William E. Bemis

Emeritus Professor

Photograph of First Last

B.A., Cornell University, 1976

M.S., University of Michigan, 1978

Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 1982


1983-1984 University of Chicago

1990-1991 Scripps Institute of Oceanography

1991 Field Museum of Natural History

Research Interests: 

Phylogenetic Systematics And Anatomy of Fishes

I am interested in comparative anatomy, embryology, and evolution of vertebrates.  I seek to contribute data to basic questions in phylogenetic systematics of fishes.  Another objective is to make side-by-side comparisons of closely related Recent and fossil fishes to enhance both paleontology and neontology.  Lungfishes, coelacanths, and basal ray finned fishes including bichirs, ropefishes, sturgeons, paddlefishes, gars, and bowfins, particularly interest me.  I ask comparative questions, such as:  What does the histology of the skin of Recent lungfishes say about the organization of the dermal skeleton of Devonian lungfishes? or:  from comparative embryological study of paddlefishes, gars, bowfins and teleosts, is it possible to identify teleost-specific patterns of development of the adenohypophysis?  I use anatomical techniques such as LM histology and SEM.  Current projects with Lance Grande (Field Museum, Chicago) concern the systematics of fossil and living gars. Students are encouraged to develop expertise in the anatomy and systematics of groups of fishes, and combine study of conventional phylogenetic characters (i.e., skeleton) with study of less conventional characters (i.e., cranial nerve development).

Representative Publications: 

McGuire, B., T. Pizzuto, W.E. Bemis and L.L. Getz. 2005. General ecology of a rural population of Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) based on intensive live trapping. American Midland Naturalist (in press)

Bemis, W.E., A. Giuliano, and B. McGuire. 2005. Structure, attachment, replacement and growth of teeth in bluefish, Pomatomus saltatrix (Linnaeus, 1766), a teleost with deeply socketed teeth. Zoology, 108: 317-327.

Hilton, E.J., L. Grande and W.E. Bemis. 2005. Grouped tooth replacement in the oral jaws of the Tripletail, Lobotes surinamensis (Perciformes: Lobotidae), with a discussion of its proposed relationship to Datnioides. Copeia, 2005: 665-672.

Hilton, E.J., L. Grande and W.E. Bemis. 2004. Morphology of ÜCoccolepis bucklandi Agassiz 1843 (Actinopterygii, Coccolepidae) from the Solnhofen lithographic limestone deposits (Upper Jurassic, Germany). IN: Mesozoic Fishes 3 ñ Systematics, Paleoenvironments and Biodiversity. G. Arratia and A. Tintori (eds.). Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil: M¸nchen, Germany. pp. 209-238.

Little, C.D. and W.E. Bemis. 2004. Observations on the skeleton of the heterocercal tail of sharks (Chondrichthyes: Elasmobranchii). IN: Recent Advances in the Origin and Early Radiation of Vertebrates. G. Arratia, M.V.H. Wilson and R. Cloutier (eds.). Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil: M¸nchen, Germany. pp. 563-573.

Bemis, W.E., E.J. Hilton, B. Brown, R. Arrindell, A.M. Richmond, C.D. Little, L. Grande, P.L. Forey and G.J. Nelson. 2004. Methods for preparing dry, partially articulated skeletons of osteichthyans, with notes on making Ridewood dissections of the cranial skeleton. Copeia 2004: 603-609.

McGuire, B., E. Henyey, E. McCue and W.E. Bemis. 2003. Parental behavior at parturition in prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster). Journal of Mammalogy, 84: 513-523.

Grande, L., J. Fan, Y. Yabumoto, and W.E. Bemis. 2002. ›Protopsephurus liui, a well-preserved primitive paddlefish (Acipenseriformes: Polyodontidae) from the early Cretaceous of China. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 22: 209-237.

Liem, K.F., W.E. Bemis, W.F. Walker, Jr. and L. Grande. 2001. Functional Vertebrate Anatomy, 3rd Edition. Harcourt College Publishers, Philadelphia. Pages 1-703.

Bemis, W.E. and P.L. Forey. 2000. Occipital structure and the posterior limits of the skull in actinopterygians. Pages 41-62. In Development, Paleontology and Evolution. (P. Ahlberg, ed.). Taylor and Francis, London.

Grande, L. and W.E. Bemis. 1999. Historical biogeography and historical paleoecology of Amiidae and other halecomorph fishes. IN: Mesozoic Fishes II. Systematics and the Fossil Record (G. Arratia and H.-P. Schultze, eds.). Munich: Pfeil. pp. 413-424.

Hilton, E. J. and W.E. Bemis. 1999. Skeletal variation in shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) from the Connecticut River: Implications for the study of fossil fishes. IN: Mesozoic Fishes II. Systematics and the Fossil Record (G. Arratia and H.-P. Schultze, eds.). Munich: Pfeil. pp. 69-94.

Bemis, W.E. and L. Grande. 1999. Development of the median fins of the North American paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) with comments on the lateral fin-fold hypothesis. IN: Mesozoic Fishes II. Systematics and the Fossil Record (G. Arratia and H.-P. Schultze, eds.) Munich: Pfeil. pp. 41-68.

Grande, L. and W.E. Bemis. 1998. A Comprehensive Phylogenetic Study of Amiid Fishes (Amiidae) Based On Comparative Skeletal Anatomy. An Empirical Search for Interconnected Patterns of Natural History. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Special Memoir #4 (supplement to Volume 18). Pages 1-700.

Bemis, W.E. and B. Kynard. 1997. Sturgeon rivers: an introduction to acipenseriform biogeography and life history. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 48: 167-183.

Bemis, W.E., E. K. Findeis and L. Grande. 1997. An overview of Acipenseriformes. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 48: 25-71.

Birstein, V.J., J.R. Waldman and W.E. Bemis. (eds.) 1997. Sturgeon Biodiversity and Conservation. Reprinted from Environmental Biology of Fishes 48(1-4): 1-444. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.

Grande, L. and W.E. Bemis. 1996. Interrelationships of Acipenseriformes with comments on "Chondrostei". pages 85-115. In: M.L.J. Stiassny, L.R. Parenti & G.D. Johnson (eds.) Interrelationships of Fishes. Academic Press, New York.

Northcutt, R.G. and W.E. Bemis. 1993. Cranial Nerves of the Coelacanth Latimeria chalumnae  [Osteichthyes: Sarcopterygii: Actinistia] and Comparisons with other Craniata. Brain, Behavior and Evolution (supplement 1 to Volume 42) Pages 1-76.

Bemis, W.E. and L. Grande. 1992. Early development of the actinopterygian head. I. General observations and comments on staging of the paddlefish, Polyodon spathula. J. Morphol., 213: 47-83.

Bemis, W.E. and R.G .Northcutt. 1992. Vasculature in the snout of the Australian lungfish and its significance for interpreting the cosmine of Devonian lungfishes. Acta Zool., 73: 115-139.

Burggren, W.W. and W.E. Bemis. 1992. Ram ventilation in the paddlefish, Polyodon spathula. Physiol. Zool., 65: 515-539.

Grande, L. and W.E. Bemis. 1991. Osteology and Phylogenetic Relationships of Fossil and Recent Paddlefishes (Polyodontidae) with Comment on the Interrelationships of Acipenseriformes. J. Vertebrate Paleontology, Special Memoir Number 1 (supplement to Volume 11). Pages 1-121.

Bemis, W.E. and R.G. Northcutt. 1991. Innervation of the basicranial muscle of Latimeria chalumnae. Environ. Biol. Fishes, 32: 147-158.

Pelster, B and W.E. Bemis. 1991. Ontogeny of heart function in the little skate, Raja erinacea. J. Exp. Biol., 156: 387-398.

Findeis, E.K. and W.E. Bemis. 1990. Evolutionary morphology of tongue projection in Taricha torosa (Urodela: Salmandridae). Zool. J. Linn. Soc., 99: 129-157.

Bemis, W.E., W.W. Burggren and N.E. Kemp. (eds.) 1987. The Biology and Evolution of Lungfishes. Alan Liss, NY. Pages 1-383. (Simultaneously published as the Centennial Supplement to the Journal of Morphology).

Bemis, W.E.  1984. Paedomorphosis and the evolution of the Dipnoi. Paleobiology, 10: 293-307.