Dr Phil Cox

Senior Lecturer - Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences

Role at Hull York Medical School

Phil is a Senior Lecturer in Anatomy in the Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences.


Phil Cox studied comparative mammalian functional morphology for his PhD in the Museum of Zoology, University of Cambridge. After successfully receiving his doctorate, he moved to the University of Liverpool to undertake a postdoctoral research project on the vestibulo-ocular reflex in mammals with Dr Nathan Jeffery. He remained in Liverpool to conduct a second postdoc, this time on the biomechanics of rodent skulls. In 2012, Phil joined the Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences at Hull York Medical School as a Lecturer and was made Senior Lecturer in 2018.


My research is principally concerned with the mammalian skull and how it has been shaped by both evolution and function. He is particularly interested in how the forces generated by feeding can influence cranial morphology. I investigate these issues using a number of techniques such as geometric morphometrics and finite element analysis. I am fascinated by all mammals, with my PhD research taking the form of a large study comparing the different groups of placental mammals. However, my current research is particularly focused on the rodents, as they display unique and highly specialised adaptations of the teeth and masticatory muscles. I am also interested in the use of medical imaging in comparative anatomy, and was involved in the development of diceCT, a technique for visualising soft tissues via iodine staining and microCT scanning.


Phil teaches anatomy in Phase 1 of the undergraduate medical curriculum, with a focus on the thorax and neuroanatomy, via lectures and practical classes. He is also module lead for Primate Ecology and Evolution on the MSc in Human Evolution, as well as co-ordinator for the MSc research projects.


Phil's full publications list is available on Google Scholar and the York Research Database.

Selected publications

Morris PJR, Cobb SNF, Cox PG (2018) Convergent evolution in the Euarchontoglires. Biology Letters 14: 20180366.

Gignac PM, Kley NJ, Clarke JA, Colbert MW, Morhardt AC, Cerio D, Cost IN, Cox PG, Daza JD, Early CM, Echols MS, Henkelman RM, Herdina AN, Holliday CM, Li Z, Mahlow K, Merchant S, Müller J, Orsborn C, Paluh DJ, Thies ML, Tsai HP, Witmer LM (2016) Diffusible iodine-based contrast-enhanced computed tomography (diceCT): an emerging tool for rapid, high-resolution, 3-D imaging of metazoan soft tissues. Journal of Anatomy 228: 889-909.

Cox PG, Rayfield EJ, Fagan MJ, Herrel A, Pataky TC, Jeffery N (2012). Functional evolution of the feeding system in rodents. PLoS ONE 7(4): e36299.

Cox PG, Jeffery N (2011). Reviewing the morphology of the jaw-closing musculature in squirrels, rats and guinea pigs with contrast-enhanced microCT. Anatomical Record Part A 294: 915-928. [cover article]

Jeffery NS, Stephenson R, Gallagher JA, Jarvis JE, Cox PG (2011). Micro-computed tomography with iodine staining resolves the arrangement of muscle fibres. Journal of Biomechanics 44: 189-192.

Postgraduate research supervision

If you are interested in doing a PhD with me, please send me an email at philip.cox@hyms.ac.uk. I am particularly interested in supervising projects relating to mammalian evolution, functional morphology of the skull, and feeding biomechanics. I am very happy to discuss potential funding opportunities with prospective students and help them put together applications.