Professor Mark Purnell

Mark PurnellProfessor of Palaeobiology

Head of Research

Direct contact:
: 0116 252 3645 

Research Group: Palaeobiology, Palaeoenvironments and Palaeoclimates

Research Interests

My research interests range across taphonomy, functional morphology, palaeobiology, palaeoecology and taxonomy, including: experimental analysis of soft-tissue character decay and preservation; developing tooth microwear analysis of feeding in fishes and dinosaurs; aspects of the taphonomy and fauna of the Silurian Eramosa Lagerstatte; and ongoing conodont projects.  These projects involve collaborations with colleagues in the UK, USA, China and Canada.  I supervise postgraduate research on taphonomy, palaeobiology, and tooth microwear (mainly aquatic vertebrates).

Recent Publications

  • Purnell, M. A., Crumpton, N., Gill, P. G., Jones, G. & Rayfield, E. J. 2013: Within-guild dietary discrimination from 3-D textural analysis of tooth microwear in insectivorous mammals. Journal of Zoology 291, 249-257.
  • Purnell, M. A., Seehausen, O. & Galis, F. 2012: Quantitative 3D microtextural analysis of tooth wear as a tool for dietary discrimination in fishes. Journal of the Royal Society Interface. download pdf
  • Purnell, M. A. & Jones, D. O. 2012: Quantitative analysis of conodont tooth wear and damage as a test of ecological and functional hypotheses. Paleobiology 38, 605-626.
  • Sansom, R. S., Gabbott, S. E. & PURNELL, M. A. 2010: Non-random decay of chordate characters causes bias in fossil interpretation. Nature 463, 797-800.
  • Donoghue, P. C. J. & PURNELL, M. A. 2009: Distinguishing heat from light in debate over controversial fossils. Bioessays 31, 178-189.
  • Williams, V. S., Barrett, P. M. & PURNELL, M. A. 2009: Quantitative analysis of dental microwear in hadrosaurid dinosaurs, and the implications for hypotheses of jaw mechanics and feeding. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106, 11194–11199.
  • Full publications listing and pdf downloads on personal homepages


  • GL1001 Palaeobiology and the Stratigraphic Record (module co-ordinator)
  • GL3071 Diversity and Evolution of Vertebrates (module co-ordinator)
  • GL4067 Evolutionary Palaeobiology

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