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Palaeobiology and Palaeoecology

Academic Staff involved in this discipline:
Professor Nicholas Butterfield, Professor Simon Conway Morris, Dr Ken McNamara and Dr David Norman.

Research Staff involved in this discipline:
Dr Romain Guilbaud, Dr Liz Harper, Dr Jen F. Hoyal Cuthill, Dr Javier Ortega-Hernández, Dr Ben J. Slater and Dr Martin R. Smith.

Research Students involved in this discipline:
Mr Peter W. Adamson, Mr Matthew Baron, Miss Charlotte Kenchington, Luca Telesca, Mr Nickolas Wiggan and Miss Megan Williams and Mr Collin van Buren.

A focus of our research is the Cambrian "explosion," arguably the greatest transition in the history of life, a better appreciation of which will improve our understanding of the broader aspects of the evolutionary process. Our approach involves novel interrogation of the early fossil record combined with leading-edge phylogenetic and morphometric techniques, and recognition of the powerful interplay between biological and planetary evolution. We are also a major centre for vertebrate palaeontology, again integrating biology (e.g. functional biology) and geology (e.g. plate tectonics and palaeobiogeography).

Community Structure, Evolution and Organismal Interaction

  • The early evolution of eukaryotes, multicellularity and heterotrophy, particularly as they relate to ecological expansion through the Proterozoic and early Cambrian.
  • ‘Ecosystem engineering' feedback effects of biological evolution.
  • Ediacaran and Cambrian (especially Burgess Shale-type) faunas.
  • The evolution and palaeobiology of archosaurian reptiles.
  • Predator-prey interactions in marine communities.
  • Systematics and phylogeny of trilobites, early arthropods and ecdysozoans.
  • Recent and fossil bivalves with an eye to reconstructing their evolutionary history.
  • The mechanisms and palaeobiological implications of exceptional fossil preservation.
  • The development of combined phylogenetic and palaeobiogeographic techniques.
  • Convergence and contingency in biological evolution.

We welcome applications from students with backgrounds in geology, zoology, biology and, when appropriate, physics or biomathematics.

Recent publications in this area.


Page updated: 17 Feb 2016