Summary: The study of early forms of life through fossil remains.

Top Publications

  1. Koumandou V, Wickstead B, Ginger M, van der Giezen M, Dacks J, Field M. Molecular paleontology and complexity in the last eukaryotic common ancestor. Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. 2013;48:373-96 pubmed publisher
    ..This is essentially allowing a molecular paleontology. What has emerged from these studies is spectacular cellular complexity prior to expansion of the eukaryotic ..
  2. França M, Ferigolo J, Langer M. Associated skeletons of a new middle Triassic "Rauisuchia" from Brazil. Naturwissenschaften. 2011;98:389-95 pubmed publisher
    ..Indeed, the studied assemblage may represent the earliest evidence of gregariousness among archosaurs, adding to our knowledge on the origin of a behavior pattern typical of extant taxa. ..
  3. Benito Calvo A, de la Torre I. Analysis of orientation patterns in Olduvai Bed I assemblages using GIS techniques: implications for site formation processes. J Hum Evol. 2011;61:50-60 pubmed publisher
  4. Lloyd G. A refined modelling approach to assess the influence of sampling on palaeobiodiversity curves: new support for declining Cretaceous dinosaur richness. Biol Lett. 2012;8:123-6 pubmed publisher
    ..At present, use of this method with data that includes either Lagerstätten or 'Pull of the Recent' biases is inappropriate, although partial solutions are offered. ..
  5. Thorne P, Ruta M, Benton M. Resetting the evolution of marine reptiles at the Triassic-Jurassic boundary. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011;108:8339-44 pubmed publisher
    ..The group remained at low diversity and disparity for its final 100 Myr. The end-Triassic mass extinction had a previously unsuspected profound effect in resetting the evolution of apex marine predators of the Mesozoic. ..
  6. Ferring R, Oms O, Agusti J, Berna F, Nioradze M, Shelia T, et al. Earliest human occupations at Dmanisi (Georgian Caucasus) dated to 1.85-1.78 Ma. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011;108:10432-6 pubmed publisher
    ..The secure age for Dmanisi's first occupations reveals that Eurasia was probably occupied before Homo erectus appears in the East African fossil record...
  7. Lloyd G, Young J, Smith A. Taxonomic structure of the fossil record is shaped by sampling bias. Syst Biol. 2012;61:80-9 pubmed publisher
    ..Such a strong correlation argues against using raw species-to-genus ratios to infer biological processes without taking sampling into account and suggests that higher taxa cannot be taken as unbiased proxies for species diversity. ..
  8. Naish D, Dyke G, Cau A, Escuillié F, Godefroit P. A gigantic bird from the Upper Cretaceous of Central Asia. Biol Lett. 2012;8:97-100 pubmed publisher
    ..This Kazakh fossil demonstrates that large body size evolved at least once outside modern birds (Neornithes) and reveals hitherto unexpected trophic diversity within Cretaceous Aves. ..
  9. Fitzgerald E. Archaeocete-like jaws in a baleen whale. Biol Lett. 2012;8:94-6 pubmed publisher
    ..Thus, the initial evolution of the mysticetes' unique cranial form and huge mouths was perhaps not linked to filtering plankton, but to enhancing suction feeding on individual prey. ..

More Information


  1. Fraser D, Theodor J. Comparing ungulate dietary proxies using discriminant function analysis. J Morphol. 2011;272:1513-26 pubmed publisher
    ..These results are important for future paleoecological studies and should be used as a guide for determining which dietary proxies are appropriate to the research question...
  2. Zanno L, Varricchio D, O Connor P, Titus A, Knell M. A new troodontid theropod, Talos sampsoni gen. et sp. nov., from the Upper Cretaceous Western Interior Basin of North America. PLoS ONE. 2011;6:e24487 pubmed publisher
  3. Campione N, Evans D. Cranial growth and variation in edmontosaurs (Dinosauria: Hadrosauridae): implications for latest Cretaceous megaherbivore diversity in North America. PLoS ONE. 2011;6:e25186 pubmed publisher
    ..A decline in the disparity of dominant megaherbivores in the latest Maastrichtian interval supports the hypothesis that dinosaur diversity decreased immediately preceding the end Cretaceous extinction event. ..
  4. Lee M, Worthy T. Likelihood reinstates Archaeopteryx as a primitive bird. Biol Lett. 2012;8:299-303 pubmed publisher
    ..These results also suggest that likelihood-based methods (in addition to parsimony) can be useful in morphological phylogenetics. ..
  5. Donges J, Donner R, Trauth M, Marwan N, Schellnhuber H, Kurths J. Nonlinear detection of paleoclimate-variability transitions possibly related to human evolution. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011;108:20422-7 pubmed publisher
    ..This result suggests that the observed shifts between more regular and more erratic environmental variability may have acted as a trigger for rapid change in the development of humankind in Africa...
  6. Keller A, Graefen A, Ball M, Matzas M, Boisguerin V, Maixner F, et al. New insights into the Tyrolean Iceman's origin and phenotype as inferred by whole-genome sequencing. Nat Commun. 2012;3:698 pubmed publisher
    ..Sequences corresponding to ~60% of the genome of Borrelia burgdorferi are indicative of the earliest human case of infection with the pathogen for Lyme borreliosis. ..
  7. Benson R, Evans M, Druckenmiller P. High diversity, low disparity and small body size in plesiosaurs (Reptilia, Sauropterygia) from the Triassic-Jurassic boundary. PLoS ONE. 2012;7:e31838 pubmed publisher
    ..Increase in both maximum and minimum body length early in plesiosaurian history suggests a driven evolutionary trend. However, Maximum-likelihood models suggest only passive expansion into higher body size categories. ..
  8. El Baidouri M, Panaud O. Comparative genomic paleontology across plant kingdom reveals the dynamics of TE-driven genome evolution. Genome Biol Evol. 2013;5:954-65 pubmed publisher
    ..These new findings lead us to propose a new model of TE-driven genome evolution in plants. ..
  9. Lepre C, Quinn R, Joordens J, Swisher C, Feibel C. Plio-Pleistocene facies environments from the KBS Member, Koobi Fora Formation: implications for climate controls on the development of lake-margin hominin habitats in the northeast Turkana Basin (northwest Kenya). J Hum Evol. 2007;53:504-14 pubmed
    ..Environmental changes in these habitats may be a result of monsoonal rainfall variations that derive from orbital insolation and/or glacial forcing. ..
  10. Allwood A, Grotzinger J, Knoll A, Burch I, Anderson M, Coleman M, et al. Controls on development and diversity of Early Archean stromatolites. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009;106:9548-55 pubmed publisher
    ..The persistence of an inferred biological signal through changing environmental circumstances and stromatolite types indicates that benthic microbial populations adapted to shifting environmental conditions in early oceans. ..
  11. Pickering R, Kramers J. Re-appraisal of the stratigraphy and determination of new U-Pb dates for the Sterkfontein hominin site, South Africa. J Hum Evol. 2010;59:70-86 pubmed publisher
    ..The U-Th ages show that there are substantial deposits younger than 400 ka in the underground cave, underlying the older deposits, highlighting again that these cave fills are not simple layer-cakes. ..
  12. Kingston J, Deino A, Edgar R, Hill A. Astronomically forced climate change in the Kenyan Rift Valley 2.7-2.55 Ma: implications for the evolution of early hominin ecosystems. J Hum Evol. 2007;53:487-503 pubmed
  13. Zohar I, Biton R. Land, lake, and fish: Investigation of fish remains from Gesher Benot Ya'aqov (paleo-Lake Hula). J Hum Evol. 2011;60:343-56 pubmed publisher
    ..All of these identified species may have contributed significantly to the diet of GBY hominins. ..
  14. Longrich N, Currie P. A microraptorine (Dinosauria-Dromaeosauridae) from the Late Cretaceous of North America. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009;106:5002-7 pubmed publisher
    ..These fossils suggest that small dromaeosaurids were a significant component of the carnivore community in this Late Cretaceous biota. ..
  15. Braun D, Harris J, Levin N, McCoy J, Herries A, Bamford M, et al. Early hominin diet included diverse terrestrial and aquatic animals 1.95 Ma in East Turkana, Kenya. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010;107:10002-7 pubmed publisher
  16. Nesbitt S, Turner A, Spaulding M, Conrad J, Norell M. The theropod furcula. J Morphol. 2009;270:856-79 pubmed publisher
    ..Informative phylogenetic characters pertaining to the furcula occur throughout Theropoda, though care should betake to consider taphonomic effects when describing furcular morphology. ..
  17. Gibbon R, Granger D, Kuman K, Partridge T. Early Acheulean technology in the Rietputs Formation, South Africa, dated with cosmogenic nuclides. J Hum Evol. 2009;56:152-60 pubmed publisher
    ..The simultaneous appearance of the Acheulean in different parts of the continent implies relatively rapid technology development and the widespread use of large cutting tools in the African continent by ca 1.6Ma. ..
  18. Lycett S. Are Victoria West cores "proto-Levallois"? A phylogenetic assessment. J Hum Evol. 2009;56:175-91 pubmed publisher
    ..It is further argued that even in cases where different technologies are found to share phylogenetically homologous features, use of the term "proto" is questionable on theoretical grounds. ..
  19. Brown J, Payne R, Mindell D. Nuclear DNA does not reconcile 'rocks' and 'clocks' in Neoaves: a comment on Ericson et al. Biol Lett. 2007;3:257-9; discussion 260-1 pubmed
  20. Rohland N, Hofreiter M. Comparison and optimization of ancient DNA extraction. Biotechniques. 2007;42:343-52 pubmed
    ..Finally, we observed a marked difference in the performance between different types of DNA polymerases, as measured by amplification success. ..
  21. Bouakaze C, Keyser C, Amory S, Crubezy E, Ludes B. First successful assay of Y-SNP typing by SNaPshot minisequencing on ancient DNA. Int J Legal Med. 2007;121:493-9 pubmed
    ..To our knowledge, this study reports the first successful investigation of Y-SNPs on aDNA samples. The potential use of Y-SNPs in both evolutionary and forensic fields is also discussed. ..
  22. Payne J, Finnegan S. The effect of geographic range on extinction risk during background and mass extinction. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007;104:10506-11 pubmed
    ..Although factors other than geographic range have certainly affected extinction risk during many intervals, geographic range is likely the most consistently significant predictor of extinction risk in the marine fossil record. ..
  23. Briggs A, Stenzel U, Johnson P, Green R, Kelso J, Prüfer K, et al. Patterns of damage in genomic DNA sequences from a Neandertal. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007;104:14616-21 pubmed
    ..The results suggest that reliable genome sequences can be obtained from Pleistocene organisms. ..
  24. Quinn R, Lepre C, Wright J, Feibel C. Paleogeographic variations of pedogenic carbonate delta13C values from Koobi Fora, Kenya: implications for floral compositions of Plio-Pleistocene hominin environments. J Hum Evol. 2007;53:560-73 pubmed
  25. Mayle F, Power M. Impact of a drier Early-Mid-Holocene climate upon Amazonian forests. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2008;363:1829-38 pubmed publisher
    ..Only in ecotonal areas is there evidence of biome replacement in the Holocene. From this palaeoecological perspective, we argue against the Amazon forest 'dieback' scenario simulated for the future. ..
  26. Mackelprang R, Rubin E. Paleontology. New tricks with old bones. Science. 2008;321:211-2 pubmed publisher
  27. Kaye T, Gaugler G, Sawlowicz Z. Dinosaurian soft tissues interpreted as bacterial biofilms. PLoS ONE. 2008;3:e2808 pubmed publisher
    ..Blood cell size iron-oxygen spheres found in the vessels were identified as an oxidized form of formerly pyritic framboids. Our observations appeal to a more conservative explanation for the structures found preserved in fossil bone. ..
  28. Schopf J, Tewari V, Kudryavtsev A. Discovery of a new chert-permineralized microbiota in the Proterozoic Buxa Formation of the Ranjit window, Sikkim, northeast India, and its astrobiological implications. Astrobiology. 2008;8:735-46 pubmed publisher
    ..This study, the first report of Proterozoic microfossils in units of the Ranjit tectonic window, demonstrates that firm evidence of early life can be adduced from even a minuscule amount of fossil-bearing ancient rock. ..
  29. Brusatte S, Benton M, Ruta M, Lloyd G. Superiority, competition, and opportunism in the evolutionary radiation of dinosaurs. Science. 2008;321:1485-8 pubmed publisher
    ..The results strongly suggest that historical contingency, rather than prolonged competition or general "superiority," was the primary factor in the rise of dinosaurs. ..
  30. Wroe S, Lowry M, Anton M. How to build a mammalian super-predator. Zoology (Jena). 2008;111:196-203 pubmed publisher
  31. Pereira V. Automated paleontology of repetitive DNA with REANNOTATE. BMC Genomics. 2008;9:614 pubmed publisher
    ..REANNOTATE is ready to process existing annotation for automated evolutionary analysis of all types of complex repeats in any genome. The tool is freely available under the GPL at ..
  32. Bar Yosef Mayer D, Vandermeersch B, Bar Yosef O. Shells and ochre in Middle Paleolithic Qafzeh Cave, Israel: indications for modern behavior. J Hum Evol. 2009;56:307-14 pubmed publisher
    ..The shells were collected and brought from the Mediterranean Sea shore some 35km away, and are complete Glycymeris bivalves, naturally perforated. Several valves bear traces of having been strung, and a few had ochre stains on them. ..
  33. Ségalen L, Lee Thorp J, Cerling T. Timing of C4 grass expansion across sub-Saharan Africa. J Hum Evol. 2007;53:549-59 pubmed
    ..This may suggest a protracted process of hominin adaptation to these emerging, more open landscapes. ..
  34. Maslin M, Christensen B. Tectonics, orbital forcing, global climate change, and human evolution in Africa: introduction to the African paleoclimate special volume. J Hum Evol. 2007;53:443-64 pubmed
    ..In particular, hominin species seem to differentially originate and go extinct during periods of extreme climate variability. Results presented in this volume may represent the basis of a new theory of early human evolution in Africa. ..
  35. Remes K, Ortega F, Fierro I, Joger U, Kosma R, Ferrer J, et al. A new basal sauropod dinosaur from the middle Jurassic of Niger and the early evolution of sauropoda. PLoS ONE. 2009;4:e6924 pubmed publisher
    ..Jurassic climatic zones and phytogeography possibly controlled early sauropod diversification. ..
  36. Evans S, Jones M, Krause D. A giant frog with South American affinities from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008;105:2951-6 pubmed publisher
    ..It also suggests that the initial radiation of hyloid anurans began earlier than proposed by some recent estimates. ..
  37. Grine F, Judex S, Daegling D, Ozcivici E, Ungar P, Teaford M, et al. Craniofacial biomechanics and functional and dietary inferences in hominin paleontology. J Hum Evol. 2010;58:293-308 pubmed publisher
  38. Asher R, Geisler J, SAnchez Villagra M. Morphology, paleontology, and placental mammal phylogeny. Syst Biol. 2008;57:311-7 pubmed publisher
  39. Fortea J, de la Rasilla M, Garcia Tabernero A, Gigli E, Rosas A, Lalueza Fox C. Excavation protocol of bone remains for Neandertal DNA analysis in El Sidrón Cave (Asturias, Spain). J Hum Evol. 2008;55:353-7 pubmed publisher
  40. Witton M, Naish D. A reappraisal of azhdarchid pterosaur functional morphology and paleoecology. PLoS ONE. 2008;3:e2271 pubmed publisher
    ..Proficient terrestrial abilities and a relatively inflexible neck are in agreement with this interpretation. ..
  41. Alroy J, Aberhan M, Bottjer D, Foote M, Fürsich F, Harries P, et al. Phanerozoic trends in the global diversity of marine invertebrates. Science. 2008;321:97-100 pubmed publisher
    ..The ratio of global to local richness has changed little, and a latitudinal diversity gradient was present in the early Paleozoic. ..
  42. Drake N, Blench R, Armitage S, Bristow C, White K. Ancient watercourses and biogeography of the Sahara explain the peopling of the desert. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011;108:458-62 pubmed publisher
  43. Sampson S, Loewen M, Farke A, Roberts E, Forster C, Smith J, et al. New horned dinosaurs from Utah provide evidence for intracontinental dinosaur endemism. PLoS ONE. 2010;5:e12292 pubmed publisher
    ..Yet this hypothesis has been challenged on multiple fronts and has remained poorly tested...
  44. Alroy J. The shifting balance of diversity among major marine animal groups. Science. 2010;329:1191-4 pubmed publisher
    ..The current global crisis may therefore permanently alter the biosphere's taxonomic composition by changing the rules of evolution...
  45. Caramelli D, Milani L, Vai S, Modi A, Pecchioli E, Girardi M, et al. A 28,000 years old Cro-Magnon mtDNA sequence differs from all potentially contaminating modern sequences. PLoS ONE. 2008;3:e2700 pubmed publisher
    ..Because all potential sources of modern DNA contamination are known, the Paglicci 23 sample will offer a unique opportunity to get insight for the first time into the nuclear genes of early modern Europeans. ..
  46. Frumkin A, Bar Yosef O, Schwarcz H. Possible paleohydrologic and paleoclimatic effects on hominin migration and occupation of the Levantine Middle Paleolithic. J Hum Evol. 2011;60:437-51 pubmed publisher
    ..We suggest that this migration, as well as the later Neanderthal expansion from Southeast Europe or the Anatolian plateau into the Levant during early MIS 4, could be facilitated by the observed major climatic variations. ..
  47. Lü J, Unwin D, Xu L, Zhang X. A new azhdarchoid pterosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of China and its implications for pterosaur phylogeny and evolution. Naturwissenschaften. 2008;95:891-7 pubmed publisher
    ..These new data clarify recent confusion surrounding the systematics of these Lower Cretaceous taxa and provide new insights into the evolutionary history of pterosaurs. ..
  48. Horner J, Goodwin M. Extreme cranial ontogeny in the upper cretaceous dinosaur pachycephalosaurus. PLoS ONE. 2009;4:e7626 pubmed publisher
    ..Marginocephalians (pachycephalosaurids + ceratopsids) undergo comparable and extreme cranial morphological change during ontogeny...
  49. Sikes N, Ashley G. Stable isotopes of pedogenic carbonates as indicators of paleoecology in the Plio-Pleistocene (upper Bed I), western margin of the Olduvai Basin, Tanzania. J Hum Evol. 2007;53:574-94 pubmed
    ..The record also reflects the variation in climatic conditions (wet/dry) documented by other global climate proxies for this time...
  50. Chatterjee S, Templin R. Biplane wing planform and flight performance of the feathered dinosaur Microraptor gui. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007;104:1576-80 pubmed
    ..Like the Wright 1903 Flyer, Microraptor, a gliding relative of early birds, took to the air with two sets of wings. ..
  51. Faith J, Dominguez Rodrigo M, Gordon A. Long-distance carcass transport at Olduvai Gorge? A quantitative examination of Bed I skeletal element abundances. J Hum Evol. 2009;56:247-56 pubmed publisher
    ..The patterning at Bed I contrasts strongly with Middle Stone Age and Middle Paleolithic assemblages, which provide clear evidence for selective transport, suggesting higher transport costs and longer transport distances. ..
  52. Lindgren J, Uvdal P, Engdahl A, Lee A, Alwmark C, Bergquist K, et al. Microspectroscopic evidence of cretaceous bone proteins. PLoS ONE. 2011;6:e19445 pubmed publisher
    ..Thus, the preservation of primary soft tissues and biomolecules is not limited to large-sized bones buried in fluvial sandstone environments, but also occurs in relatively small-sized skeletal elements deposited in marine sediments. ..
  53. Wallace S, Hulbert R. A new machairodont from the Palmetto Fauna (early Pliocene) of Florida, with comments on the origin of the Smilodontini (Mammalia, Carnivora, Felidae). PLoS ONE. 2013;8:e56173 pubmed publisher
    ..The former is rarer, known only from the north-central and northwestern US, and presumably dispersed into the Old World. The latter is known from the eastern and southern US, and dispersed into South America...