Professor Mark Purnell

Mark PurnellProfessor of Palaeobiology


Tel: +44 (0)116 252 3645 
Email: map2@le.ac.uk

 

Personal details

Director of Research, College of Science and Engineering

Teaching

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

Publications

  • Gabbott, S. E., Donoghue, P. C. J., Sansom, R. S., Vinther, J., Dolocan, A. & Purnell, M. A. 2016, Pigmented anatomy in Carboniferous cyclostomes and the evolution of the vertebrate eye. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: Biological Sciences
  • Zhang, H., Wang, Y., Janis, C. M., Goodall, R. H. & Purnell, M. A. in press: An examination of feeding ecology in Pleistocene proboscideans from southern China (Sinomastodon, Stegodon, Elephas), by means of Dental Microwear Texture Analysis. Quaternary International
  • Clements, T., Dolocan, A., Martin, P., Purnell, M. A., Vinther, J. & Gabbott, S. E. 2016: Eyes of Tullimonstrum gregarium (Mazon Creek, Carboniferous) reveal a vertebrate affinity. Nature 532, 500-503.
  • Murdock, D. J., Gabbott, S. E. & Purnell, M. A. 2016: The impact of taphonomic data on phylogenetic resolution: Helenodora inopinata (Carboniferous, Mazon Creek Lagerstatte) and the onychophoran stem lineage. BMC Evolutionary Biology 16, 19
  • Purnell, M. A. & Darras, L. P. G. 2015: 3D tooth microwear texture analysis in fishes as a test of dietary hypotheses of durophagy. Surface Topography: Metrology and Properties 4, 014006.
  • Goodall, R. H., Darras, L. & Purnell, M. A. 2015: Accuracy and precision of silicon based impression media for quantitative areal texture analysis. Scientific Reports 5, 10800, 1-14.
  • Cong, P.-Y., Hou, X.-G., Aldridge, R. J., Purnell, M. A. & Li, Y.-Z. 2015: New data on the palaeobiology of the enigmatic yunnanozoans from the Chengjiang Biota, Lower Cambrian, China. Palaeontology 58, 45-70.
  • Gill, P. G., Purnell, M. A., Crumpton, N., Robson Brown, K., Gostling, N. J., Stamponi, M. & Rayfield, E. J. 2014: Dietary specializations and diversity in feeding ecology of the earliest stem mammals. Nature 512, 303-305.
  • Murdock, D., Gabbott, S. E., Mayer, G. & Purnell, M. A. 2014: Decay of velvet worms (Onychophora), and bias in the fossil record of lobopodians. BMC Evolutionary Biology 14, 222.
  • Martinez-Perez, C., Rayfield, E. J., Purnell, M. A. & Donoghue, P. C. J. 2014: Finite element, occlusal, microwear and microstructural analyses indicate that conodont microstructure is adapted to dental function. Palaeontology 57, 1059-1066.
  • Baines, D. C., Purnell, M. A. & Hart, P. J. 2014: Tooth microwear formation rate in Gasterosteus aculeatus. Journal of Fish Biology 84, 1582-9.
  • 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 download pdf
  • Sansom, R. S., Gabbott, S. E. & Purnell, M. A. 2013: Unusual anal fin in a Devonian jawless vertebrate reveals complex origins of paired appendages. Biology Letters 9, 20130002-20130002.
  • Sansom, R. S., Gabbott, S. E. & Purnell, M. A. 2013: Atlas of vertebrate decay: a visual and taphonomic guide to fossil interpretation. Palaeontology 56, 457-474.
  • Atakul-Özdemir, A., Purnell, M. A. & Riley, N. J. 2012: Cladistic tests of monophyly and relationships of biostratigraphically significant conodonts using multielement skeletal data – Lochriea homopunctatus and the genus Lochriea. Palaeontology 55, 1279-1291. 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. download pdf
  • 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
  • Jones, D. O., Hartley, J., Frisch, G., Purnell, M. A. & Darras, L. 2012: Non-destructive, safe removal of conductive metal coatings from fossils: a new solution. Palaeontologia Electronica 15.2.4T. link to paper and pdf
  • Keating, J. N., Sansom, R. S. & Purnell, M. A. 2012: A new osteostracan fauna from the Devonian of the Welsh-Borderlands and observations on the taxonomy and growth of Osteostraci. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 32, 1002–1017. download pdf
  • Sansom, R. S., Gabbott, S. E. & Purnell, M. A. 2011: Decay of vertebrate characters in hagfish and lamprey (Cyclostomata) and the implications for the vertebrate fossil record. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences  download pdf
  • 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. download pdf
  • Sansom, R. S., Freedman, K., Gabbott, S. E., Aldridge, R. J. and PURNELL, M. A. 2010: Taphonomy and affinity of an enigmatic Silurian vertebrate, Jamoytius kerwoodi White. Palaeontology 53(6) (in press) download pdf
  • Jones, D. O., PURNELL, M. A. & von Bitter, P. H. 2009: Morphological criteria for recognising homology in isolated skeletal elements: comparison of traditional and morphometric approaches in conodonts. Palaeontology 52, 1243–1256. download pdf
  • 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. download pdf (with supplementary material).
  • Donoghue, P. & PURNELL, M. 2009: The Evolutionary Emergence of Vertebrates From Among Their Spineless Relatives. Evolution: Education and Outreach 2, 204-212 (Special Issue: Transitional Fossils). download pdf
  • Donoghue, P. C. J. & PURNELL, M. A. 2009: Distinguishing heat from light in debate over controversial fossils. Bioessays 31, 178-189. download pdf
  • Donoghue, P. C. J., PURNELL, M. A., Aldridge, R. J. & Zhang, S. 2008: The interrelationships of complex conodonts (Vertebrata). Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 6, 119–153. download pdf - download supplementary figures
  • PURNELL, M. A., Bell, M. A., Baines, D. C., Hart, P. J. B. & Travis, M. P. 2007: Correlated evolution and dietary change in fossil stickleback. Science 317, 1887. download pdf
  • von Bitter, P. H., PURNELL, M. A., Tetrault, D. K. & Stott, C. A. 2007: Eramosa Lagerstätte - exceptionally preserved soft-bodied biotas with shallow-marine shelly and bioturbating organisms (Silurian, Ontario, Canada). Geology 35, 879-882. download pdf
  • Jones, D. O. & PURNELL, M. A. 2007: A new semi-automatic morphometric protocol for conodonts and a preliminary taxonomic application. In MacLeod, N. (ed.): Automated object identification in systematics: theory, approaches, and applications, 239-259. CRC Press (for Systematics Association), London. download pdf
  • PURNELL, M. A., Hart, P. J. B., Baines, D. C. & Bell, M. A. 2006: Quantitative analysis of dental microwear in threespine stickleback: a new approach to analysis of trophic ecology in aquatic vertebrates. Journal of Animal Ecology 75, 967-977. download pdf
  • Williams, V., Purnell, M. A. and Gabbott, S. E. 2006. Dental microwear in dinosaurs: a comparative analysis of polysiloxane replication. Dental Practice 44:22-23. download pdf
  • Donoghue, P. C. J. & PURNELL, M. A. 2005: Genome duplication, extinction and vertebrate evolution. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 20, 312-319. download pdf
  • von Bitter, P. H. & PURNELL, M. A. 2005: An experimental investigation of postdepositional taphonomic bias in conodonts. In PURNELL, M. A. & Donoghue, P. C. J. (eds):  Conodont biology and phylogeny - interpreting the fossil record. Special Papers in Palaeontology 73, 39-56. Palaeontological Association. download pdf
  • PURNELL, M. A. & Donoghue, P. C. J. 2005: Between death and data: biases in interpretation of the fossil record of conodonts. In PURNELL, M. A. & Donoghue, P. C. J. (eds):  Conodont biology and phylogeny - interpreting the fossil record. Special Papers in Palaeontology 73, 7-25. Palaeontological Association. download pdf
  • PURNELL, M. A. & Donoghue, P. C. J. (eds) 2005: Conodont biology and phylogeny - interpreting the fossil record. Special Papers in Palaeontology 73. 218 pp. The Palaeontological Association.
  • PURNELL, M. A. & Cossey, P. J. 2004: Northumberland Trough. In Cossey, P. J., Adams, A. E., Purnell, M. A., Whiteley, M. J., Whyte, M. A. & Wright, V. P.:  British Lower Carboniferous Stratigraphy: Geological Conservation Review Volume 29, 107-166. JNCC, Peterborough.
  • Cossey, P. J., Gutteridge, P., PURNELL, M. A., Adams, A. E. & Walkden, G. M. 2004: Derbyshire Platform, North Staffordshire Basin and Hathern Shelf. In Cossey, P. J., Adams, A. E., Purnell, M. A., Whiteley, M. J., Whyte, M. A. & Wright, V. P.:  British Lower Carboniferous Stratigraphy: Geological Conservation Review Volume 29, 303-364. JNCC, Peterborough.
  • Cossey, P. J., Adams, A. E., PURNELL, M. A., Whiteley, M. J., Whyte, M. A. & Wright, V. P. 2004: British Lower Carboniferous Stratigraphy: Geological Conservation Review Volume 29. 617 pp.  JNCC, Peterborough.
  • PURNELL, M. A. 2003: Casting, replication, and anaglyph stereo imaging of microscopic detail in fossils, with examples from conodonts and other jawless vertebrates. Palaeontologia Electronica 6(2): 11p, 419KB; http://www.palaeo-electronica.org/2003_2/rubber/issue2_03.htm
  • PURNELL, M. A., von Bitter, P. H. & Groessens, E. 2003: Taphrognathus carinatus (Higgins & Varker) (Conodonta, Vertebrata) from the Lower Carboniferous of Belgium, and international correlation using taphrognathids. Journal of Micropalaeontology 21, 97-104. download pdf
  • PURNELL, M. A., Williams, M. & Akhurst, M. 2002: A rare conodont bedding plane assemblage from Dumfriesshire, Southern Uplands, Scotland. British Geological Survey, Internal Report IR/02/015R, 4pp.
  • Tolmacheva, T. Y. & PURNELL, M. A. 2002: Apparatus composition, growth, and survivorship of the Lower Ordovician conodont Paracordylodus gracilis Lindström, 1955. Palaeontology 45, 209-228. download pdf
  • PURNELL, M. A. 2002: Feeding in extinct jawless heterostracan fishes and testing scenarios of early vertebrate evolution. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B 269, 83-88. download pdf
  • PURNELL, M. A. 2001b: Scenarios, selection, and the ecology of early vertebrates. In Ahlberg, P. E. (ed.): Major events in early vertebrate evolution: palaeontology, phylogeny, genetics and development, 188-208. Taylor & Francis, London.
  • PURNELL, M. A. 2001a: Feeding in conodonts and other early vertebrates. In Briggs, D. E. G. & Crowther, P. R. (ed.): Palaeobiology II, 401-404. Blackwell Science, Oxford. download pdf
  • PURNELL, M. A. 2000: Fossil evidence of feeding and dietary preferences. In Singer, R. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Paleontology, Fitzroy Dearborn, Chicago.
  • Baesemann, J & PURNELL, M. A. 2000: Ubinates, a new name for the genus Aethotaxis Baesemann 1973 (Vertebrata, Conodonta) preoccupied by Aethotaxis Dewitt, 1962 (Vertebrata, Osteichtyes). Journal of Paleontology 74, 554. download pdf
  • PURNELL, M. A., Donoghue, P. C. J., & Aldridge, R. J. 2000: Orientation and anatomical notation in conodonts. Journal of Paleontology 74, 113-122. download pdf
  • Donoghue, P. C. J., & PURNELL, M. A. 1999: Growth, function, and the conodont fossil record. Geology 27, 251-254. download pdf
  • Donoghue, P. C. J., & PURNELL, M. A. 1999: Mammal-like occlusion in conodonts. Paleobiology 25, 58-74. download pdf
  • PURNELL, M. A. 1999: Conodonts: functional analysis of disarticulated skeletal structures lacking extant homologues. In Savazzi, E. (ed.) Functional Morphology of the Invertebrate Skeleton, 129-146, Wiley and Sons.
  • PURNELL, M. A., & Donoghue, P. C. J. 1999: Flattened fossils, physical modelling, and the restoration of collapsed skeletons. In Savazzi, E. (ed.) Functional Morphology of the Invertebrate Skeleton, 91-99, Wiley and Sons.
  • Donoghue, P. C. J., PURNELL, M. A., & Aldridge, R. J. 1998: Conodont anatomy, chordate phylogeny, and vertebrate classification. Lethaia 31, 211-219.
  • PURNELL, M. A., & Donoghue, P. C. J. 1998: Skeletal architecture, homologies and taphonomy of ozarkodinid conodonts. Palaeontology 41, 57-102. download pdf (from Palaeontological Association web site)
  • PURNELL, M. A., & Donoghue, P. C. J. 1997: Architecture and functional morphology of the skeletal apparatus of ozarkodinid conodonts. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B, 352, 1545-1564. download pdf
  • PURNELL, M. A. 1997: Was your ancestor a little killer? Rockwatch, Summer 1997, 10-11.
  • Aldridge, R. J., & PURNELL, M. A. 1996: The conodont controversies. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 11, 463-468. download pdf
  • PURNELL, M. A. 1996: Origins and Innovations: the first 200 million years of vertebrate evolution -Introduction. Transactions of the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society 90, 35-37.
  • PURNELL, M. A. 1995: Large eyes and vision in conodonts. Lethaia 28(2), 187-188.
  • PURNELL, M. A. & Armstrong, H. A. 1995: Chapter 5: The Lower Carboniferous of Bewcastle and Gilsland. In Scrutton, C. T. (ed.): Northumbria Rocks and Landscape, 62-70. Yorkshire Geological Society and Ellenbank Press.
  • PURNELL, M. A. 1995: Conodonts and the Cambrian origin of vertebrate skeletons. Journal of the Open University Geological Society 15 (Symposium Edition, 1994), 6-9.
  • PURNELL, M. A., Aldridge, R. J., Donoghue, P. C. J. & Gabbott, S. E. 1995: Conodonts and the first vertebrates. Endeavour 19, 20-27.
  • PURNELL, M. A. 1995: Microwear in conodont elements and macrophagy in the first vertebrates. Nature 374, 798-800. download pdf
  • Aldridge, R. J., PURNELL, M. A., Gabbott, S. E. & Theron, J. N. 1995: The apparatus architecture and function of Promissum pulchrum Kovács-Endrödy (Conodonta, Upper Ordovician), and the prioniodontid plan. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B 347, 275-291.
  • PURNELL, M. A. 1994: Skeletal ontogeny and feeding mechanisms in conodonts. Lethaia 27, 129-138.
  • Armstrong, H. A. & PURNELL, M. A. 1993: Thermal maturation of the Lower Carboniferous strata of the Northumberland Trough and Tweed Basin from conodont colour alteration index (CAI) data. Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society 49, 335-343.
  • PURNELL, M. A. 1993: The Kladognathus apparatus (Conodonta, Carboniferous): homologies with ozarkodinids and the prioniodinid Bauplan. Journal of Paleontology 67, 875-882.
  • PURNELL, M. A. 1993: Feeding mechanisms in conodonts and the function of the earliest vertebrate hard tissues. Geology 21, 375-377.
  • PURNELL, M. A. & von Bitter, P. H. 1992: Vogelgnathus Norby and Rexroad (Conodonta): new species from the Lower Carboniferous of Atlantic Canada and Northern England. Journal of Paleontology 66, 311-332.
  • PURNELL, M. A. 1992: Conodonts of the Lower Border Group and equivalent strata (Lower Carboniferous) in northern Cumbria and the Scottish Borders. Royal Ontario Museum, Life Sciences Contributions 156, 1-79.
  • PURNELL, M. A. & von Bitter, P. H. 1992: Blade-shaped conodont elements functioned as cutting teeth. Nature 359, 629-631.
  • Armstrong, H. A. & PURNELL, M. A. 1987: Dinantian conodont biostratigraphy of the Northumberland trough. Journal of Micropalaeontology 6, 97-112.

Research

Research group: Palaeobiology, Palaeoenvironments and Palaeoclimates

My research interests range across:

  • taphonomy and exceptional preservation
  • functional morphology
  • palaeobiology
  • palaeoecology
  • taxonomy

including:

  • experimental analysis of soft-tissue character decay and preservation
  • developing tooth microwear analysis of feeding in aquatic vertebrates and dinosaurs
  • aspects of the taphonomy and fauna of the Silurian Eramosa Lagerstatte
  • palaeobiology of conodonts and other early vertebrates

These projects involve collaborations with colleagues in the UK, USA, China and Canada.

Some of my current and recent work includes:

Research staff

  • Duncan Murdock, PDRA 2011-2012, 2013-2016
  • Laurent Darras, RA 2010-2013
  • Rob Sansom, PDRA 2008-2011
  • David Jones, PDRA 2008-2009
  • David Baines, PGRA 2003-2008

Supervision

I have supervised postgraduate research on:

  • palaeobiology
  • palaeoecology and taphonomy of conodonts
  • tooth microwear
  • taphonomy
  • ornithiscian dinosaurs
  • hydrodynamics and locomotion of armoured jawless fishes
  • plesiosaur systematics and palaeobiology

PhD opportunities

I am always on the look-out for good students interested in research projects linked to my areas of research. If you have a project in mind, drop me an email.

PhD students

  • Current: Chris Nedza, Taphonomy of pigment patterns in fishes
  • Current: Jordan Bestwick, Tooth microwear and biomechanical analysis of feeding in pterosaurs
  • Current: Thomas Clements, Decay, preservation and environmental controls on non-biomineralized fossil anatomy: the taphonomy of the Carboniferous Mazon Creek, USA
  • Current: Laura McLennan, Tooth wear and microtextural analysis as a tool for dietary discrimination in sharks
  • 2017: Rob Goodall, Tooth wear in fishes and killer whales - developing 3D microtextural analysis as a robust tool for dietary and trophic analysis in living and fossil aquatic vertebrates
  • 2015: Oliver Knevitt, Taphonomy and palaeobiology of an exceptionally preserved Silurian Biota - the Eramosa Lagerstätte
  • 2012: Laurent Darras, The evolution and macroecological consequences of grazing and shell crushing in fishes
  • 2012: Mark Evans, Anatomy and palaeobiology of plesiosaurs
  • 2010: Vince Williams, Tooth microwear, feeding and dietary evolution in ornithischian dinosaurs
  • 2010: David Baines, Tooth microwear in living and fossil fishes
  • 2009: Ben Davies (MPhil), Hydrodynamics and swimming in extinct jawless fishes
  • 2006: David Jones, Morphometric Analysis of Conodonts
  • 2004: Natalie Thomas, Taphonomy of the Bear Gulch Lagerstätte
  • 2000: Stephanie Barrett, The function, histology & classification of selected prioniodontid conodonts
  • 1999: Kim Freeman, Aspects of the taphonomy of jawless vertebrates
  • 1996: Philip Donoghue, The architecture, Growth and function of ozarkodinid conodonts

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Contact Details

School of Geography, Geology and the Environment
University of Leicester
University Road
Leicester
LE1 7RH, UK

T: +44 (0)116 252 3933
E: geology@le.ac.uk

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