Paul Smith

Research Interests

There is ongoing debate about the evolutionary origin of animal groups – the ‘Cambrian Explosion’ – particularly in terms of the timing of the event, its duration, and the causal mechanisms involved.  Research in the Museum of Natural History in Oxford is examining these problems from the perspective of a number of model groups, particularly arthropods and vertebrates, and also at the range (and interaction) of environmental triggers that might have played a role. The DPhil project will examine evolutionary relationships in primitive animal groups, particularly in the Cambrian and Ordovician, and/or at the range of sedimentary and environmental settings in which these faunas occur.  The project will embrace a range of techniques including the anatomical study of exceptionally preserved fossil material, sedimentology, geochemistry, fieldwork and the use of museum collections.

Qualifications & Experience

PhD in palaeontology, University of Nottingham

33 years (universities of Cambridge, Copenhagen, Birmingham & Oxford)


Personal Research Keywords

palaeobiology, sedimentology, Cambrian, Ordovician/ Earth Surface Processes; Climates of the Past