Research Associate in Palaeobiology

Bristol, United Kingdom
28 Jun 2018
End of advertisement period
29 Jul 2018
Contract Type
Full Time

The Bristol Paleobiology group in the School of Earth Sciences at Bristol is inviting applications for a Research Associate to work on the NERC funded grant Functional evolution of the early tetrapod skull. The aim of the project is to determine the functional consequences of changes to vertebrate skull morphology across the fish-tetrapod transition. The invasion of land by vertebrates was a key event in the history of life. The fossil record documents fish-like ancestors of tetrapods evolving limbs with digits, a weight-bearing backbone and ribs, and a consolidated skull,aying the foundations for a body plan that is shared among all living tetrapods, including humans. Recent research has shed light on locomotor evolution across the fish-tetrapod transition, but the evolution of skull function is still unclear. This project aims to decode the evolution of feeding behaviour across the fish-tetrapod transition. We will achieve this aim by capturing internal and external skull anatomy via computed tomography (CT) scanning of fossil taxa spanning the water-land transition and key extant relatives. These digital datasets will be used to reconstruct muscular anatomy, and predict mechanical performance, including muscle function, jaw mechanics and structural ability of the skull to resist various feeding loads.

The Research Associate will create 3D digital biomechanical models of early tetrapod skulls - and those of extant relatives - via segmentation of CT scan datasets, and creation and analysis of finite element and/or musculoskeletal models. The successful candidate will have opportunities to present the research at international conferences and mentor postgraduate researchers. This fixed-term position will ideally start in September 2018, and funding is available for 22 months.

You must have a PhD in geoscience, bioscience, (or related fields), extensive research experience in palaeobiology and/or organismal biology, experience working with CT datasets, comparative biomechanics and/or functional morphology, and good working knowledge of computational biomechanical analyses techniques.

For informal enquiries please contact Prof. Emily Rayfield (

Please note that interviews for this position will take place in August 2018.

The University is committed to creating and sustaining a fully inclusive culture. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds and communities.

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