Professor Sarah Gabbott

Sarah GabbottProfessor of Palaeobiology

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 3636


I trained as a geologist (undergraduate degree) and palaeobiologist (PhD) and much of my career has involved broad interlinked research interests seeking to understand the evolution, history and geological record of life on our planet.

As a palaeobiologist I have focussed mostly on exceptionally preserved fossils, where remarkably the organic features of animals, which usually perish rapidly after death, have been transformed through a variety of processes to become geologically stable materials – faithfully recording long-extinct animal anatomy. From these fossils we can gain a much more detailed and comprehensive picture of ancient life, but first we must “read” them correctly. This can be challenging because during their formation processes such as transport, decay and sediment interactions have altered the physical and chemical state of the animal carcass compared to that of the fossil. Knowing how and when is critical to interpreting such fossils.

I use a variety of analytical techniques and novel laboratory decay experiments to understand the transformation of animal remains during fossilization. But also, to extract useful information from fossils we must take a holistic approach and understand not only how they formed, but where the animals lived and where the fossilization process occurred. To do this I undertake detailed investigation of the sediments in which fossils (or other organic matter) is found including looking at details of texture and chemistry to unravel the depositional process and environment.

More recently, as well as working on organic material that was once living, and is prone to decay, I have also started applying my expertise to more durable and man-made organic compounds, such as plastic. In all this work I combine the design of laboratory experiments to model physical and chemical transformations, with data collected from real world samples to gain maximum understanding of how process leads to preservation, or to loss, of originally organic material.

My current research projects in palaeobiology fall in to four main areas:

My current research projects projects related to plastics:

  • The geological cycle of plastics
  • Plastic in Africa

Palaeobiology funding and awards

My palaeobiology research is very focused on academic rather than applied or industry based work. Consequently, it has been funded almost exclusively through competitively won grants from NERC (£1.16 million in total over 7 years).

In addition, The Royal Society, the National Geographic Magazine and The Geological Society of London and the British Geological Survey have provided additional funding for my projects. I continue to actively develop and apply for funding to underpin new research.


  • Royal Society International Newton Fellowship to Victoria McCoy. This funds 2 years post-doctoral research to work on the project ‘Soft tissue preservation in amber’. £95,963.
  • Chinese Scholarship Council awarded to Changshi Qi and Gabbott to fund a year’s post-doctoral research for Changshi Qi to work on the sedimentology and geochemistry of the Cambrian Chengjiang with Gabbott. £15,000.
  • Royal Society International Exchange (Russia). Awaiting final decision currently on reserve list for project: ‘How carcasses rot and fossils form: experimental decay and preservation in clays’. Principal Investigator. Total UK/Russia funding £24,000.


  • Palaeontological Association grant to fund Symposium ‘Rotten fossils? Experimental and analytical approaches to decay and exceptional preservation of soft tissues’ at the 4th International Palaeontological Congress, Mendoza, Argentina. £2000.


  • National Geographic Explorers Award in Research to fund drilling in South Africa and research on ‘The winds of change: did dust blown from a glacial landscape fertilize the ocean after the end-Ordovician glaciation?’ €20,000. Principal Investigator.
  • Association of European Marine Biological Laboratories to fund collection trip for amphioxus (travel, subsistence, lab space, boat time etc.). Principal Investigator.
  • Systematics and Taxonomy (SynTax) grant to fund ‘Taphonomic bias in taxonomic and systematic analysis of fossils from the Silurian Eramosa Lagerstätte, Canada’. £18,307. Co-investigator (with Mark Purnell).
  • Natural Environmental Research Council FeC Standard Grant to fund ‘Deuterostome decay – taphonomic testing of fossil anatomy and phylogenetic placement’. Co-investigator (with Mark Purnell). £551,943.


  • Natural Environmental Research Council FeC Small Research Grant to fund ‘Experimental decay of onychophorans - lobopodian anatomy and arthropod origins’. Co-investigator (with Mark Purnell). £65,959.


  • Natural Environmental Research Council FeC NIGL grant to fund ‘Preservation and taphonomy of the fossils of the Herefordshire (Silurian) Konservat-Lagerstätte’. Principal Investigator. £12,000.


  • Natural Environmental Research Council FeC Small Research Grant to fund ‘Exceptional fossil preservation in the Comley Lagerstätte, Shropshire: testing the phylogeny of Early Cambrian animals’. Co-investigator (with Mark Williams and David Siveter). £83,329.


  • Natural Environmental Research Council FeC Standard Grant to fund ‘The problem of vertebrate origins – comparative taphonomy of non-biomineralized chordates and the meaning of gaps in the fossil record’. Principal Investigator. £414,541.


  • The Geological Society of London Elgar Wood fund awarded to fund research materials. Principal Investigator. £600.


  • The Geological Society of London Gloyne Outdoor Geological Research Fund for fieldwork in South Africa. Principal Investigator. £865.


  • Royal Society Small Research Grant ‘The preservation and palaeobiology of Cambrian animals’ to fund collaborative work in China on the Chengjiang biota, and visits by Chinese colleagues to UK. Co-investigator (with David Siveter). £12,000.


  • Royal Society Equipment Grant to purchase a Petroscope. Principal Investigator (CoI Jan Zalasiewicz). £5451.
  • Royal Society Conference grant to attend First Australian Palaeontological Congress, Sydney. £739.


  • UoL Research Grant for new lecturers ‘The geochemistry and sedimentology of the Cambrian Burgess Shale’ £3000.


Postdoctoral researchers

2015-2017: Scientific sponsor to Victoria McCoy funded by a Royal Society International Newton Fellowship grant working on ‘Soft tissue preservation in amber’.
Tory McCoy
Tory McCoy
2015-2016: Principal Line Manager Changshi Qui a Chinese Scholarship Council funded post-doctorate working on the sedimentology and taphonomy of the Chengjiang Lagerstȁtte.
Changshi Qi
Changshi Qi

2013-2017: Joint Line Manager (with Mark Purnell) to a Post Doctoral Research Associate Duncan Murdock (grade 7) on NERC funded standard research grant ‘Deuterostome decay – taphonomic testing of fossil anatomy and phylogenetic placement’.

2010-2012: Joint Line Manager (with Mark Purnell) to a Post Doctoral Research Associate Duncan Murdock (grade 7) on NERC funded standard research grant ‘Experimental decay of onychophorans - lobopodian anatomy and arthropod origins’. Now employed as Post Doctorate Researcher.

Duncan Murdock
Duncan Murdock
2008-2009: Joint Line Manager (with Mark Williams) to a Post Doctoral Research Associate Thomas Harvey (grade 6) on NERC funded standard research grant ‘Exceptional fossil preservation in the Comley Lagerstätte, Shropshire: testing the phylogeny of Early Cambrian animals’. Now employed as Lecturer Department of Geology, University of Leicester.
Thomas Harvey
Thomas Harvey
2008-2011: Principal Line Manager to a Post Doctoral Research Associate Robert Sansom (grade 7) on NERC funded standard research grant: “The problem of vertebrate origins – comparative taphonomy and gaps in the fossil record”. Now employed as a lecturer, University of Manchester.
Rob Samson
Rob Samson

PhD students

2015-current CASP funded. Michael Morton. Source rock sedimentology and isotope geochemistry.
*2015-current Chinese Scholarship Council funded 2 years for Chinese Student to work with me (and Mark Williams) on fossils from the Chengjiang.
Yujing Li
Yujing Li
2014-current NERC funded. Tom Hearing. Cambrian environments from palaeoproxy analysis.
Thomas Hearing
Thomas Hearing
2013-current NERC funded. Leah Nolan. Isotopic reconstruction of Carboniferous climate.
Leah Nolan
Leah Nolan
*2013-current NERC funded. Thomas Clements. The taphonomy of the Mazon Creek Lagerstȁtte.
Thomas Clements
Thomas Clements
2010-current Syntax Grant funded. Oliver Knevitt. The taphonomy of the Silurian Eramosa.
Oliver Knevitt
Oliver Knevitt

*2007-2011 Self-funded. David Riley. The taphonomy of the Silurian Herefordshire Lagerstätte, UK. Now employed as geologist at Chemostrat UK, Petroleum support company.
David Riley
David Riley

2004-2008 Self-funded. Vince Williams. Oral food processing in ornithopod dinosaurs: implications of tooth microwear. Now employed as Geology A’level Teacher.
Vince Williams
Vince Williams

*2004-2008 Aggregate Industries funded. Ma Xiaoya. Fossils from the Early Cambrian Chengjiang biota, Yunnan Province, China. Now employed as a Post-Doctorate, Imperial College London.
Ma Xiaoya
Ma Xiaoya

*2003-2007 NERC funded. Rowan Whittle. Invertebrate fossil from South Africa. Now employed as palaeontologist, British Antarctic Survey.
Rowan Whittle
Rowan Whittle

2002-2005 NERC funded. Laura Braznell. Taphonomy of Carboniferous siderite-hosted Lagerstatten (Univerisity of Birmingham).
*2001-2004 NERC funded: Natalie Thomas. The taphonomy of a Carboniferous Lagerstätte. Now employed as Environmental Consultant.
*2000-2003 Greek Government Scholarship funded: George Illiopoulos. Fossils and chemistry of Miocene bones from Greece. Now employed as lecturer University of Crete.
George Illiopoulos
George Illiopoulos

*lead supervisor

Personal details

  • Invited member of the French ANR grant evaluation Committee for Living Earth (equivalent to RCUK) (2016-current; in 2017, 2018 Vice Chair of panel)
  • British Association Media Fellow (2017): spent summer on secondment with BBC
  • Invited Review Panel member for Centre for Landscape and Climate Research (UoL) (2017)
  • Invited Scientific Editor for the Journal 'Palaeontology' (2015)
  • Invited Convener for symposium on ‘Reading the record of shales: archives of past process, climate and life’. International Geological Congress, Cape Town (2016)
  • Co-convener for symposium on Experimental Taphonomy, International Palaeontogical Congress, Argentina (2014)
  • Invited Chair at Symposium, International Palaeontogical Congress, Argentina (2014)
  • Shortlisted for the Times Higher Awards Research Project of the Year. 'The problem of vertebrate origins – comparative taphonomy and gaps in the fossil record' on which I was Principal Investigator (2011)
  • Invited Chair of Symposium on Taphonomy, International Palaeontogical Congress, London (2010)
  • Invited co-convenor and scientific member of the organizing committee for Discovery of the Burgess Shale: an international conference on the Cambrian explosion in Banff, Canada (2009)
  • Invited speaker at Association for Science Education's Annual Meeting (attended by 3000 science teachers) to showcase Palaeontology to A-level teachers. Subsequently, aspects of my presentation were in articles in the Times Higher Education Supplement and Teaching Earth Science Magazine (2005)
  • Council Member of the Palaeontological Association (2001-2004)
  • Organising committee for the 47th Annual Paleontological Association Conference (Leicester) (2003)
  • The President’s Award of the Geological Society of London which is given each year to 'a young geoscientist of outstanding talent and promise' (1998)
  • Palaeontological Association prize for the best talk at the Annual Conference given by a researcher below the age of 30 (1996)

Public understanding of science and impact

I have a passion for widening the reach of my research to those that would not normally access it through the usual academic outputs. I have enjoyed undertaking activities and talks which enable science to be accessed by the general public, and in particular younger adults and children, in an exciting and understandable way. In 2017 I was selected to be 1 of 10 UK British Association Science Media Fellows and worked on secondment with the BBC.

BBC online articles I have authored

Did the first flower look like this?

Secrets of the World's toughest creatures revealed

Does the UK need a 'body farm' ?

Armoured tank-like dinosaur used camouflage to hide

Penguins feathers record migration route

First 'winged' mammals flew over dinosaurs

Pollination threatened by artificial light


Exhibitions for the general public

I successfully bid to the Royal Society to exhibit our research (with Mark Purnell and Rob Sansom) on how decay experiments can be used to better understand the fossil record of soft-bodied early vertebrates. With funding from the University, The Palaeontological Association, and The Natural Environment Research Council this culminated in an interactive exhibit  ‘Rotten fish and fossils: resolving the riddle of our earliest vertebrate ancestors’ which we have exhibited across the UK at these events:

  • the prestigious Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition (2011) with over 13,700 visitors
  • UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fairs, Big Bang 2012 (London) and Big Bang 2013 (Birmingham): designed to raise awareness and dispel myths about STEM and careers within STEM. More than 115,000 young people, their teachers and parents attended
  • Cheltenham Science Fair (2012); >10,000 visitors
  • University Week at the Natural History Museum (2014)
  • Highcross Shopping Centre, Leicester (2014)

These exhibitions have had a significant positive impact (for example, 60% of students after visiting Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2011 were more interested in science and science-based careers).


  • GL2107 Major Events in the History of Life
  • Arran and Sicily field courses


  • Deputy Director of Research School of Geography, Geology and Environment
  • 2021 REF-lead for Unit of Assessment 7 (2017-current)
  • Director of Learning and Teaching for the Geology Department (2012-2015)
  • Course Director for Geology with Palaeobiology BSc and MGeol. degrees (2014-current)
  • Course Director for Geography with Geology BSc and MGeol. degrees (2014-current)
  • Athena Swan Committee (2011-2014)
  • Admissions Tutor Department of Geology (2005-2008)
  • Board of Studies for the Geography with Geology BSc. (2000-2007)
  • Course Director for the Geology with Palaeobiology BSc and MGeol. degree programmes. During this period I prepared the data and documentation required for successful Accreditation of these degrees (Geological Society of London). (2003-2004)
  • Schools Liaison Tutor (2000-2004)

College and University:

  • University Director of Advanced Microscopy Facility
  • College of Science and Engineering representative on University Research Infrastructure Advisory Group (2017- current)
  • University Student Experience and Enhancement Group (2015-current)
  • College of Science and Engineering Academic Committee (2012-2016)
  • College of Science and Engineering representative on Academic Policy Committee (2014 to 2016)
  • Panel Member for Department of Physics Periodic Development Review (2015)
  • Member of Course Approval Panel for new degrees (2012-2015)


  • Williams, M., Gabbott, S.E., Hou, X., Siveter, D., Siveter, D., Ma, X., Sansom, R.A. new species of the artiopodan arthropod Acanthomeridion from the lower Cambrian Chengjiang Lagerstaette, China, and the phylogenetic significance of the genus. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. In press.
  • Purnell, M.A., Donoghue, P., Gabbott, S.E., McNamara, M., Murdock, D., & Sansom, R. (n.d.). Frontiers Review: Experimental analysis of soft-tissue fossilization – opening the black box. Palaeontology. In press.
  • McCoy, V. E., Soriano, C., & Gabbott, S.E. (2018). A review of preservational variation of fossil inclusions in amber of different chemical groups. Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 1-9. doi:10.1017/S1755691017000391
  • Gabbott, S.E., Browning, C., Theron, J.N., & Whittle, R.J. (2017). The late Ordovician Soom Shale Lagerstatte: an extraordinary post-glacial fossil and sedimentary record. Journal of the Geological Society, London 174(1), 1-9. doi:10.1144/jgs2016-076
  • McCoy, V.E., Boom, A., Kraemer, M.M.S., & Gabbott, S.E. (2017). The chemistry of American and African amber, copal, and resin from the genus Hymenaea. Organic Geochemistry, 113, 43-54. doi:10.1016/j.orggeochem.2017.08.005
  • Ma, X., Cong, P., Williams, M., Siveter, D., Siveter, D., Gabbott, S., . . . Hou, X. (2017). Host specific infestation in early Cambrian worms. Nature Ecology and Evolution, 1, 1465-1469. doi:10.1038/s41559-017-0278-4
  • 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 B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 283(1836), 8 pages. doi:10.1098/rspb.2016.1151
  • Williams, M., Siveter, D.J., Siveter, D.J., Gabbott, S.E., Ma, X., Purnell, M.A., & Cong, P. (2016). The spectacular fossils of the ‘water margin’: the Cambrian biota of Chengjiang, Yunnan, China. Geology Today, 32(6), 233-237. doi:10.1111/gto.12169
  • Clements, T., Dolocan, A., Martin, P., Purnell, M. A., Vinther, J., & Gabbott, S. E. (2016). The eyes of Tullimonstrum reveal a vertebrate affinity. Nature, 532(7600), 500-+. doi:10.1038/nature17647
  • Murdock, D. J. E., 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, 14 pages. doi:10.1186/s12862-016-0582-7
  • Colleary, C., Dolocan, A., Gardner, J., Singh, S., Wuttke, M., Rabenstein, R., . . . Vinther, J. (2015). Chemical, experimental, and morphological evidence for diagenetically altered melanin in exceptionally preserved fossils. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 112(41), 12592-12597. doi:10.1073/pnas.1509831112
  • Xianguang Hou, Williams, M., Siveter, D.J., Siveter, D.J., Gabbott, S.E., Holwell, D. and Harvey, T.H.P. (2014). A chancelloriid-like metazoan from the early Cambrian Chengjiang Lagerstätte, China. Scientific Reports, 4, 7340. doi:10.1038/srep07340
  • Murdock, D.J.E., Gabbott, S.E., Mayer G. and Purnell, M.A. (2014). Decay of velvet worms (Onychophora), and bias in the fossil record of lobopodians. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 14, 222. doi:10.1186/s12862-014-0222-z
  • Sansom, R.S.; Gabbott, S.E. and Purnell, M.A. (2013). Atlas of vertebrate decay: a visual and taphonomic guide to fossil interpretation. Palaeontology, 56, 457-474. DOI:10.1111/pala.12037
  • Sansom, R.S.; Gabbott, S.E. and Purnell, M.A. (2013). Unusual anal fin in a Devonian jawless vertebrate reveals complex origins of paired appendages. Biology Letters, DOI:10.1098/rsbl.2013.0002
  • Aldridge, R.A., Murdoch, D.M., Gabbott, S.E., Theron, J.N. (2013). A seventeen-element conodont apparatus from the Soom Shale Lagerstätte (Upper Ordovician), South Africa. Palaeontology, 56, 261-276.
  • Gaines, R.R., Emma U. Hammarlund, E.U., Xianguang Hou, Changshi Qie, Gabbott, S.E., Yuanlong Zhaog, Jin Pengg, and Canfield, D.E. (2012). Mechanism for Burgess Shale-type preservation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 109, E1902.
  • Gaines, R.R., Hammarlund, E.U., Hou, X.G., Qi, C., Gabbott, S.E., Zhao, Y.L., Peng, J., and Canfield, D.E., 2012, Reply to Butterfield: Low-sulfate and early cements inhibit decay and promote Burgess Shale-type preservationProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA v. 109, E1902.
  • Ma, X., Hou, X., Aldridge, R.J., Siveter, D.J., Siveter, D.J., Gabbott, S.E., Edgecombe, G.D. (2012). Morphology of Cambrian lobopodian eyes from the Chengjiang Lagerstätte and their evolutionary significance. Arthropod Structure & Development. doi:10.1016/j.asd.2012.03.002
  • Sansom, R.S, Gabbott, S.E., and 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, 278,1150-1157. doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.1641
  • Harvey, T.H.P., Williams, M., Condon, D.J., Wilby, P.R., Siveter, D.J., Rushton, A. W.A., Gabbott, S.E. (2011). A refined chronology for the Cambrian succession of southern Britain. Journal of the Geological Society, 168(3), 705-716. doi:10.1144/0016-76492010-031
  • Gabbott, S.E., Zalasiewicz, J.A., Aldridge, R.J., & Theron, N. (2010). Eolian input into the Late Ordovician postglacial Soom Shale, South Africa. Geology, 38(12), 1103-1106. doi:10.1130/G31426.1
  • 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. doi:10.1038/nature08745
  • Sansom, R.S., Freedman, K., Gabbott, S.E., Aldridge, R.J., & Purnell, M.A. (2010). Taphonomy and Affinity of an Enigmatic Silurian vertebrate, Jamoytius Kerwoodi White. Palaeontology, 1-17. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4983.2010.01019
  • Bassett, M.G., Popov, L.E., Aldridge, R.A., Gabbott, S.E., & Theron, J.N. (2009). Brachiopoda from the Soom Shale Lagerstatte (Upper Ordovician, South Africa). Journal of Paleontology, 83(4), 614-623. doi:10.1666/08-136.1
  • Whittle, R.J., Gabbott, S.E., Aldridge, R.J., & Theron, J. (2009). An Ordovician Lobopodian from the Soom Shale Lagerstatte, South Africa. Palaeontology, 52, 561-567. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4983.2009.00860.x
  • Vandenbroucke, T.R.A., Gabbott, S.E., Paris, F., Aldridge, R.J., & Theron, J.N. (2009). Chitinozoans and the age of the Soon Shale, an Ordovician black shale Lagerstatte, South Africa. Journal of Micropalaeontology, 28, 53-66.
  • Whittle, R., Gabbott, S.E., Aldridge, R.J., & Theron, J. (2008). Late Ordovician (Hirnantian) scolecodont clusters from the Soom Shale Lagerstatte, South Africa. Journal of Micropalaeontology, 27(2), 147-159.
  • Page, A., Gabbott, S.E., Wilby, P.R., & Zalasiewicz, J.A. (2008). Ubiquitous Burgess Shale-style "clay templates" in low-grade metamorphic mudrocks. Geology, 36(11), 855-858. doi:10.1130/G24991A.1
  • Gabbott, S.E., Zalasiewicz, J.A., & Collins, D. (2008). Sedimentation of the Phyllopod Bed Within the Cambrian Burgess Shale Formation of British Columbia. Journal of the Geological Society of London, 165, 307-318. doi:10.144/0016-76492007-023
  • Whittle, R.J., Gabbott, S.E., Aldridge, R.J., & Theron, J.N. (2007). Taphonomy and palaeoecology of a Late Ordovician caryocaridid from the Soom Shale Lagerstatte, South Africa. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 251(3-4), 383-397. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2007.04.006
  • Aldridge, R.J., Hou, X.G., Siveter, D.J., Siveter, D.J., & Gabbott, S.E. (2007). The Systematics and phylogenetic relationships of vetulicolians. Palaeontology, 50(1), 131-168. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4983.2006.00606.x
  • Aldridge, R.J., Gabbott, S.E., Siveter, L.J., & Theron, J.N. (2006). Bromalites from the Soom Shale Lagerstätte (Upper Ordovician) of South Africa: palaeoecological and palaeobiological implication. Palaeontology, 49(4), 857-871. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4983.2006.00570.x
  • Gabbott, S.E., Norry., J,M., Hou., Xian-guang., Siveter, D.J. (2004). Preservation of Lower Cambrian animals of the Chengjiang biota. Geology, 32(10), 901-904. doi:10.1130/G20640.1
  • Gabbott, S.E., Siveter, D.J., Aldridge, R.J., & Theron, J.N. (2003). The earliest myodocopes: ostracodes from the late Ordovician Soom Shale Lagerstätte of South Africa. Lethaia, 36(3), 151-160. doi:10.1080/00241160310004620
  • Gabbott, S.E., Norry, M.J., Aldridge, R.J., & Theron, J.N. (2001). Preservation of fossils in clay minerals; a unique example from the Upper Ordovician Soom Shale, South Africa. Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society, 53(3), 237-244.
  • Gabbott, S.E. (1999). Orthoconic cephalopods and associated fauna from the late Ordovician Soom Shale Lagerstatte, South Africa. Palaeontology, 42, 567-568.
  • Braddy, S.J., Aldridge, R.J., Gabbott, S.E., & Theron, J. N. (1999). Lamellate book-gills in a late Ordovician eurypterid from the Soom Shale, South Africa: support for a eurypterid-scorpion clade. Lethaia, 32(1), 72-74.
  • Gabbott, S.E. (1999). Orthoconic cephalopods and associated fauna from the late Ordovician Soom Shale Lagerstatte, South Africa. Palaeontology, 42, 123-148. doi:10.1111/1475-4983.00065
  • Gabbott, S.E. (1998). Taphonomy of the Ordovician Soom Shale Lagerstatte: An example of soft tissue preservation in clay minerals. Palaeontology, 41, 631-667.
  • Gabbott, S.E., Aldridge, R.J., & Theron, J.N. (1998). Chitinozoan chains and cocoons from the upper Ordovician Soom shale lagerstatte, South Africa: implications for affinity. Journal of the Geological Society, 155, 447-452. doi:10.1144/gsjgs.155.3.0447
  • Gabbott, S.E., Aldridge, R.J., & Theron, J.N. (1995). A giant conodont with preserved muscle-tissue from the Upper Ordovician of South Africa. Nature, 374(6525), 800-803. doi:10.1038/374800a0
  • Aldridge, R.J., Purnell, M.A., Gabbott, S.E., & Theron, J.N. The apparatus architecture and function of Promissum pulchrum kovacs-endrody (Conodonta, upper Ordovician) and the prioniodontid plan. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London - Biological Sciences, 347(1321), 275-291. doi:10.1098/rstb.1995.0027
  • Purnell, M.A., Aldridge, R.J., Donoghue, P.C.J., & Gabbott, S.E. (1995). Conodonts and the first vertebrates. Endeavour, 19(1), 20-27. doi:10.1016/0160-9327(95)98890-R
  • Aldridge, R. J., Theron, J. N., & Gabbott, S.E. (1994). The Soom shale: a unique Ordovician fossil horizon in South Africa. Geology Today, 10(6), 218-221.

Peer reviewed book sections/chapters

  • Gabbott, S.E. January 2006. Exceptional Preservation In: Encyclopedia of Life Science. John Wiley and Sons, Ltd, Chichester,
  • Gabbott, S.E. 2005. Life on Earth: Lagerstätten. pp. 307-315. In: R.C. Selley, L.R.M. Cocks, and I.R. Plimer, eds. Encyclopedia of Geology. Elsevier, Oxford.
  • Aldridge, R. J., Gabbott, S.E., and J.N. Theron. 2001. The Soom Shale p.340-342. In: Briggs, D.E.G. and P.R. Crowther. Palaeobiology 11. Blackwell Sciences, Oxford.

Pedagogic articles

  • Gabbott, S.E. 2006. Exceptional Preservation: Windows on to the evolution of life. Teaching Earth Science 31(1): 11-14.
  • Alvanides, S.,  Davis, S. Gabbott, S.E. Gallagher, C. Harris, F. North, P. Tuckwell, G. Wilson, M. 2003. Pedagogic Research: The new frontier? LTSN Learning Teaching Science Network: Geography Earth and Environmental Sciences, 3, 11-12.

Public understanding of science articles

  • Williams, V., M. A. Purnell, and Gabbott, S.E. 2006. Dental microwear in dinosaurs: a comparative analysis of polysiloxane replication. Dental Practice, 44:22-23.
  • Gabbott, S.E. and J. Zalasiewicz. 1999. The Quick and the Dead. New Scientist, 2189: 44-48.


Media coverage of my research

I strive to get my research 'out there' as I am very keen to engender a sense of curiosity about our world and in particular enthuse and inform children and young adults. To do this, I write press releases, and undertake interviews with journalists (Newspapers, magazines, bloggers and TV and radio).

Some recent examples:

  • The paper on 'Nidelric Pugio published in Scientific Reports' (birds-nest-like fossil from Chengjiang) featured in Local and National Newspapers, and I recorded a feature on the BBC's CBBC Newsround (2014).
  • The 'Atlas of Decay' paper published in 'Palaeontology' received wide publicity including an editorial in Smithsonian magazine, Lab News and many online science sites (Wired, Science Now, Live Science and NERC Planet Earth Magazine) (2013).
  • The paper on chordate decay published in 'Nature' appeared on the BBC website and in several National and International newspapers (2010).
  • The paper on windiness in the Ordovician, published in 'Geology' was featured as an article in The Guardian National Newspaper and appeared in several online Science webpages (2010).
  • I was invited by 'The Conversation' to write an editorial on the Jehol exceptional preservation (2014).

Broadcasting experience

I have been an expert presenter on two Channel 4 TV programmes:

  • Filming The Big Monster Dig
    Filming The Big Monster Dig
    I was one of three experts playing a leading role on the TV show for children and young people 'Dinosaur Detectives' which followed a format similar to 'The Time Team' (audience  2.2 million). It has been repeated since on Channel 4, Sky and other networks across the world. (2002)
  • Owing to the success of 'Dinosaur Detectives' Channel 4 commissioned a 7 part series 'The Big Monster Dig' using the same format covering a wide-range of palaeontological stories from dinosaur eggs in the Pyrenees to giant fish in Peterborough. Typical audiences were 1.4 million in the UK and this programme was broadcast worldwide (e.g. USA, Australia, India). This series was the first of its kind in palaeontology and it has done much to raise awareness of geology and palaeontology and the importance of this science to understanding the world around us (2003-2007).
On location filming at Leicester Fish Market
On location filming at Leicester Fish Market

You can see the episodes on 4 on demand (they made us wear the hats!)

This TV work led to publicity across a wide spectrum of National Newspapers and magazines including a The TV and Radio Times, The Times Higher Education Supplement, the Guardian, the Mail, the Express and even Grazia.

In 2014, I appeared on CBBC Newsround talking about a new Chengjiang fossil named after Richard Aldridge.

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