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Palaeobiology and Palaeoecology

Deinonychus
Deinonychus

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.
  • Studying the evolutionary origins of key avian features such as feathers, flight, and endothermy
  • Establishing accurate evolutionary timescales across the vertebrate tree of life
  • Inferring phylogenetic interrelationships using novel molecular, morphological, and fossil data
  • Improving biogeographic inferences using fossils, and studying the link between climate change and biogeographic range
  • Investigating macroevolutionary patterns across mass extinction events
  • Developing hard and soft tissue anatomical atlases for key vertebrate taxa using new visualization techniques
  • THe evolution and palaeobiology of archosaurian reptiles
  • The early evoulution and diversification of birds

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

Recent publications in this area.

People specializing in this area

Academic Staff
Name Phone Email Research Topic
Butterfield, Nicholas +44 (0) 1223 333379 njb1005@cam.ac.uk
Field, Daniel +44 (0) 1223 768329 djf70@cam.ac.uk
Harper, Elizabeth +44 (0) 1223 333428 emh21@cam.ac.uk
Liu, Alex +44 (0) 1223 768326 agscl2@cam.ac.uk
Research Staff
Name Phone Email Research Topic
Kenchington, Charlotte +44 (0)1223 333416 cgk27@cam.ac.uk
Mitchell, Emily +44 (0) 1223 333 416 ek338@cam.ac.uk
Watanabe, Junya +44 (0)1223 333493 jw2098@cam.ac.uk
Research Students
Name Phone Email Research Topic
Grinham, Luke +44 (0) 1223 333438 lg515@cam.ac.uk
Mayk, Dennis dm807@cam.ac.uk
Telesca, Luca +44 (0) 1223 334062 lt401@cam.ac.uk
Tindal, Ben +44 (0)1223 333417 bt364@cam.ac.uk
Emeritus and College Teaching Staff
Name Phone Email Research Topic
Conway Morris, Simon +44 (0) 1223 333414 sc113@esc.cam.ac.uk
Norman, David +44 (0) 1223 333426 dn102@cam.ac.uk
All members of the Department
Name Phone Email Research Topic
Butterfield, Nicholas +44 (0) 1223 333379 njb1005@cam.ac.uk
Conway Morris, Simon +44 (0) 1223 333414 sc113@esc.cam.ac.uk
Field, Daniel +44 (0) 1223 768329 djf70@cam.ac.uk
Grinham, Luke +44 (0) 1223 333438 lg515@cam.ac.uk
Kenchington, Charlotte +44 (0)1223 333416 cgk27@cam.ac.uk
Mayk, Dennis dm807@cam.ac.uk
Norman, David +44 (0) 1223 333426 dn102@cam.ac.uk
Telesca, Luca +44 (0) 1223 334062 lt401@cam.ac.uk
Tindal, Ben +44 (0)1223 333417 bt364@cam.ac.uk
Watanabe, Junya +44 (0)1223 333493 jw2098@cam.ac.uk