Jason Bourke is a vertebrate paleontologist whose specialty is functional morphology. He studies the effects of soft tissue reconstructions on the physiological potential of extinct animals. His methods incorporate multiple engineering approaches (e.g., FEA and CFD) to achieve realistic results.

Bourke graduated with a B.S. in biology with a minor in geology from the University of New Mexico in 2006. He worked on an independent research project with faculty at the University of New South Wales, where he trained in finite element analysis, ultimately publishing a paper on bite performance in dingos in 2008. The following year, Bourke joined Larry Witmer’s WitmerLab at Ohio University, where he pursued and completed his Ph.D. Bourke was the first person to use computational fluid dynamics to reconstruct soft tissues in the nasal passages of dinosaurs.

His research is broadly focused on the evolution of thermoregulatory structures in amniotes, with a stronger focus on the vertebrate group, Sauropsida (reptiles and birds). This group is particularly interesting as they encompass both bradymetabolic (“cold-blooded”) and tachymetabolic (“warm-blooded”) animals. Understanding how thermoregulatory structures function under these two very different thermoregulatory regimes aides our understanding of how thermoregulatory structures evolve, and provides a guide to the limitations of thermoregulation within our own species. Bourke’s work involves gross dissections of post-mortem-acquired animals, along with digital reconstructions of anatomy and physiology, using CT imaging, 3-D modeling, and fluid simulation.

Recent Projects/Research

  • Sound production in hadrosaur dinosaurs
  • Heat transfer potential in the nasal passages of reptiles and birds
  • Function of the paranasal sinus system in theropod dinosaurs

Selected Publications

Bourke, J.M., Witmer, L.M. 2016. Nasal Conchae Function as Aerodynamic Baffles: Experimental Computational Fluid Dynamic Analysis in a Turkey Nose (Aves: Galliformes). Resp. Physiol. Neurobiol. 234:32–46.

O'Brien, H.D., Bourke, J. 2015. Physical and Computational Fluid Dynamics Models for the Hemodynamics of the Artiodactyl Carotid Rete. J. Theor. Biol. 386:122–131. (PDF)

Bourke, J.M., Porter, Wm.R., Ridgley, R.C., Lyson, T.R., Schachner, E.R., Bell, P.R., Witmer, L.M. 2014. Breathing Life into Dinosaurs: Tackling Challenges of Soft-Tissue Restoration and Nasal Airflow in Extinct Species. Anat. Rec. 297:2148–2186. (PDF)

Bourke, J., Wroe, S., Moreno, K., McHenry, C., Clausen, P. 2008. Effects of Gape and Tooth Position on Bite Force and Skull Stress in the Dingo (Canis lupus dingo) Using a 3-Dimensional Finite Element Approach. PLOS ONE. 3(5):e2200. (PDF)

Clausen, P., Wroe, S., McHenry, C., Moreno, K., Bourke, J. 2008. The Vector of Jaw Muscle Force as Determined by Computer-Generated Three Dimensional Simulation: A Test of Greaves' Model. J. Biomech. 41:3184–3188. (PDF)

Honors and Awards

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Courses Taught

  • Medical gross anatomy
  • Neuroanatomy

Contact Info