body articular surface shape discriminate among prehensile and non-prehensile tailed anthropoids? Journal of Morphology. DOI: 10.1002/jmor.20304

Muchlinski MN and Deane AS. 2014. How strong is the frugivory signal?  The interpretive power of infraorbital foramen area in making dietary inferences in extant apes.  Anatomical Record. DOI: 10.1002/ar.22953

Muchlinski MN, Durham EL, Smith TD, Burrows AM. 2013. Comparative histomorphology of intrinsic musculature of vibrissae among primates: implications for sensory ecology. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 150(2): 301-312. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22206

Muchlinski MN, Snodgrass JJ, and Terranova CJ. 2012. Muscle mass scaling in primates: An energetic and ecological perspective.  American Journal of Primatology 74:395-407.

Cummings J, Muchlinski MN, Kirk EC, Rehorek SJ, DeLeon VB, Smith TD.  2012.  Eye size at birth in prosimian primates: life history correlates and growth patterns.  PLoS One 7(5):e36097.

Muchlinski MN2012.  Primate origins: connecting the dots between ecology, behavior, and anatomy. Journal of Primatology 1: e110. doi:10.4172/jpmt.1000e110

Muchlinski MN, Godfrey LR, Muldoon KM, Tongasoa L.  2011. Evidence for dietary niche separation based on infraorbital foramen size variation among subfossil lemurs.  Folia Primatologica. 81(6): 330-345

Muchlinski MN, Paesani SM, Burrow AM, Smith TD, Alport LJ. 2011. Behavioral and ecological consequences of sex based differences in taste bud densities in Cebus apella. Anatomical Records 294(12): 2179-2192.

Muchlinski MN.2010Ecological correlates of infraorbital foramen area in primates. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.  141(1): 131-141

Muchlinski MN. 2010.  A comparative analysis of vibrissa count and infraorbital foramen area in primates and other mammals.  Journal of Human Evolution 58: 447-473

Muchlinski MN.2008. The infraorbital foramen, infraorbital nerve, and maxillary mechanoreception: Implications of interpreting the paleoecology of fossil mammals based on infraorbital foramen size. The Anatomical Record 291:1221–1226



At UNTHSC, Dr. Muchlinski teaches dissection-based anatomy to Medical, Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant, and Graduate students.

Courses Taught

MEDE 7811: Musculoskeletal and Skin Systems 1 (medical students).
MEDE 7812: Nervous System 1 (medical students).
MEDE 7615: Cardiopulmonary System 1 (medical students).
MEDE 7611: Gastrointestinal & Renal Systems 1 (medical students).
MEDE 7715: Reproductive & Endocrine Systems 1 (medical students).
DPHT 7200 & 7400: Clinical Anatomy 1 & 2 (Physical therapy students).
MPAS 5401 & 5208: Clinical Anatomy 1 & 2 (Physician assistant students).

This page was last modified on December 21, 2017