Understanding arthropod origins in light of fossilization filters: phylogeny and decay
Project available for individuals with self arranged funding.
Principal Supervisor: Robert Sansom
Can the fossil record be reliably used to reconstruct the relationships of extinct organisms? How is our understanding of evolutionary processes changed when we take fossilization filters and biases into affect? This project aims to address these questions by focusing on the problematic origins of a complex clade –the arthropods. A combination of phylogenetic simulations, modelling and laboratory experiments investigating anatomical decomposition will be undertaken to address this problem. The data generated from theoretical and empirical studies will serve as a powerful and unique tool with which to re-visit the palaeontological data and the evolutionary inferences drawn from them. The PhD would suit biologists or geologists with an interest in evolution and palaeobiology and will provide high quality training in a variety of analytical techniques: phylogenetics, comparative anatomy, experimental decay and dissection, taxonomy, and palaeontological data analysis.
Budd, G. E., and Telford, M. J. 2009. The origin and evolution of arthropods. Nature, 457:812-817.
Sansom, R. S., Gabbott, S. E., and Purnell, M. A. 2010. Non-random decay of chordate characters causes bias in fossil interpretation. Nature, 463:797-800.
Sansom, R. S., Gabbott, S. E., and Purnell, M. A. 2011. Decay of vertebrate characters in hagfish and lamprey (Cyclostomata) and the implications for the vertebrate fossil record. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 278:1150-1157.
Wiens, J. J. 2006. Missing data and the design of phylogenetic analyses. Journal of Biomedical Informatics, 39:34-42.
This project has a Band 2 fee.
Details of different fee bands are available for UK/EU or International applicants.