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Research

Research throughout my PhD revolved around two main themes.

The first is investigating the interplay of geology, palaeontology, and the environment, in order to gain a better understanding of the patterns of biodiversity and extinction we see through time. This involves compensating for our uneven sampling of the fossil record through geological and human-oriented factors, and using this to gain a better understanding of the biodiversity of different animal groups through time. Through this, we can gain a deeper understanding of the environmental and biological or ecological factors that have shaped major patterns in biotic evolution.

Marine tetrapod diversity and its relationship to sea level
Marine tetrapod diversity and its relationship to sea level

In particular, my research focuses on dynamics across the Jurassic/Cretaceous boundary, around 145 million years ago. Initially regarded as a major extinction, more recent evidence suggests that the story is actually much more complicated (shocker). Around this time, we see the origin of numerous modern animal groups, which suggests that major events were occurring around this time that were important for our understanding of modern animal groups. For background reading, see this review paper, and our latest publication on how sea level affected diversity through the Jurassic/Cretaceous interval.

In addition to this, I study the taxonomy and phylogenetic relationships of the ancestors of crocodiles, a group called crocodyliforms. In particular, my work has focused in the evolutionary relationships of a cool but poorly understood group of extinct crocodyliforms known as atoposaurids. These little cuties seemed to be fairly abundant throughout the Jurassic and Cretaceous, and might have played an important role in the ascent of modern crocodiles.

Phylogeny of Atoposauridae (red star) and related species
Phylogeny of Atoposauridae (red star) and related species

Alongside this, I’ve also co-written a review paper on Open Access and am in the process of leading another project on the future of peer review.