Magdalena Muchlinski

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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., Biological Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin (2008)
M.A., Biological Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin (2002)
B.A., Anthropology with Honors, University of California – Santa Cruz (2002)

Curriculum Vitae

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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).
Magda Research
The second project is a collaborate effort focusing on discriminate touch in primates and carnivores. Touch is one of the fundamental ways that primates interact with the external world. For primates, including humans, manual discriminative touch (e.g., the ability to detect shapes, textures, vibration, and object movement with the hands) is critical in acquiring and assessing food, engaging in social grooming, and moving in trees. Unlike most mammals, primates are characterized by prehensile hands with tactile finger pads which improve grasping and object manipulation. The ability to detect differences in object vibration, shape, and movement is especially important for primates that engage in complex foraging behaviors such as tool use. While  hand anatomy and biomechanics (e.g., precision grip) has been studied for decades, fewer studies have focused on the functional morphology of discriminative touch. This, in part, is a result of even fewer wild behavioral studies documenting the use of discriminative touch during foraging. The molecular basis of touch is only just being uncovered; researchers have only recently identified genes suspected to contribute to detecting tactile stimuli. The primary goal of our current research is to unite anatomical, molecular, and behavioral approaches to investigate the ecology and evolution of primate discriminative touch within a comparative framework. This work will offer insight into both the mosaic fashion in which primate grasping evolved and adaptations involved in the evolution of tool use. Moreover, by investigating gene expression in primate hands, we may be able to identify novel candidate genes associated with discriminative touch. The Muchlinski labs primary objectives for this project is to examine the phenotype of discriminative touch using histomorphology, while my collaborates Drs. Veilleux and Melin foci are genetics and behavior respectively. Our research is the first study to examine the relationship between anatomy, genetics, and behavior across the primate order.

Selected Publications

  • Muchlinski MN, Wible JR, Corfe I, Luo ZX, Sullivan M, Grant RA.  In Press. Good Vibrations: the evolution of whisking in small mammals.  Anatomical Record
  • Muchlinski MN, Hammond AS, Deane AS, Purcell M, Hemingway HW, HantkeG, Pastor J, Garrosa M, Hartstone-Rose A. 2018. Brief Communication: The ligamentum teres femoris in Orangutans. American Journal of Physical Anthropology
  • Muchlinski MN, Hemingway H, Pastor J, Burrows AM. 2018. How the brain may have shaped muscle anatomy and physiology: a preliminary study. Anatomical Record
  • Smith TD, Muchlinski MN, Bucher WR, Vinyard CJ, Bonar CJ, Evans S, Williams L, DeLeon VB. 2017. Relative tooth size at birth in primates: Life history and dietary correlates. American Association of Physical Anthropology 164(3):623-634.
  • Muchlinski MN and Kirk EC.  2017. A comparative analysis of infraorbital foramen size in Paleogene euarchontans. Journal of Human Evolution 105:57-68
  • Muchlinski MN and Kirk EC.  2016. 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 10, 2018