The Palaeobiology research theme at Birmingham spans an extraordinary range of biological, temporal and spatial scales, and represents one of the largest clusters of palaeobiologists in the UK.

Our research theme includes world-leading palaeobiologists with expertise stretching from single-celled algae to the largest vertebrates to have walked the Earth, as well as the plants they ate. Researchers have made fundamental contributions to understanding the evolution and diversity of life on Earth, such as the radiation of the earliest fish, the origins of terrestrial vegetation, the diversity and palaeobiology of dinosaurs, the impacts of mass extinctions, and the long-term evolution of marine phytoplankton. We have strong synergies with the palaeoclimate research theme within the Geosystems Research Group, allowing us to explore the complex inter-relationships between the Earth’s biosphere, climate and environment.

There are four key areas of research within the Palaeobiology theme:

Our staff and students

Academic Staff

Honorary staff

Postdoctoral researchers

PhD students and research assistants


Our research is funded through a diverse range of sources, including NERC, ERC, Marie Curie Actions, Leverhulme Trust, Royal Society and the Palaeontological Association. We actively encourage external collaborations, as well as welcoming and supporting fellowship applications. In recent years we have hosted Royal Society, NERC, Leverhulme Trust and Royal Commission of 1851 Fellows. For further information please contact any relevant member of academic staff and see opportunities to get involved with the Geosystems community.

Public engagement

Public engagement represents a significant component of our work. The Palaeobiology group has very strong links to the Lapworth Museum of Geology, and played a key role in developing the new Museum exhibitions. We use the Museum’s temporary exhibition space to showcase our research. We frequently deliver public talks, events and educational sessions, in the Museum and further afield – please contact any member of academic staff if you are interested in having us come to talk to your group about our research.

Related courses

We offer a bespoke Palaeobiology and Palaeoenvironments BSc/MSci programme as well as the only taught postgraduate programme in micropalaeontology in the UK - the MSc in Applied and Petroleum Micropalaeontology

Research-led teaching is a core part of our ethos, and we have an outstanding track record of helping our undergraduate and Masters students publish their research projects, present their work at conferences, and obtain funded PhD positions. 

The group includes a large, diverse and vibrant community of highly talented and motivated doctoral researchers, working on a broad range of field-, lab- and desk-based PhD projects. PhD opportunities are available annually through the CENTA doctoral training programme, and may also be advertised on an ad hoc basis as funding allows. We are always keen to talk to potential students about opportunities. We have an excellent track record of training our doctoral researchers for careers in palaeobiology, in museum, university and international research environments.


Geosystems success in securing four Palaeontological Association undergraduate research bursaries

The annual Palaeontological Association undergraduate bursaries include four awards for University of Birmingham students.

New research sheds light on first of five major mass extinctions

Dr James Wheeley, along with US and Canadian colleagues, has published findings of a project researching the state of global-ocean oxygenation 445 million years ago at the end of the Ordovician period when ~85% of marine species went extinct.

School hosts The Micropalaeontological Society Foraminifera and Nannofossil Group Meeting

From 19 to 22 June, the School hosted the annual TMS 'foram & nanno' group meeting - a highly regarded specialist meeting for micropalaeontologists from across Europe and beyond.
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