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Assistant Professor

University of Central Oklahoma

Education and Certifications

Ph.D., Paleontology, University of Utah (2019)

M.S., Paleontology, University of Utah (2016)

B.S. with Distinction and Honors, Geological Sciences, University of Michigan (2012)


Keegan Melstrom completed his B.S. at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and his M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Between undergraduate and graduate school, he worked as a fossil preparator at Ohio University in Athens. Following graduate school, he was a postdoctoral researcher in the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. He worked briefly at Rose State College and joined the Biology Department at the University of Central Oklahoma in 2023. Melstrom is a paleontologist interested in the role dietary ecology plays in the evolution and extinction of organisms. In particular, Melstrom investigates the teeth and skulls of animals ranging from living lizards and crocodylians to extinct dinosaurs and crocodile relatives. To accomplish this, he uses 3D scanning techniques including photogrammetry, handheld scanners and CT scans, as well as various morphometric methods. Ultimately, his work can be applied to living organisms to see what ecological traits may make species more vulnerable for extinction.

Classes Taught

Human Physiology (BIO 2604)

Research, Published Work, and Scholarly Activities

Fischer, V., Bennion, R. F., Foffa, D., MacLaren, J. A, McCurry, M. R., Melstrom, K. M., and Bardet, N. 2022. Ecological signal in the size and shape of marine amniote teeth. Proceedings of the Royal Academy B. 289:20221214.

Melstrom, K. M. and Wistort, Z. P. 2021. The application of dental complexity metrics on extant saurians. Herpetologica. 77:279–288.

Melstrom, K. M., Chiappe, L. M, and Smith, N. D. 2021. Exceptionally simple teeth in sauropod dinosaurs demonstrate a novel approach to herbivory in during the Late Jurassic. BMC Ecology and Evolution. 21:202.

Melstrom, K. M., Turner, A. H., and Irmis, R. B. 2021. Re-Evaluation of the cranial osteology, endocranial anatomy, and phylogenetic position of the early crocodyliform Eopneumatosuchus colberti. The Anatomical Record. 

Melstrom, K. M., Angielczyk, K. D., Ritterbush, K. A., and Irmis, R. B. 2021. The limits of convergence: the roles of phylogeny and dietary ecology in shaping non-avian amniote skulls. Royal Society Open Science. 8:202145.

Christensen, K.* and  Melstrom, K. M. 2021. Quantitative analyses of squamate dentition demonstrate novel morphological patterns. PLoS ONE. 16:e0257427 

Melstrom, K.M. and Irmis, R.B. 2019. Repeated evolution of herbivorous crocodyliforms during the age of dinosaurs. Current Biology. 29: 2389–2395.

Goodwin, M.B., Irmis, R.B., Wilson, G.P., DeMar, Jr., D.G., Melstrom, K.M., Rasmussen, C., Atnafu, B., Alemu, T., Alemayehu, M., and Getachew, S. 2019. The first confirmed sauropod dinosaur from Ethiopia discovered in the Upper Jurassic (Tithonian) Mugher Mudstone. Journal of African Earth Sciences.

Melstrom, K.M. 2017. The relationship between diet and tooth complexity in living dentigerous saurians. Journal of Morphology. 278:500–522.

Melstrom, K.M., D’Emic, M.D., Chure, D.J., and Wilson, J.A. 2016. A juvenile sauropod dinosaur from the Late Jurassic of Utah, USA, presents further evidence of an avian style air-sac system. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology e1111898.

D’Emic, M.D., Melstrom, K.M., and Eddy, D. 2012. Paleobiology and geographic range of the large-bodied Cretaceous theropod dinosaur, Acrocanthosaurus atokensis. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 333–334:13–23.

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