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Department of Zoology


We are excited to welcome Dr Emily Mitchell to the Department.

Dr Mitchell won her NERC Fellowship to work on a project to assessing the consequences of Ediacaran ecology on early animal evolution.  For the uninitiated, the Ediacaran time period is 631-541 million years ago and it is at this time that animals first appear in the fossil record. 

The biology and ecology of Ediacaran organisms are not well resolved because their body-plans are fundamentally different to both life today and elsewhere in the fossil record.  Consequently, little is known about how the key evolutionary processes of competition and reproduction operate during the Ediacaran, and so it is not clear what role these factors play in the relatively slow start to animal evolution. The overarching objective of Emily’s project is to understand the interplay of these processes during the Ediacaran and how they influenced early animal evolution.

Emily joins us from the Department of Earth Sciences.  She studies a wide range of different benthic communities from the fossil record and in the modern Antarctic and deep-sea.  To collect fossil data in the field, she uses novel field-based laser-scanning techniques from aerospace to digitally capture entire rock surfaces.  Her work on modern systems uses data collected using automatically operated underwater vehicles and remotely operated underwater vehicles to create 3D digital models.

We are looking forward to finding our more about Emily’s work.  She is an excellent addition to the department who will be crossing over two of our research themes, namely Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics and Palaeobiology.