My work focuses on understanding the origins of the diverse body plans of animals through study of the early fossil record. Living animals today can be partitioned into about 30 body plans (the animal phyla) and with very few exceptions, all of these are present in the fossil record by just over half a billion years ago, during the Cambrian Period. Many of the organisms from this time have combinations of features not seen in extant groups and my work aims to put these weird ancient wonders on their branches of the animal tree of life to understand how, when and how quickly the rich diversity of animal form was established. Students working in my group would work on understanding fossil material through high resolution techniques, such as computed topography and electron microscopy, and inference of phylogenetic trees using molecular, morphological and fossil data.
Qualifications and Experience
PhD, MSc supervision, MEarthSci project supervision