News archive

19th December 2014. Many congratulations to PhD student David Button for winning the President's Prize at the 58th Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association in Leeds. The prize is awarded to the best talk by an early career researcher within a year of their PhD. David's talk was entitled "Craniodental biomechanical character evolution within the Sauropodomorpha, and the influence of dietary evolution on gigantism."

21st August 2014.
New paper out in Nature today - Gill et al - dietary specialization in early mammals. Using a combination of FEA and quantitative microwear we determined that the jaws of early mammaliaforms Morganucodon and Kuehneotherium functioned in different ways and that the animals had divergent dietary ecologies - Morgi perferring harder foodstuffs whilst Kuehni specialized on softer prey.

3rd December 2013 New (open access!) paper published in PNAS. Stephan Lautenschlager's PhD work on therizinosaur cranial function offers new insights into the mechanical behaviour and evolution of the theropod beaks.

1st October 2013
A very warm welcome to new PhD students Leanne Melbourne and Nicky Stone. Leanne is co-supervised by Daniela Schmidt (Bristol) and Juliet Brodie (NHM, London) and will study how ocean acidification influences the structure and ecology of UK coralline algae. Nicky will study the role of heterochrony in the evolution and function of palaeognathous birds.

7th Nov 2012 Many congratulations to Jen Bright who has been awarded the University of Bristol Science Faculty prize 2011-12 for her PhD thesis "Validation of finite element models and the implications for palaeontology". This means that not only was Jen's thesis considered the best from the Science Faculty for that year, it is amongst the six best PhD theses submitted across the whole university. Very many congratulations Jen!

1st Oct 2012 A warm welcome to Dr Laura Porro who joins the group as a Marie Curie Research Fellow. Laura is studying the evolution of feeding in early tetrapods and is working jointly with Professor Jenny Clack in Cambridge. Great to have you back in the UK Laura!

14th March 2012
New paper out in Proceedings B on function of conodont dental elements - sharpest dental structures ever. Abstract, Nature News article, UoBristol news feature.

7th March 2012 Finding the most efficient ways for teeth to slice food - our new paper in J. Royal Soc. Interface combines guillotine experiments and FEA (validated to 2 decimal places!) to find out. Abstract, Univ Bristol news article.

6th October 2011. Out today on early view in Journal of Anatomy, Cox, Fagan, Rayfield & Jeffery Finite element modelling of squirrel, guinea pig and rat skulls: using geometric morphometrics to assess sensitivity; results emerging from NERC Standard Grant on rodent skull biomechanics.

3rd October 2011.
A warm welcome to new PhD student David Button, studying craniofacial function and evolution of sauropodomorph dinosaurs. David is based in Bristol and jointly supervised by myself and Dr Paul Barrett, and funded by a NERC-CASE award.

16th August 2011.
Group review paper on Models in palaeontological functional analysis published online early view in Biology Letters.

26th July 2011. Many congratulations to Jen Bright on passing her PhD viva with only minor corrections. Jen has already published three papers on finite element validation from her thesis, with a fourth in review (Bright and Rayfield 2011a, 2011b; Bright and Gröning). Many thanks to Dani Schmidt and Michael Fagan (Hull) for acting as examiners. Jen will begin a 3-year BBSRC-funded postdoc here in Bristol in early September.

6th July 2011. Phil Anderson, myself and co-authors Matt Friedman and Martin Brazeau have a paper out on early view in Nature on the functional evolution of early jaws. See also our webpage

18th June 2011. First research group wedding! Many congratulations to Pam Gill and Colin Palmer who are getting married in Bristol today!

15th April 2011. See photos of PhD student Stephan Lautenschlager's recent trip to Prof. Larry Witmer's lab in Ohio at Larry's lab Facebook page here.

2nd March 2011
. Congratulations to PhD student Jen Bright on the publication of her first paper, out now in The Anatomical Record.

February 2011. I have very kindly been awarded the Lyell Fund from the Geological Society: "awarded to contributors to the Earth sciences on the basis of noteworthy published research, under the age of 40".

6th January 2011. NERC-funded project on validation of finite element models of ostrich jaws is out now in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of Anatomy.

24th November 2010. Congratulations to Colin Palmer on his publication on pterosaur wing aerodynamics, out today in Proceedings B., and receiving plenty of media coverage.

1st October 2010. Welcome to new PhD students joining the group, Andrew Cuff and Stephan Lautenschlanger. Both will be researching the evolution and biomechanics of theropod dinosaur skulls.