I am interested in understanding the nature of early animal evolution: its tempo and mode. My research investigates fossils from a pivotal period in Earth History over half a billion years ago, during which time the major animal groups are thought to have diversified and their bodyplans became fixed. I am particularly interested in a group of strange fossil organisms colloquially termed the 'Ediacaran Macrobiota' which record anatomies with no modern analogue, but increasing evidence is suggesting they may (at least in part) represent the remains of such ancient animals. The student would work in a group researching the Ediacaran macrobiota and early animal evolution more generally, addressing functional, phylogenetic and macro-evolutionary questions. Any DPhil project would be defined in discussion with the student but would likely involve the study of fossil material in museums, palaeontological fieldwork (if appropriate) and techniques in, for example, phylogenetics, X-ray tomography and comparative anatomy.