Alisa J. Winkler

Adjunct Faculty Research Professor





Ph.D., Southern Methodist University
  • Mammalian Paleontology
  • Human Anatomy
  • Functional Anatomy of Small Mammals

Research Statement

Alisa Winkler's research interests focus on the systematics, paleobiogeography, and paleoecology of fossil mammals, in particular rodents and rabbits. Study is concentrated on the Neogene (especially the Early Miocene-Early Pliocene) of East Africa and southeast Asia.

Research in East Africa is primarily in conjunction with multidisciplinary teams studying major faunal accumulations, with an emphasis on recovering hominoid fossils and deciphering the ecological context in which hominoids lived and evolved. Study of the small mammals from these sites adds information on the associated faunal community. Paleoecological inferences from the small mammals aid in the reconstruction of Neogene climates, and the role climate change played in the evolution of hominids and other taxa. Comparisons of East African small mammals with taxa from other parts of Africa and Eurasia support conclusions drawn from the large mammal fauna that intra- and intercontinental dispersal was a major factor affecting community change during the Neogene.

Alisa's current projects include the study of middle Miocene rodents from Maboko Island (with B. Benefit, New Mexico State Univ.) and Bukwa (with E. Miller, Wake Forest Univ.), Kenya. She also continues study of rodents from Kanapoi, northern Kenya (4 Ma; with F. Manthi, National Museums of Kenya), early Miocene sites in Uganda and Kenya (with S. Cote, University of Calgary and L. MacLatchy, University of Michigan), and Tugen Hills sites in central Kenya (15-4 Ma). Work also progresses with the exceptional collection of the hare, Serengetilagus, from Laetoli, Tanzania (4-3 Ma; with Y. Tomida and T. Harrison).

Alisa continues to teach Human Anatomy to Medical and Health Professions Students as an Associate Professor with the Department of Cell Biology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Selected Publications in Vertebrate Paleontology

Winkler, A. J. 2023. Late Miocene and early Pliocene rodents from the Tugen Hills, western Kenya. Pp. 306-331, in (Y.-N. Lee, ed.). Windows into Sauropsid and Synapsid Evolution. Essays in honor of Prof. Louis L. Jacobs. Dinosaur Science Center Press.

MacLatchy, L. M., S. M. Cote, A. L. Deino, R. M. Kityo, A. A. T. Mugume, J. B. Rossie, W. J. Sanders, M. N. Cosman, S. G. Driese, D. L. Fox, A. J. Freeman, R. J. W. Jansma, K. E. H. Jenkins, R. N. Kinyanjui, W. E. Lukens, K. P. McNulty, A. Novello, D. J. Peppe, C. A. E. Strömberg, K. T. Uno, A. J. Winkler, and J. D. Kingston. 2023. The evolution of hominoid locomotor versatility: Evidence from Moroto, a 21 Ma site in Uganda. Science 380 eabq2835.

Kraatz, B., R. Belabbas, L. A. Fostowicz-Frelik, D. Ge, A. N. Kuznetsov, M. M. Lang, S. López-Torres, Z. Mohammadi, R. A. Racicot, M. J. Ravosa, A. C. Sharp, E. Sherratt, M. T. Silcox, J. Stowiak, A. J. Winkler, and I. Ruf. 2021. Lagomorpha as a model morphological system. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution Vol. 9: 1-26. 

Winkler, D. A, and A. J. Winkler. 2020. New records of Late Pleistocene ungulates (Bootherium and Tapirus) from north central Texas. Paludicola 12(4):321-332.

Manthi, F. K, and A. J. Winkler. 2019. Rodents and other terrestrial small mammals from Kanapoi, north-western Kenya. Journal of Human Evolution. 

Cote, S., J. Kingston, A. Deino, A. Winkler, R. Kityo, and L. MacLatchy. 2018. Evidence for rapid faunal change in the early Miocene of East Africa based on revised biostratigraphic and radiometric dating of Bukwa, Uganda. Journal of Human Evolution 116:95-107.

Winkler, A., D. Winkler, and T. Harrison. 2016. Forelimb anatomy of the leporid Serengetilagus from Laetoli, Tanzania: functional and taxonomic implications. Historical Biology 28(1-2):252-263.

Gunnell, G., A. Winkler, E. Miller, J. Head, A. El-Barkooky, M. Gawad, W. Sanders, and P. Gingerich. 2016. Small vertebrates from Khasm El-Raqaba, late Miocene, Eastern Desert, Egypt. Historical Biology 28(1-2):159-171.

Denys, C., and A. Winkler. 2015. Cpt. 7. Advances in integrative taxonomy and evolution of African murid rodents: how morphological trees hide the molecular forest. Pp. 186-220, in (P. Cox and L. Hautier, eds.). Evolution of the Rodents: Advances in Phylogeny, Functional Morphology, and Development. Cambridge Studies in Morphology and Molecules: New Paradigms in Evolutionary Biology, Cambridge University Press.

Flynn, L. J., A. J. Winkler, M. Erbaeva, N. Alexeeva, U. Anders, C. Angelone, S. Cermak, F. A. Fladerer, B. Kraatz, L. Ruedas, I. Ruf, Y. Tomida, K. Veitschegger, Z. Zhang. 2013. The leporid datum: a late Miocene biotic marker. Mammal Review DOI: 10.1111/mam.12016:1-13.

Winkler, A. J., L. J. Flynn, and Y. Tomida. 2011. Fossil lagomorphs from the Potwar Plateau, Pakistan. Palaeontologia Electronica Vol. 14, Issue 3; 38A:1-16.

Winkler, A. J., and Y. Tomida. 2011. Chapter 3. The lower third premolar of Serengetilagus praecapensis (Mammalia: Lagomorpha: Leporidae) from Laetoli, Tanzania. in (T. Harrison, ed.). Paleontology and Geology of Laetoli, Tanzania: Human Evolution in Context. Volume 2: Fossil Hominins and the Associated Fauna. Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology Series, Springer Press.

Winkler, A. J. 2011. Chapter 4. Macroscelidea. in (T. Harrison, ed.). Paleontology and Geology of Laetoli, Tanzania: Human Evolution in Context. Volume 2: Fossil Hominins and the Associated Fauna. Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology Series, Springer Press.

Winkler photo