Dr Jason Hilton PhD

Dr Jason Hilton

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Reader in Palaeobiology
School Student Engagement Coordinator

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Hilton is a research focused palaeobotanist and evolutionary plant biologist with interests in palaeoenvironments and palaeoecology. His underlying goals are to increase the quantity of paleobotanical data included into evolutionary analyses and to provide a more detailed understanding of the past environments and climates in which fossil plants lived.  He has a broad background in Geobiology and Earth Systems Science, and is an active researcher across a number of fields closely allied to his specialisation.  Jason is an Associate Editor for Palaeontologica Electronica, member of the Editorial Advisory Committee for Acta Palaeobotanica, an Editorial Advisor for the Journal of Palaeogeography, and a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London. In 2000 he received the President’s Award from the Geological Society of London for achievements in Geosciences.  Jason is currently Student Engagement Coordinator within the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences. 


  • BSc (University of Sheffield)
  • PhD (Cardiff University)


Dr Hilton is one of the core members of the Earth Sciences (Geology) teaching team.  He is module leader for the following modules:

  • Year 1 Field Skills (20 credits, 14 days fieldwork)
  • Year 2 Evolutionary and Environmental Palaeobiology (10 credits, lectures and practical classes)
  • Year 2 Resources of the Earth (10 and 20 credit variants, lectures and practical classes)
  • Year 2 Research Project Planning for Joint Honours (10 credits, lectures and small group tutorials)
  • Year 3 Geology and Archaeology Research Projects (40 credits, research projects)

In addition he contributes to the following modules:

  • Year 1 Topics in Geology (10 credit, essay instruction supervision, small group tutorials)
  • Year 2 Geological mapping training and fieldwork (20 credits, fieldwork supervision)
  • Year 3 Independent Research Projects (30 credits project supervision)
  • Year 4 Advances in Geology (10 credits, research essay supervision)
  • Year 3 and 4 Micropalaeontology (10 credits, lectures on pollen/spores)
  • Year 1 Earth History (10 credits, lectures on Palaeozoic stratigraphy and events)
  • Year 4 Advances in Geology (10 credits, research essay module)
  • Year 4 Advanced Projects (60 credits, project supervision)

Jason uses a range of methods within his teaching including traditinal lectures, specimen based practical classes, field geology, small group tutorials, seminars and interactive computer classes. 

Postgraduate supervision

Jason Hilton is a palaeobotanist and evolutionary plant biologist. His research has the four following focuses:

Seed plant evolution and phylogeny: the origin, early evolution, systematics, evolution and phylogeny of seed plants, and includes information from both living and extinct seed plants
Community Change in fossil floras: reconstructing terrestrial ecosystems though time, and looking at the floral response to environmental change
Fossil plants as biospheric indicators: using fossil plants as proxies for terrestrial palaeoclimate and palaeoenvironments, including studies of Late Palaeozoic gigantopterid plants, Carboniferous and Permian plant adaptation, and tertiary fossil plant assemblages
Fossil plants from China: well preserved fossil ferns from China and evolutionary aspects of fossil plant morphology and anatomy

Dr Hilton welcomes enquiries from prospective doctoral researchers in his areas of interest.


Dr Hilton is a research focused palaeobotanist and evolutionary plant biologist. His underlying goals are to increase the quantity of paleobotanical data included into evolutionary analyses and to improving the quality of existing fossil plant data.

Other activities

Dr Hilton is an avid fossil collector and enjoys spending time in the field and reading, and avoiding tasks including cleaning cars and gardening.


Recent publications


Xu, X-T, Shao, L-Y, Lan, B, Wang, S, Hilton, J, Qin, J-Y, Hou, H-H & Zhao, J 2020, 'Continental chemical weathering during the Early Cretaceous OAE1b Oceanic Anoxic Event : a case study from the Fuxin fluvio-lacustrine basin, Liaoning Province, China', Journal of Palaeogeography, (in Chinese with English abstract).

Wang, Z, Tan, J, Boyle, R, Hilton, J, Ma, Z, Wang, W, Lyu, Q, Kang, X & Luo, W 2020, 'Evaluating episodic hydrothermal activity in South China during the early Cambrian: Implications for biotic evolution', Marine and Petroleum Geology.

Wignall, P, Chu, D, Hilton, J, Dal Corso, J, Wu, Y, Wang, Y, Atkinson, J & Tong, J 2020, 'Death in the shallows: the record of Permo-Triassic mass extinction in paralic settings, southwest China', Global and Planetary Change. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloplacha.2020.103176

Guo, B, Eley, Y, Hilton, J, Zhou, M & Wang, Q 2020, 'Carbon-isotope, petrological and floral record in coals: Implication for Bajocian (Middle Jurassic) climate change', International Journal of Coal Geology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.coal.2020.103417

He, X-Y, Wang, S-J, Hilton, J, Galtier, J & Jiang, H-G 2020, 'An anatomically advanced species of the fern Botryopteris Renault from the Permian of southwestern China', Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, vol. 273, 104136, pp. 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.revpalbo.2019.104136

Pšenička, J, Wang, J, Hilton, J, Zhou, W, Bek, J, Opluštil, S & Frojdová, J 2020, 'A small, heterophyllous vine climbing on Psaronius and Cordaites trees in the earliest Permian forests of North China', International Journal of Plant Sciences.

Tan, J, Wang, Z, Wang, W, Hilton, J, Guo, J & Wang, X 2019, 'Depositional environment and hydrothermal controls on organic matter enrichment in the Lower Cambrian Niutitang Shale reservoir, South China', AAPG Bulletin.

Scott, A, Hilton, J, Galtier, J & Stampanoni, M 2019, 'A charcoalified ovule adapted for wind dispersal and deterring herbivory from the late Visean (Carboniferous) of Scotland', International Journal of Plant Sciences, vol. 180, no. 9, pp. 1059-1074. https://doi.org/10.1086/705590

Wang, S, Shao, L, Wang, D, Hilton, J & Lu, J 2019, 'Controls on accumulation of anonymously thick coals: implications for sequence stratigraphic analysis', Sedimentology. https://doi.org/10.1111/sed.12670

Neregato, RODRIGO & Hilton, J 2019, 'Reinvestigation of the enigmatic carboniferous sphenophyte strobilus cheirostrobus scott and implications of in situ retusotriletes spores', International Journal of Plant Sciences, vol. 180, no. 8, pp. 811-833. https://doi.org/10.1086/704945

Xiao-Yuan, H, Wang, S-J, Wang, J & Hilton, J 2019, 'The anatomically preserved tripinnate frond rothwellopteris pecopteroides gen. Et sp. nov. from the latest permian of south China: timing the stem to crown group transition in Marattiales', International Journal of Plant Sciences, vol. 180, no. 8, pp. 869-881. https://doi.org/10.1086/704946

Yang, Y, Xiao-Yuan, H, Hilton, J, Zhou, F-G, Chen, X-S & Wang, S-J 2019, 'Xuanweioxylon damogouense sp. nov., a gymnosperm stem from the Lopingian (late Permian) of southwestern China and its systematic and paleoecological implications', Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, vol. 269, pp. 94-103. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.revpalbo.2019.06.012

Guo, B, Shao, L, Hilton, J, Wang, S & Zhang, L 2018, 'Sequence stratigraphic interpretation of peatland evolution in thick coal seams: Examples from Yimin Formation (Early Cretaceous), Hailaer Basin, China', International Journal of Coal Geology, vol. 196, pp. 211-231. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.coal.2018.07.013

Zhao, Z, Tan, J, Ju, Y, Hilton, J, Yang, R, Zhou, P, Huang, Y, Ning, B & Liu, J 2018, 'Natural gas potential of Carboniferous and Permian transitional shales in central Hunan, South China', Journal of Natural Gas Science and Engineering, vol. 55, pp. 520-533. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jngse.2018.05.024

Review article

Coiro, M, Doyle, JA & Hilton, J 2019, 'How deep is the conflict between molecular and fossil evidence on the age of angiosperms?', New Phytologist, vol. 223, no. 1, pp. 83-99. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.15708

View all publications in research portal