Dr Sarah C King

Dr Sarah C King

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Honorary Research Fellow

Contact details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Sarah King is an expert in the biogeography of late Palaeozoic wetland plant communities from the ancient European and Chinese landmasses. Her research covers ecological, evolutionary and migrational processes, as well as the quality of the fossil record. She is also interested in the accessibility and utility of geological and natural history museum collections, both to academic researchers and the public, and currently works at Yorkshire Museum, as a Collections Facilitator for Natural Science.


PhD Palaeobotany (2012)
MSc (with distinction) Palaeobiology (2008)
MSci Geoscience (1st class hons; 2003)


Dr King completed an MSci degree in geoscience (Royal Holloway, University of London) before working as a project manager for a geophysical surveying company for three years. Following this she returned to academia to specialise in palaeontology, gaining a master’s degree in palaeobiology (University of Bristol) during which she researched the fossil record of the area surrounding the Joggins Fossil Forest in Nova Scotia. Her PhD in palaeobotany (University of Birmingham) examined the biogeography of late Palaeozoic equatorial wetland plants to assess their migrationary potential under climatic and habitat stresses. She currently works at Yorkshire Museum.


Teaching assistance (demonstrating, marking, feedback) on a range of undergraduate courses including:

  • Mapping skills
  • Mineralogy
  • Sedimentology
  • Field skills (10 day residential course in Pembrokeshire)


Research interests

  • Community dynamics of late Palaeozoic wetland plant communities (‘coal swamps’)
  • Plant biogeography
  • Public engagement with science
  • Quality of the fossil record
  • Chinese Palaeozoic palaeobotany and stratigraphy

Other activities

Employed at Yorkshire Museum. Previous to this, volunteering at several museums, including the Lapworth Museum of Geology, Dudley Museum and Art Gallery, and the National Museum, Wales. Work has including consultancy on fossil redisplays, outreach activities, documentation and preventative conservation. Cataloguing the natural history collections of Thinktank (Birmingham science museum).

Co-organiser of Progressive Palaeontology and the Palaeontological Association Annual Meeting (both 2009).

Membership of:

  • The Geological Society of London (Fellow)
  • The Palaeontological Association
  • The Paleontological Society
  • Museums Association
  • Natural Sciences Collections Association
  • Geological Curators’ Group


Cleal, C. J., Uhl, D., Cascales-Miñana, B., Thomas, B. A., Bashforth, A. R., King, S. C., Zodrow, E. L. 2012. Plant biodiversity changes in Carboniferous tropical wetlands. Earth-Science Reviews, 114, 124-155.

King, S. C. 2012. Life as a Palaeontologist: How I learnt to stop worrying and love the fossils. Palaeontology Online, Volume 2, Article 5, 1-9.

King, S.C., Cleal, C. J., Hilton, J. 2011. Common ground between two British Pennsylvanian wetland floras: Using large, first-hand datasets to assess utility of historical museum collections. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 308, 405-417.

King, S. C. 2012.What’s in a name? The issue of up-to-date taxonomy in museum collections. NATSca News, in review.

King, S. C., Hilton, J., Cleal, C. J., Jardine, P. E. 2012. Floristics of North China in the late Palaeozoic evidence a connection to Angara (Siberia) by the latest Pennsylvanian. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, in prep.

Conference abstracts:

King, S. C., Cleal, C. J., Hilton, J. 2012. The late Palaeozoic amalgamation of Pangaea: the view from the tropical riverbanks. Palaeontological Association Annual Meeting, Dublin.

King, S. C., Cleal, C. J., Hilton, J., Jardine, P. E. 2012. Carboniferous and Permian phytogeography of North China. Palaeobotany Specialist Group Meeting, Linnean Society, London.

King, S. C., Cleal, C. J., Hilton, J. 2010. A late Palaeozoic jigsaw puzzle: how and when did the wetland plant community template migrate? Third International Palaeontological Congress, London; 8th European Paleobotany – Palynology Conference, Budapest.

King, S. C., Hilton, J., Cleal, C. J. 2009. Examining Palaeozoic wetland plant communities: a methodology for large scale comparison. Palaeontological Association Annual Meeting, Birmingham.

King, S. C. 2009. Can plant communities travel? Tracing Late Palaeozoic wetland forests across the world. Progressive Palaeontology Conference, Birmingham.

King, S. C., Cleal, C. J. 2008. Moscovian macrofloras from South Wales, UK. 8th International Organisation of Palaeobotany Conference, Bonn.

King, S. C., Cleal, C. J. 2008. Late Asturian – early Cantabrian macrofloras from the Llantwit Beds, South Wales, United Kingdom. 11th Coal Geology Conference, Prague.