Dr Phil Cox

Senior Lecturer - Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences

Role at Hull York Medical School

Phil is a Lecturer in Physiology 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 HYMS as a Lecturer in Physiology.


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, and much of my work has taken the form of large studies comparing the different eutherian orders. 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 contrast-enhanced microCT, a technique for visualising soft tissues via microCT scanning.

For more details, please visit www.drphilcox.co.uk

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.

Currently available PhD projects

Functional morphology, ecological diversity, and extinction of the multituberculates

This is a HYMS-funded Graduate Teaching Assistant position co-supervised by Dr Sam Cobb (HYMS) and Dr Ian Corfe (University of Helsinki). The successful candidate will be expected to contribute teaching support to the medical curriculum (anatomy and physiology labs) and to the MSc in Human Anatomy and Evolution. Details of the project and how to apply can be found at this link.


Phil teaches physiology in Phase 1 of the undergraduate medical curriculum, mostly via 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.


Journal articles

Pataky TC, Koseki M, Cox PG (2016) Probabilistic biomechanical finite element simulations: whole-model classical hypothesis testing based on upcrossing geometry. PeerJ Computer Science 2: e96.

McIntosh AF, Cox PG (2016) The impact of digging on craniodental morphology and integration. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 29: 2383-2394.

McIntosh AF, Cox PG (2016) The impact of gape on the performance of the skull in chisel-tooth digging and scratch digging mole-rats (Rodentia: Bathyergidae). Royal Society Open Science 3: 160568.

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.

McIntosh AF, Cox PG (2016) Functional implications of craniomandibular morphology in African mole-rats (Rodentia: Bathyergidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 117: 447-462.

Cox PG, Baverstock H (2016) Masticatory muscle anatomy and feeding efficiency of the American beaver, Castor canadensis (Rodentia, Castoridae). Journal of Mammalian Evolution 23: 191-200.

Blanco RE, Rinderknecht (2015) Predicting bite force and cranial biomechanics in the largest fossil rodent using finite element analysis. Journal of Anatomy 226: 215-223. [cover article]

Cox PG, Faulkes CG (2014) The masticatory muscles of the naked mole-rat,Heterocephalus glaber (Mammalia, Rodentia). PeerJ 2: e448.

Cox PG, Kirkham J, Herrel A (2013) Masticatory biomechanics of the Laotian rock rat, Laonastes aenigmamus, and the function of the zygomaticomandibularis muscle. PeerJ 1: e160.

O'Hare LMS, Cox PG, Jeffery N, Singer ER (2013). Finite element analysis of stress in the equine proximal phalanx. Equine Veterinary Journal, 45: 273-277.

Hautier L, Lebrun R, Cox PG (2012) Patterns of covariation in the masticatory apparatus of hystricognathous rodents: implications for evolution and diversification. Journal of Morphology 273: 1319-1337.

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, Fagan MJ, Rayfield EJ, Jeffery N (2011). Finite element modelling of squirrel, guinea pig and rat skulls: using geometric morphometrics to assess sensitivity.Journal of Anatomy 219: 696-709.

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.

Jeffery N, Cox PG (2010). Do agility and skull architecture influence geometry of the mammalian vestibulo-ocular reflex? Journal of Anatomy 216: 496-509.

Cox PG, Jeffery N (2010). Semicircular canals and agility: the influence of size and shape data. Journal of Anatomy 216: 37-47.

Cox PG, Jeffery N (2008). Geometry of the semicircular canals and extraocular muscles in rodents, lagomorphs, felids and modern humans. Journal of Anatomy 213: 583-596.

Cox PG (2008). A quantitative analysis of the eutherian orbit: correlations with masticatory apparatus. Biological Reviews83: 35-69. [cover article]

Cox PG, Jeffery N (2007). Morphology of the mammalian vestibulo-ocular reflex: the spatial arrangement of the human fetal semicircular canals and extraocular muscles. Journal of Morphology 268: 878-890.

Cox PG (2006). Character evolution in the orbital region of the Afrotheria. Journal of Zoology 269: 514-526

Edited volumes

Cox PG, Hautier L (2015) Evolution of the Rodents: Advances in Phylogeny, Functional Morphology and Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 611pp.

Book chapters

Hautier L, Cox PG (2015) Rodentia: a model order? In: Evolution of the Rodents: Advances in Phylogeny, Functional Morphology and Development. (eds. Cox PG, Hautier L) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-18.

Hautier L, Cox PG, Lebrun R (2015) Grades and clades among rodents: the promise of geometric morphometrics. In: Evolution of the Rodents: Advances in Phylogeny, Functional Morphology and Development. (eds. Cox PG, Hautier L) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 277-299.

Cox PG, Jeffery N (2015) The muscles of mastication in rodents and the function of the medial pterygoid. In: Evolution of the Rodents: Advances in Phylogeny, Functional Morphology and Development. (eds. Cox PG, Hautier L) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 350-372.