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Birdwatching through Geological Time: A Palaeontological Perspective on Avian Evolution – Dr Daniel Field
30 November | 18:00 - 19:30
How, when, and why has modern avian biodiversity arisen? Examining the Late Cretaceous fossil record sheds new light on the origin of characteristic avian features, and the early stages of the living bird radiation.
Speaker spotlightWhich organization and faculty are you currently attached to?
I am a University Lecturer in the Department of Earth Sciences, a fellow of Christ’s College, and the incoming Strickland Curator of Ornithology at the University Museum of Zoology
What is your specialization?
My expertise focuses on the evolutionary origins of birds from non-avian dinosaurs, and their subsequent diversification that gave rise to living bird diversity.
A short summary of your current research topic
I am interested in the earliest evidence of ‘modern’ birds in the fossil record, and how these fossils can help us understand how, where, and when modern birds originated, as well as what these fossils can tell us about how the biosphere persisted through the end-Cretaceous mass extinction.
What made you decide to pursue research?
I have been fascinated with wildlife since I was a young child, and gradually became curious about the evolutionary origins of present-day biodiversity. Birds and dinosaurs have always been a passion of mine, and the opportunity to link those interests by studying evolutionary biology and palaeontology made a career in research inevitable.
What would be your advice to aspiring researchers?
I think that learning to think creatively in order to identify and pursue key outstanding scientific questions is the most important thing an aspiring researcher can do. What are the fundamental but untested assumptions underpinning your area of research? Are there different ways that those assumptions can be tested? And if those assumptions fail to be substantiated, what are the implications for the field?