Organisational unit: Research Grouping
The Palaeobiology Research Group uses the fossil record to study the history of life and how ancient organisms lived.
A key focus is on the tree of life, establishing its shape and calibration against geological time scales. We also work on mass extinctions, diversifications, and the links between taxic, morphological, and functional evolution in a range of organisms, from foraminifera to fishes, pteridosperms to pterosaurs.
Establishing links between the shape of the history of life and climatic and environmental change is another key field.
The group has pioneered many research and educational initiatives. The Bristol Dinosaur Project focuses research on the Late Triassic prosauropod dinosaur Thecodontosaurus, the oldest plant-eating dinosaur.
The work is yielding new information on the early evolution of dinosaurs, and it is the subject of a major open-access educational initiative.
A further key focus is on the origin of major animal groups in the Precambrian and Cambrian - to determine the interaction of palaeontological with molecular and developmental data.
Several students and staff work on trace fossils, ancient tracks and burrows, as evidence of ancient behaviour.
Others work on the history of biodiversity, the tree of life, mass extinctions, and the relationship between evolution and animal development.