Lecturer and Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology, Cambridge University

Dr. Head interests align along two axes, one primarily ecological and one primarily evolutionary developmental: 1) the evolution of modern vertebrate clades, focusing on the relationship between fauna and environment during the Paleogene and Neogene; and 2) the evolution of regulatory genetic networks and novel developmental mechanisms in the origins of vertebrate body forms as evidenced from anatomy. Although the questions he address and the methods he employ are not taxon-specific, his  focus is on reptiles because they are diverse, important components of modern ecosystems, possess a dense fossil record during the last 65 million years, and exhibit extraordinary plasticity in body form and ecophenotype, including axial elongation, limblessness, and the evolution of shells. His work integrates phenomic data, as quantified and qualified skeletal anatomy derived from field and museum studies, with molecular, environmental, and paleoclimate datasets. The newest component of his research is the integration of ecometric trait data from fossil vertebrates with modern records to help forecast biotic responses to anthropogenic climate change as a component of taxon-free conservation paleobiology.

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