Research Professor

Contact InformationChris Organ

Office:   Traphagen Hall # 200
Phone:   406-994-6658
Lab: Traphagen Hall # 200
Lab Phone:

MSU Macroevolution Lab

Office Hours



B.S., Michigan State University, Material Science

Ph.D., Montana State University, Biological Sciences

Research Interests

Macroevolution, phylogenetic methods, paleogenomics, and genome biology.


Current Graduate Students

Jacob Gardner (PhD)


Selected Publications

Jun Liu, J., C. L. Organ, M. J. Benton, M. C. Brandley, and J. C. Aitchison (2017). Live birth in an archosauromorph reptile. Nature Communications: 14445. doi:10.1038/ncomms14445.


Gates, T. D., C. L. Organ, and L. Zanno. (2016). Bony cranial ornamentation linked to rapid evolution of gigantic theropod dinosaurs. Nature Communications. doi: 10.1038/ncomms12931.


Organ, C. L., M. Struble, A. Canoville, V. de Buffrénil, and M. Laurin. (2016). Macroevolution of genome size in sarcopterygians during the water-land transition. Comptes Rendus Palevol. 15: 67-75.


Organ, C. L., L. N. Cooper, and T. L. Hieronymus. (2015) Macroevolutionary developmental biology: embryos, fossils, and phylogenies. Developmental Dynamics. doi:10.1002/dvdy.24318.


Rashid, D. J., Chapman, S. C., Larsson, H. C. E., Organ, C. L., Bebin, A.-G., Merzdorf, C., Bradley, R., and J. R. Horner. (2014). From dinosaurs to birds: a tail of evolution. EvoDevo.  5:25.


Wu, S., F. Zhang, S. V. Edwards, J. Ye, W. Wu, X. Ni, C. Quan, J. Meng, C. Organ. (2014). The evolution of bipedalism in jerboas (rodentia: dipodoidea): origin in humid and forested environments. Evolution. 68-7: 2108–2118.


Amemiya, C. T. et. al. (2013). Comparative analysis of the genome of the African coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae, sheds light on tetrapod evolution. Nature. (496): 311-316. *Cover article.


25. Organ, C. L., Z. Machanda, R. Wrangham, and C. Nunn. (2011). Phylogenetic rate shifts in chewing time during the evolution of Homo. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 108 (35): 14555-14559.


Alfoldi, J. et. al. (2011). The genome of the green anole lizard and a comparative analysis with birds and mammals. Nature. 477(7366): 587-591.


Janes, D.E., C. Chapus, Y. Gondo, D.F. Clayton, S. Sinha, C. A. Blatti, C.L. Organ, M. Fujita, C.N. Balakrishnan, and S.V. Edwards (2011). Reptiles and mammals have differentially retained long conserved noncoding sequences from the amniote ancestor. Genome Biology and Evolution. 3: 102-113.


Organ, C. L., A. Canoville, R. R. Reisz, and M. Laurin. (2011). Paleogenomic data suggest mammal-like genome size in the ancestral amniote and derived large genome size in amphibians. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 24: 372–380.


Janes, D. E., C. L. Organ, and S. V. Edwards. (2010). Variability in sex-determining mechanisms influences genome complexity in reptiles. Cytogenetic and Genome Research. 127:242-248.


Organ, C. L.*, M. Rasmussen*, M. W. Baldwin, M. Kellis, and S. V. Edwards (2010). A Phylogenomic Approach to the Evolutionary Dynamics of Gene Duplication in Birds. In Evolution After Gene Duplication. (Eds.) K. Dittmar and D. Liberles. Wiley & Sons. 253-268. *contributed equally.


Baldwin, M. W., Winkler, H., Organ, C. L., Helm, B. (2010). Wing pointedness associated with migratory distance in common-garden and comparative studies of stonechats (Saxicola torquata). Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 23(5):1050-1063.


Organ, C. L., D. E. Janes, A. Meade, and M. Pagel (2009). Genotypic sex determination enabled adaptive radiations of extinct marine reptiles. Nature. 461: 389-392. [selected as a “must read” at the Faculty of 1000]


Schweitzer, M. H., W. Zheng, C. L. Organ, R. Avci, Z. Suo, L. M. Freimark,  V. S. Lebleu, M. B. Duncan, M. G. Vander Heiden, J. M. Neveu, W. S. Lane, J. S. Cottrell, J. R. Horner, L. C. Cantley,  R. Kalluri, and J. M. Asara (2009). Biomolecular characterization and protein sequences of the Campanian hadrosaur B. canadensis. Science. 324: 626-361.


Organ, C. L., R. Godinez Moreno, and S. V. Edwards (2008). Three tiers of genome evolution in reptiles. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 48(4): 494-504.


Organ, C. L. and D. Janes (2008). Evolution of sex chromosomes in Sauropsida. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 48(4): 512-519.


Organ, C. L., M. H. Schweitzer, W. Zheng, L. M. Freimark, L. C. Cantley, J. M. Asara (2008). Molecular phylogenetics of mastodon and Tyrannosaurus rex. Science. 320 (5875): 499.


Organ, C. L., A. M. Shedlock, A. Meade, M. Pagel, S. V. Edwards. (2007). Origin of avian genome size and structure in non-avian dinosaurs. Nature. 446: 180-184.


Organ, C. L. (2006). Biomechanics of ossified tendons in ornithopod dinosaurs. Paleobiology. 32(4): 649–662.


Organ, C. L. (2006). Thoracic epaxial muscles in living archosaurs and ornithopod dinosaurs. The Anatomical Record Part A: Discoveries in Molecular, Cellular, and Evolutionary Biology. 288A: 782-793.


Organ, C. L. and J. Adams. (2005). The histology of ossified tendon in dinosaurs. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.  25 (3): 602-613.


Adams, J. and C. L. Organ. (2005). Histologic determination of ontogenetic patterns and processes in hadrosaurian ossified tendons. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 25 (3): 614-622.