About this collection

Evolution is the sine qua non of biology. We provide a bench-mark in arguably the greatest transition in the history of life, the Cambrian "explosion". We achieve this both via provocative analyses of the origin of phyla, and also the wider context of earth history from one billion years ago onwards. We are a major focus for the topical area of vertebrate palaeontology, again integrating biology (e.g. functional biology) and geology (e.g. plate tectonics and palaeobiogeography). Embedded in an Earth Sciences Department we straddle earth sciences and biology. In particular, we aim to investigate whether, evolution is open-ended and indeterminate, or as we argue highly constrained by physico-chemical factors.

Community structure, evolution and organismal interaction

  • The early evolution of sex, multicellularity and heterotrophy, particularly as they relate to ecological expansion through the Proterozoic and early Cambrian
  • Ediacaran faunas
  • Predator: prey interactions in marine communities and the evolution of graptolites
  • The evolution and palaeobiology of archosaurian reptiles
  • Morphometric analysis of evolution and development in mammals

Taxon-based investigation - Hetrochrony and its evolutionary implications

  • Proterozoic & Cambrian (Burgess Shale-like) organisms
  • Evolution of graptolites and other hemichordates
  • Recent and fossil bivalves in an attempt to unravel evolutionary history of the group in particular to understand their adaptive radiations
  • Dinosaur anatomy, evolution and functional morphology
  • Trilobite evolution and mass extinctions
  • Sequence heterochrony and the marsupial-placental dichotomy

Systematics and evolution

  • Anatomical novelty in the Neoproterozoic and early Cambrian and their connections to molecular biology
  • Marine mass-extinctions (especially Devonian)
  • Systematics and phylogeny of trilobites
  • Systematics and phylogeny of dinosaurs
  • The use of evolutionary trees to detect macroevolutionary patterns
  • The development of combined phylogenetic and palaeobiogeographic techniques
  • Mesozoic vertebrate palaeontology of India

Engineering design in fossil form

  • Hydrodynamics and fluid flow over the graptolite colony
  • Computer-driven engineering design (Finite Elements) is being used to model and investigate form-function relationships in carnivorous synapsids and dinosaurs