Dr Robert Sansom

Rob Sansom in Norway

Postdoctoral Research Associate (NERC)

Palaeobiology Group

Direct contact:

Tel: 0116 252 3629 Email:rss24@le.ac.uk

Research interests:

Assessing the nature and validity of the fossil record of early vertebrates, and thus, vertebrate origins, from palaeontological and experimental taphonomy perspectives. Emphasis is upon the soft-bodied "vertebrate" faunas of Chengjiang, Burgess Shale, Soom Shale, Lesmahagow, Mazon Creek, and potential extant proxies such as amphioxus, hagfish, lampreys and chondrichthyans. Details here.

More broadly, my research interests include unraveling the sequence of character acquisition and evolution in the stem-chordate, stem-vertebrate, and stem-gnathostome lineages, from phylogenetic, taxonomic, palaeobiogeographic, palaeoecological and biological perspectives.


I am now based at the University of Bath.



  • Sansom, R. S., Freedman, K., Gabbott, S. G., Aldridge, R. A. and Purnell, M. A. 2010. Taphonomy and affinity of an enigmatic Silurian vertebrate Jamoytius kerwoodi White. Palaeontology, 53, 1393-1409.
  • Sansom, R. S., Gabbott, S. & Purnell, M. A. 2010. Decay of vertebrate characters in hagfish and lamprey (Cyclostomata) and the implications for the vertebrate fossil record. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2010.164.
  • Sansom, R. S., Gabbott, S. & Purnell, M. A. 2010. Non-random decay of chordate characters causes bias in fossil interpretation. Nature, 463, 797-800.
  • Hou, X-G., Williams, M., Siveter, D. J., Siveter, D. J., Aldridge, R. J. and Sansom, R. S. 2010. Soft-part anatomy of the Early Cambrian bivalved arthropods Kunyangella and Kunmingella: significance for the phylogenetic relationships of Bradoriida. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 277. 1835-1841. 
  • Sansom, R. S. 2009. Endemicity and palaeobiogeography of the Osteostraci and Galeaspida: A test of scenarios of gnathostome evolution. Palaeontology, 52, 1257-1273.
  • Sansom, R. S. 2009. Phylogeny, classification and character polarity of the Osteostraci (Vertebrata). Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, 7, 95-115.
  • Sansom, R. S., Rodygin, S. A. & Donoghue, P. C. J. 2008. The anatomy, affinity and phylogenetic significance of Ilemoraspis kirkinskayae (Osteostraci) from the Devonian of Siberia. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 28, 613-625.
  • Sansom, R. S. 2008.  The origin and early evolution of the Osteostraci: a phylogeny for the Thyestiida. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, 6, 317-332.
  • Sansom, R. 2007. A review of the problematic osteostracan genus Auchenaspis and its role in thyestidian evolution. Palaeontology, 50, 1001-1011.

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