Biological Sciences, Lehigh University Lehigh University home page Department of Biological Sciences home page
Faculty, Biological Sciences, Lehigh University

David Cundall, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus

Research Interest:
Functional Morphology

Office and Lab:
219 Warren Square

Mailing address:
1 W. Packer Avenue
Bethlehem, PA 18015


email Dr. Cundall

Curriculum Vitae

I formally retired at the end of August, 2020.  I continue to work on unfinished projects.


My lab focuses on the functional, morphological, ecological and evolutionary foundations of some behaviors of ectothermic tetrapods, particularly legless ones, like snakes. The behavior I have looked at most intensely is feeding behavior, but other maintenance behaviors, like drinking and locomotion, have also been examined. My primary interests lie in applying anatomical data to natural history and evolutionary problems.  I am particularly interested in finding out how the highly specialized feeding apparatus of snakes has evolved. My research applies behavioral data to anatomy, basically using behavior to guide anatomical analysis. I do what I do because I like to watch living animals—both in the lab and in the field—and I have always been fascinated by animal structure and how it defines behavior. Most of the anatomical analysis is done at gross and microdissectional levels but histological data are also collected to answer specific questions when tissue organization becomes relevant.

Movement of my office and lab to smaller quarters in 2013 terminated my role as a graduate advisor. However, I still advise undergraduate research students. They explore a variety of functional and morphological projects, broadening my perspectives (and, hopefully, theirs as well), and periodically producing enough data for publication

Recent Publicataions

Cundall, D., A. Deufel, and F. Irish. 2007. Feeding in boas and pythons: motor recruitment patterns during striking, pp 169-197. In: Biology of the  Boas and Pythons, R. W. Henderson and R. Powell (eds.), Eagle Mountain Publishing.

Adobe Acrobat Reader requiredBuckley, C. A., J. E. Schneider, and D. Cundall. 2007. Kinematic analysis of an appetitive food-handling behavior: the functional morphology of Syrian hamster cheek pouches. J. Exp. Biol. 210:3096-3106.

Pattishall, A. and D. Cundall. 2008. Dynamic changes in body form during swimming in water snakes, Nerodia sipedon. Zoology 111:48-61.

Cundall, D. and F. Irish. 2008. The snake skull, pp. 349-692. In: Biology of the Reptilia, Vol. 20, Morphology H, C. Gans, A. S. Gaunt, and K. Adler (eds.). Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Ithaca, NY.

Pattishall, A. and D. Cundall. 2008. Spatial biology of northern watersnakes (Nerodia sipedon) living along an urban stream. Copeia 2008:752-762.

Cundall, D. 2009. Viper fangs: Functional limitations of extreme teeth. Physiol. Biochem. Zool. 82:63-79

Adobe Acrobat Reader requiredPattishall, A. and D. Cundall. 2009. Habitat use by synurbic watersnakes (Nerodia sipedon). Herpetologica 65, 183-198.

Adobe Acrobat Reader requiredDeufel, A. and D. Cundall. 2010. Functional morphology of the palato-maxillary apparatus in "palatine-dragging" snakes (Serpentes: Elapidae: Acanthophis, Oxyuranus). J. Morphol. 271:73-85.

Adobe Acrobat Reader requiredCundall, D. and A. Pattishall. 2011. Foraging time investment in an urban population of watersnakes (Nerodia sipedon). J. Herpetol. 45:174-177.

Adobe Acrobat Reader requiredCundall, D., B. Brainerd, J. Constantino, A. Deufel, D. Grapski, and N. Kley. 2012. Drinking in snakes: resolving a biomechanical puzzle. J. Exp. Zool. 317:152-172.

Cover Article for the journal, and reviewed in the New Scientist, on the Discovery Channel Canada, and on CBC's nightly current events radio show "As It Happens", which is carried by some NPR stations.

Adobe Acrobat Reader requiredClose, M.T. and D. Cundall. 2012 Mammals as prey: estimating ingestible size. J. Morphol. 273:1042-1049.

Adobe Acrobat Reader requiredClose M. and D. Cundall. 2014. Snake lower jaw skin: Extension and recovery of a hyperextensible keratinized integument. J. Exp. Zool. 321A:78-97.

Adobe Acrobat Reader requiredCundall, D., C. Tuttman and M. Close. 2014. A model of the anterior esophagus in snakes, with functional and developmental implications. Anat. Rec. 297:586-598.

Close, M., S. Perni, C. Franzini-Armstrong, D. Cundall. 2014. Highly extensible skeletal muscle in snakes. J. Exp. Biol. 217, 2445-2448.

Cundall, D. 2014. Review of “How Snakes Work: Structure, Function, and Behavior of the World’s Snakes” by Harvey B. Lillywhite. Herp. Rev. 45:363-366.

Cundall, D., A. Deufel, G. MacGregor, A. Pattishall, and M. Richter. 2016. Effects of size, condition, measurer and time on measurements of snakes. Herpetologica 72, 227-234.

Fernandez, E., F. Irish, D. Cundall. 2017. How a frog, Pipa pipa, succeeds or fails in catching fish. Copeia 105, 108-119. 
- Awarded best paper in herpetology in Copeia for 2017

Cundall, D., E. Fernandez, F. Irish. 2017. The suction mechanism of the pipid frog, Pipa pipa (Linnaeus, 1758).  J. Morphol. 278, 1229-1240. (DOI: 10.1002.jmor.20707)

Cundall, D. 2019. A few puzzles in the evolution of feeding mechanisms in snakes. Herpetologica 75, 99-107.

Burbrink, F. T., Grazziotin, F. G., Pyron, R. A., Cundall, D., Donnellan, S., Irish, F., Keogh, J. S., Kraus, F., Murphy, R. W., Noonan, B., Raxworthy, C. J., Ruane, S., Lemmon, A. R., Lemmon, E. M., & Zaher, H. (2020). Interrogating genomic-scale data for Squamata (lizards, snakes, and amphisbaenians) shows no support for key traditional morphological relationships. Systematic Biology 69:502-520. 

Cundall, D. and A. Deufel. 2022. Dorsal root ganglia, neural creest migration, and spinal cord form in snakes. J. Morphol. 283, 867-874.

Cundall, D. and F. Irish. 2022. Macrostomy, macrophagy, and snake phylogeny, pp. 437-454. In: D.J. Gower and H. Zaher (eds.). The Origin and Early Evolution of Snakes, Systematics Soc. Spec. Vol. 90. Cambridge University Press, London.

Lab Personnel

David Cundall, Ph.D.

The Cundall Lab, 2019

from left: Celina Berrios, Alex Megerle, Ashley Paquin



Courses taught by Professor Cundall

BioS 121 - Core III: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Co-taught with Professor Itzkowitz

BioS 234 - Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy
A dissection lab is part of the course and counts for two credits of advanced lab.

BioS 313 - Vertebrate Histology
A microscope-based lab is built into the course and counts for two credits of advanced lab. The course covers cell and tissue organization of all vertebrate (including human) organ systems.

BioS 314 - Vertebrate Development
A microscope-based lab is built into the course and counts for two credits of advanced lab.

BioS 329/429 - Herpetology
The course involves one-day weekend field trips for the first six weeks and varied lab experiences. Counts for one credit of advanced lab.

I also participate in the following:

BioS 161
BioS 261
BioS 262
BioS 300
BioS 389
BioS 391
BioS 393

When asked, I have taught the following:

BioS 409
BioS 410
BioS 445
BioS 490
BioS 499


Biological Sciences
111 Research Drive
Bethlehem, PA 18015
Phone: 610-758-3680
Fax: 610-758-4004