UCL Earth Sciences



The study of past life in the Department of Earth Sciences ranges from the smallest and most abundant fossils (such as microscopic plankton and forams) to the largest animals ever to walk on land, the gigantic sauropod dinosaurs, and includes the search for Earth’s oldest organisms and the origins of animals.

Our research encompasses the responses of past life to environmental changes that are analogous to the current climate crisis, which is critical for understanding the long-term effects on living species. We also study the drivers of past extinctions, as well as the recovery of ecosystems from devastating mass extinctions. We combine ‘traditional’ approaches, such as the description of the anatomy and morphology of fossil species, with large, high-quality datasets to quantify speciation and extinction in the fossil record, applying cutting-edge methods for reconstructing ancient climates, past biodiversity patterns, and evolutionary relationships of extinct species. Our research sits at the interface of a diverse range of disciplines, including anatomy, biogeography, biology, ecology, geochemistry, geology, oceanography, and palaeontology.



The science of Micropalaeontology studies the microscopic remains of animals, plants and protists. Our research concentrates on marine micropalaeontology, mainly calcareous nannoplankton and foraminifera.

Lingwulong shenqi (Zhang Zongda)

Vertebrate Palaeontology

Vertebrate Palaeontology in the department consists of research into the evolutionary history of several diverse groups during the last 250 million years. This includes dinosaurs, crocodiles, pterosaurs, and mammals.


Prof. Paul Bown p.bown@ucl.ac.uk
Prof. Bridget Wade b.wade@ucl.ac.uk

Vertebrate Palaeontology:
Dr Philip Mannion: p.mannion@ucl.ac.uk
Prof Paul Upchurch: p.upchurch@ucl.ac.uk