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Departments & Programs


In the Paleobiology Lab, we study the relationship between environmental change and biological evolution over geological timescales through field studies, geochemical measurements and modeling, and statistical analysis of large datasets.  We are particularly interested in the causes and consequences of major extinction events in the history of animal life.  Our research provides a variety of opportunities for students broadly interested in the history of life at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral levels. There are opportunities for students at any level to participate in all of the areas of research described here. You are also welcome to propose your own ideas for research projects. Please contact Jonathan Payne if you are interested in pursuing work in paleobiology.


Heim NA, Knope ML, Schaal EK, Wang SC, and Payne JL. 2014. Cope’s rule in the evolution of marine animals. Science 347:867-870. [Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF].

Knope ML, Heim NA, Frishkoff LO and Payne JL. 2015. Limited role of functional differentiation in early diversification of animals. Nature Communications 6:6455. [Open-Access URL]

Zhang Z, Augustin M, and Payne JL. in press. Phanerozoic trends in brachiopod body-size from synoptic data. Paleobiology.