I am always working toward a better implementation of Network Theory to study the evolution and development of anatomy and morphology: improving the morphological interpretation of concepts from network sciences and testing new methods of analysis.

  • Esteve-Altava B. 2017. Challenges in identifying and interpreting organizational modules in morphology. Journal of Morphology. DOI: 10.1002/jmor.20690
  • Rasskin-Gutman D, Esteve-Altava B. 2014. Connecting the dots: anatomical network analysis in morphological EvoDevo. Biological Theory 9: 178-193.


Macroevolutionary studies benefit from the level of abstraction offered by AnNA and there are still many possibilities of study in this context (in addition to what has been already done!). I am particularly interested in the study of the evolution of morphological complexity and modularity in the skull of vertebrates, and how it is related to the evolutionary trend toward skull with fewer number of bones (Williston’s Law). I am also studying the evolution of the tetrapod limbs during the fin-to-limb transition in the Devonian Period. Specifically, how the morphological modularity of the limb has changed in its way from water to land.

  • Esteve-Altava B, Marugán-Lobón J, Botella H, Rasskin-Gutman D. 2013. Structural constraints in the evolution of the tetrapod skull complexity: Williston’s Law revisited using network models. Evolutionary Biology 40: 209-219.
  • Diogo R, Johnston P, Molnar JL, Esteve-Altava B. 2016. Characteristic tetrapod musculoskeletal limb phenotype emerged more than 400 MYA in basal lobe-finned fishes. Scientific Reports 6: 37592.


I am interested in the study of craniofacial anomalies in humans and how they are related to evolutionary processes. For example, I study the premature fusion of bones in newborns (craniosynostosis) in an evo-devo context using AnNA.

  • Esteve-Altava B, Vallès Català T, Guimerà R, Sales-Pardo M, Rasskin-Gutman D. 2017. Bone fusion in normal and pathological development is constrained by the network architecture of the human skull. Scientific Reports, In press.
  • Esteve-Altava B, Rasskin-Gutman D. 2014. Beyond the functional matrix hypothesis: A network null model of human skull growth for the formation of bone articulations. Journal of Anatomy 225: 306-16.


I am also involved in research plans to study human and primates morphological evolution and normal development, including skeletal and muscular information.

  • Esteve-Altava B, Diogo R, Smith C, Boughner JC, Rasskin-Gutman D. 2015. Anatomical networks reveal the musculoskeletal modularity of the human head. Scientific Reports 5: 8298.
  • Esteve-Altava B, Boughner JC, Diogo R, Villmoare BA, Rasskin-Gutman D. 2015. Anatomical network analysis shows decoupling of modular lability and complexity in the evolution of the primate skull. PLoS ONE 10(5): e0127653.


I have focused my research in this topic on the study of macroevolutionary patterns in morphology; in particular, in explaining and quantifying directional patterns of evolution and the evolution of modularity.

  • Esteve-Altava B. 2016. In search of morphological modules: a systematic review. Biological Reviews. DOI: 10.1111/brv.12284
  • Rasskin-Gutman D, Esteve-Altava B. 2008. The multiple directions of evolutionary change. BioEssays 30: 521-525.