Kurtén Club 3.5.

Dear all,

next Tuesday, Andrew Smith will give a talk about

A Taxonomic Revision: Mesozoic Mammals from Welsh Fissure Fills.

Time & Loc.:
16.00, 3.5.2011, C108 Physicum

Title: A Taxonomic Revision: Mesozoic Mammals from Welsh Fissure Fills.


The Mesozoic represents approximately two thirds of mammalian evolution, and is traditionally equated with low taxonomic, morphological and ecological diversity, where mammals lived “In the shadow of the dinosaurs.” However, increasing evidence opposes this view with Mesozoic mammals occupying a variety of different niches and achieving a near global distribution.

My research interests lie in mammalian morphology and diversity, primarily using dental material to investigate early mammalian disparity. Current work focuses on exploring the taxonomic diversity of the basal mammal Morganucodon watsoni. This early insectivorous mammal is known from an abundant collection of disarticulated material found in the Triassic-Jurassic fissure fills of South Wales. By possessing certain features seen in both reptiles and mammals, it is important in tracing major evolutionary developments of the ear, lower jaw, and dentition.

This research has utilized a mixture of traditional morphometric methods, coupled with a novel use of disparity analysis, to search for differences in Morganucodon dental material. This study serves to increase our knowledge about the palaeoecology of the area and the extent of mammalian diversity in the Welsh fissures.


Andrew Smith recently gained his MSc in Palaeobiology from the University of Bristol, and has been accepted on the graduate program at UMASS, Amherst, USA, to research mammalian feeding mechanics with Betsy Dumont.