I am a palaeontologist based at Manchester University. Much of my work employs X-ray techniques to better understand early terrestrial animals and ecosystems. I currently hold an 1851 Research Fellowship investigating the origin and early evolution of insects. The links above will take you to further details about me, my research, journalism and photography, and my contact details. News can be found below.
A new paper has just appeared, in which I - with my colleague Jason Dunlop from the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin - use fossils from the Devonian Rhynie Chert to work out the range of motion in an extinct arahcnid's limbs. We then use the open source software Blender to create a reconstruction of the animal's gait using its centre of mass and limb articulations. The supplementary information includes an introductory guide on how to use the software. This by no means comprehensive, and indeed, the study doesn't make use of all Blender's impressive capabilities, but hopefully it will lessen the application's learning curve. Details of the paper are below:
The paper has picked up some interesting press coverage, including: the BBC news website, New Scientist, io9, Motherboard, IFLScience, Discovery News, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, and Entomology Today. I've embedded the video from the paper below, please do check it out!
Televised coverage includes ITN, and I did a live interview for BBC World News at their London Studio. In other news, Palaeontology [online] has just turned three, and we celebrate with a new article looking back over the previous three years. Link below:
That's it for now, but more soon.
There's been a slight break since my last update thanks to synchrotron beamtime and trips to Sardinia then the Faroes. In that time, a new paper has appeared from my colleague Jason Dunlop and myself, in which we use microtomography to highlight the palaeobiology of a Carboniferous arachnid Eophrynus prestvicii, and sort out the systematics of the group to which it belongs. Click on the image below to check out a copy - it's open access:
Dunlop, J.A. & Garwood, R.J. 2014. Tomographic reconstruction and palaeobiology of the trigonotarbid arachnid Eophrynus prestvicii (Buckland, 1837). Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 59(2): 443–454. doi:10.4202/app.2012.0032 [View]
The following opinion piece also appeared in Nature today, outlining the two body problem, as it applies to academics, its origins and consequences, and what universities can do to mitigate its effects:
Any feedback or discussion on either of these publications is, naturally, very welcome. There have also been two new Palaeontology [online] articles since I last updated, on arthropod-plant interactions, and a group called the placodonts. Please do check them out:
Two more papers should appear in the next couple of months, so I'll update the website when those appear. In the meantime, in early July I'll be helping out with Manchester's stand at the Royal Society Summer of Science exhibiton. More details of the stand below. Please do come and say hello if you're attending.
A new paper has just appeared, in which my coauthors and I: describe a new harvestman species and suborder; conduct some molecular dating; and identify a vestigial signal in the embryological gene expression of an extant species for structures visible in the fossil. It seems to have sparked an interest, and press coverage so far includes Wired, National Geographic, Discovery, and Huffington Post. A clearer picture of the impact through the article's entry on altmetric. The paper is open access, and available at the following location:
Garwood, R.J.*, Sharma, P.*, Dunlop, J.A. & Giribet, G. In press. A Paleozoic Stem Group to Mite Harvestmen Revealed through Integration of Phylogenetics and Development. Current Biology (* = equal contributors).
Here is a closeup of the fossil itself:
The following paper has also just been accepted:
Jones, F.*, Dunlop, J.A., Friedman, M., & Garwood, R.J*. Accepted. A cladistic analysis of the trigonotarbid arachnids. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society (* = corresponding author)
Since my last post there have been two new Palaeontology [online] articles, one on things called latitudinal biodiversity gradient, and one on dinosaur reproduction. Links below:
Finally, since I've just returned from a trip to work with colleagues in Uppsala, I thought I would post an image of one of the smally shelly fossils (the hard parts of some of the earliest animals) we were working on whilst I was there:
So that's it for now - more coming soon!
Hello from Berlin. I'm currently on an EU synthesys visit to work with colleagues at the Museum Fur Naturkunde. Whilst here, the following article has appeared:
Garwood, R.J. 2014. Life as a palaeontologist: Palaeontology for dummies, Part 2. Palaeontology Online 4(2):1-10. [View]
Following on from Part One which is linked below, Palaeontology for Dummies - Part Two is a brief introduction to the history of palaeontology, and how we got to where we are now. I hope it is interesting, please do check it out. The four papers mentioned below, plus a couple more, are now complete and approaching submission: I will post updates as they appear in the near future.
Happy new year! At the beginning of December the following publication went live:
Garwood, R.J. 2013. Life as a palaeontologist: Palaeontology for dummies, Part 1. Palaeontology Online 3(12):1-11. [View]
This provides an introduction to palaeontology highlighting what it is, what it is not, and also providing an overview of the field as it currently stands. I hope it proves interesting! Keep an eye open for part two - which outlines the history of palaeontology - in the near future. The Paleonturología 12 Prize Winner's Book is now also freely available, details below. Please do check it out. Furthermore an updated ebook with glossary, and hardback version of Techniques for Virtual Palaeontology is also now available:
Garwood, R.J., Dunlop, J.A., Giribet, G. & Sutton, M.D. 2013. Opiliones fósiles. Los arácnidos actuales de origen más remoto / Fossil harvestmen: The oldest surviving arachnids. ¡Fundamental! 23, 1–58 (Paleonturología 12 Prize Winner's Book). [view]
Sutton, M.D., Rahman, I. & Garwood, R.J. 2013. Techniques for Virtual Palaeontology. Wiley-Blackwell: 208pp.
Finally, we have another new palaeontology online for this month - this time about body size in fossils courtesy of Mark Bell. You can check it out at the link below:
I'm currently working on a four papers for submission in the first quarter of 2014, so more news will be forthcoming!
It's been another busy three months, hence the silence. In that time our Wiley entry to the Analytical Methods in Earth and Environmental Science series has finally appeared - currently it is available as an ebook, with hardback in January 2014. It can be purchased here:
The book associated with the Paleonturología 12 mentioned below is now in production and should appear in December. I've also given several talks over the last few weeks, which can be found in the section Publications. We have also posted three Palaeontology online articles in that time - two Fossil Focus pieces, one on encephalized bipedal apes, the other on Heterostraci, and an article on ancient DNA. Links below. Other than that, we have had a very successful beamtime at I12, Diamond Light Source, and been awarded beamtime at SLS, Switzerland. Several more papers are approaching completion, so watch this space!
It's been a while since I last wrote an update, largely because I've spent the last couple of months travelling and scanning. This has included a trip to Berlin to finish a trigonotarbid phylogeny, and build a new arachnid one with a colleague. The trip was a great success, and lots else has happened since the last update. The following paper has now been accepted, and I've included a preview of the model we've created and animated for the paper below:
Garwood, R.J. & Dunlop, J.A. Accepted. The walking dead: Blender as a tool for palaeontologists. Journal of Palaeontology.
The accessible account of our 2011 paper required for the Paleonturología 12 prize is also complete, including 18 figures. It will be used to print a small book in Spanish and English introducing terrestrialisation, CT scanning, and the fossil record of the harvestmen, which should be available from December:
Garwood, R.J., Dunlop, J.A., Giribet, G. & Sutton, M.D. Accepted. Fossil harvestmen. Paleonturología 12 (Prize Winner's Book).
The following paper has been submitted since last time:
Garwood, R. J., Sharma, P., Dunlop, J. A., & Giribet, G. Submitted. Early harvestman evolution: Perspectives from gene expression data and Palaeozoic fossils.
I'm also giving two talks in the near future, the ToScA presentation mentioned below, and a talk for TEDx Albertopolis Salon in early September. More details when I have them. You can also find me at this year's Science uncovered on the last Friday of September.
Finally, there are two new Palaeontology [online] posts - one on exceptional preservation of fossils in concretions by Victoria McCoy, and one on naming fossil species by Chloe Marquart. Please do check them out!
I've just returned from two weeks of fieldwork in northern Scotland, and the chrysalis paper, mentioned below, is now available to download here. It's open access. You can find coverage of the paper at the following links: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. I've also been invited to speak at the first annual Tomography for Scientific Advancement event, or ToScA, at the Natural History Museum, London, this August. More details.
I'm pleased to report that our book - Techniques for Virtual Palaeontology - is now in production, so should be out in the next few months. The chrysalis paper mentioned below has now been accepted and will appear in press next Tuesday - some images from the paper are shown below:
Lowe, T., Garwood, R.J., Simonsen, T., Bradley, R.S., & Withers, P.W. 2013. Metamorphosis revealed: three dimensional imaging inside a living chrysalis. Journal of the Royal Society Interface: In press.
Left is the internal anatomy of a chrysalis of a Painted Lady butterfly one day after pupation, middle is the same individual after thirteen days, and right is the adult immediately prior to hatching from the chrysalis. If you keep an eye on the news you may see it around. In other news, the following paper has now been submitted:
Garwood, R.J. & Dunlop, J.A. In review (invited submission). The walking dead: Blender as a tool for palaeontologists. Journal of Palaeontology.
Which includes a step-by-step guide to using the open source raytracer Blender, and an anatomically accurate reconstruction of the Devonian arachnid Palaeocharinus based on fossils from the Rhynie Chert. This includes the animal's limb articulations and a video showing its likely gait. The following three papers are approaching completion and should be submitted by the summer:
Garwood, R. J., Sharma, P., Dunlop, J. A., & Giribet, G. In prep. Early harvestman evolution: Perspectives from gene expression data and Palaeozoic fossils.
Haug, J. T., Haug, C., & Garwood, R. J.. In prep. Evolution if Insect Wings and Devlopment: New details from Palaeozoic Nymphs.
Jones, F., Dunlop, J.A., Friedman, M., & Garwood, R. J. In prep. A cladistic analysis of the trigonotarbid arachnids.
Finally, we have two more new Palaeontology [online] posts since my last update. April's focusses on fossil communities and palaeoecology, whilst the article for May introduces a major fossil group: the trilobites.
I'm away on fieldwork for the second half of May, but I'm sure there will be another update upon my return.
Since last time the book on 3D reconstruction in palaeontology mentioned previously has been submitted.
Sutton, M.D., Rahman, I., & Garwood, R.J. Submitted. Techniques for Virtual Palaeontology. Wiley-Blackwell fast-track monograph.
It ended up being near 80,000 words - slightly larger than expected, but hopefully a comprehensive and useful addition to the literature for virtual palaeontology. The paper below has also been resubmitted with corrections:
Lowe, T. Garwood, R.J., Simonsen, T., Bradley, R.S., & Withers, P.W. Submitted. Metamorphosis revealed: three dimensional imaging inside a living chrysalis.
New Palaeontology [online] articles have also been posted, one for March on tree-kangaroos, and one new this month on how palaeontologists can work out what's missing from the fossil record by studying groups of living animals. Both are linked below. More papers in the works, so hopefully another update soon.
I've not updated the website for a couple of months, largely because I've been very busy since December! Much of my time has been spent writing 18,000 words on X-ray techniques for a forthcoming Wiley-Blackwell fast-track monograph in Earth Science:
Sutton, M.D., Garwood, R.J. & Rahman, I. Invited submission. Techniques for Virtual Palaeontology. Wiley-Blackwell fast-track monograph.
My work for this is now complete, and the following paper has also just been submitted:
Lowe, T. Garwood, R.J., Simonsen, T., Bradley, R.S., & Withers, P.W. Submitted. Metamorphosis revealed: three dimensional imaging inside a living chrysalis.
Next up is an invited paper on Blender, and then two more papers which should be completed in the near future, on insect nymphs and opilionds respectively. Following this is a foray into arachnid phylogeny and lots more exciting research. I was also part of a recent synchrotron trip to experiment with 3D chemial mapping. Hopefully this will also surface soon (and an explanation of the technique will be in the above monograph!), but in the meantime here are a couple of photos:
Naturally, there have also been new Palaeontology [online] articles for January (on life as a palaeontologist post-doc and February (on shape analysis). Links below:
While I was away at the synchrotron recently, I'm honoured to report that my 2011 Nature Communications paper on fossil harvestman was announced as the winner of Paleonturología 12, an international palaeontology competition. The announcement, in Spanish, can be found here, and press coverage of the prize here.
As part of the prize I shall be preparing a less technical account of the reseach in the near future.
A new article has been posted on Palaeontology [online] about open access in science, and the impact of the internet on the field. Interested? Read on...
I'm pleased to report that the follwing paper has just appeared in the latest issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach:
Rahman, I., Adcock, K. & Garwood, R.J. 2012. Virtual Fossils: A New Resource for Science Communication in Palaeontology. Evolution: Education and Outreach 5(4):635-641
In further exciting news, from 2013 the journal will be open access, so the paper will be freely available online. Until that time, please do email me if you would like a copy.
If you're interested in doing an arthropod-based palaeontology PhD, I'm pleased to report that one is being offered at Oxford, supervised by myself and Dr Matt Friedman. The project is titled "A reassessment of the early terrestrial ecosystems: perspectives from arthropods", and is based around using quantitative techniques to reinvestigate terrestrial arthropod origins and evolution. More details can be found at this location, and details of how to apply and funding are here. If you know anyone who may be interested in applying, please do pass the details on, and if you are interested in applying for the PhD yourself please do feel free to email me and Matt for more information.
This month's Palaeontology [online] provides an introduction to the origins and early evolution of life. It's called Patterns In Palaeontology: The first 3 billion years of evolution, and was written by myself. Please do check it out!
Thanks if you voted in the competition mentioned below - I'm pleased to report that my opilionid image was highly commended!
The Manchester Science Fetival is hosting an images of research competition, and I am very pleased to report that one of my renders has made it through to the final. You can check out all the entries, and vote for your favourite, by clicking on the image below:
In further news I'm contributing next month's article for Palaeontology [online] - Patterns In Palaeontology: The first 3 billion years of evolution. It is set to appear on November 1st, however, as I'm getting married at the end of the month I won't be around then - so please do check it out when it appears!
Finally, there is a new issue of ZT out. Enslaved grace the cover, and I have provided an interview with Between The Buried and Me for the issue. Please do check it out.
I have just posted a new Palaeontology [online] article by Verity Bennett outlining the evolution or marsupials. It's fascinating stuff - please do check it out!
I'm also pleased to report that today I have officially started a fellowship split between The School of Materials and the School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, at The Unversity of Manchester, funded by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. I'll be spending the next three years looking at - amongst other things - the origin and early evolution of the insects.
The paper below appeared in PLoS one today:
Garwood, R.J., Ross, A., Sotty, D., Chabard, D., Charbonnier, S., Sutton, M. & Withers, P. 2012. Tomographic Reconstruction of Neopterous Carboniferous Insect Nymphs. PLoS one 7(9):e45779. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045779
The paper is based on our work using X-ray micro-tomography to create 3D models of two Palaeozoic juvenile insects. The detail the technqiue provided has allowed us to say something about their biology, and their mode of life. It was harder to work out which groups they may belong to - but we've tried! The paper is freely available from the website, so please do check it out. You can find more accessible information in this Nature news piece.
A new paper I was lucky enough to be involved in has appeared in press at PNAS. Details and link (to both paper and news coverage), in addition to picture of the beautiful fossil, are below.
Briggs, D.E.G., Siveter, D.J., Siveter, D.J., Sutton, M.D., Garwood, R.J. & Legg, D. 2012. A Silurian horseshoe crab illuminates the evolution of chelicerate limbs. PNAS: In press. (More information:1, 2).
I've also been busy giving talks - 5 new ones have been added to the publications page. In further news, a new Palaeontology [online] article as been posted, written by David Hone. It gives all the basics you may want to know about pterosaurs. Please do check it out! One of our editors, Peter Falkingham has also written a blog post about Palaeontology [online], which you can find here. I've also updated my current listening to reflect some cool recent discoveries. New ZT out soon - until then...
A new Palaeontology [online] article as been posted, written by Jonathan Antcliffe, providing an introduction to the Cambrian explosion. Cambrian explosion. Please do check it out!