People

Professor Mark Purnell

Professor of Palaeobiology; Dean for Research Excellence

School/Department: Geography, Geology & The Environment, School of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 3645

Email: map2@leicester.ac.uk

Profile

I joined the University in 1992 undertaking a series of NERC funded Independent Research Fellowships and Advanced Research Fellowships before becoming a Reader and then Professor of Palaeobiology. My research focusses on experimental and analytical taphonomy (particularly analysis of soft-tissue character decay and preservation) dental microwear analysis of diet and feeding (including aquatic vertebrates mammals and dinosaurs) and palaeobiology of conodonts and other early vertebrates. I have taught a range of palaeontological modules.

Research

My research interests range across functional morphology palaeobiology palaeoecology and taphonomy including:

  • Experimental analysis of soft-tissue character decay and preservation
  • Developing tooth microwear analysis of feeding in aquatic vertebrates dinosaurs pterosaurs and mammals
  • Palaeobiology of conodonts and other early vertebrates

Some of my current and previous work includes:

  • Deuterostome decay - taphonomic testing of fossil anatomy and phylogenetic placement (NERC with Sarah Gabbott; RA Duncan Murdock)
  • Experimental decay of onychophorans - lobopodian anatomy and arthropod origins (NERC with Sarah Gabbott; RA Duncan Murdock)
  • The problem of vertebrate origins - comparative taphonomy of non-biomineralised chordates and the meaning of gaps in the fossil record (NERC with Sarah Gabbott; RA Rob Sansom)
  • Using tooth wear to impose ecological constraints on isotopic and biostratigraphic analyses based on conodonts (NERC; RA David Jones)
  • Bridging the gap between ecological and evolutionary timescales: tooth wear niche differentiation and speciation in living and fossil fishes (NERC with Paul Hart, Biology)

Publications

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Selected Publications (scroll down for full list):

Gabbott S. E. Purnell M. A. & Sansom R. S. 2021: Systematic analysis of exceptionally preserved fossils: correlated patterns of decay and preservation. Palaeontology 64, 789-803.

Bestwick J Unwin D.M. Butler R.J. Purnell M.A. 2020 Dietary diversity and evolution of the earliest flying vertebrates. Nature Communications 11 5293.

Purnell M. A. Donoghue P. J. C. Gabbott S. E. McNamara M. E. Murdock D. J. E. Sansom R. S. & Smith A. 2018: Experimental analysis of soft-tissue fossilization: opening the black box. Palaeontology 61 317-323.

Clements T. Dolocan A. Martin P. Purnell M. A. Vinther J. & Gabbott S. E. 2016: Eyes of Tullimonstrum gregarium (Mazon Creek Carboniferous) reveal a vertebrate affinity. Nature 532 500-503.

Murdock D. Gabbott S. E. Mayer G. & Purnell M. A. 2014: Decay of velvet worms (Onychophora) and bias in the fossil record of lobopodians. BMC Evolutionary Biology 14 222.

Gill P. G. Purnell M. A. Crumpton N. Robson Brown K. Gostling N. J. Stamponi M. & Rayfield E. J. 2014: Dietary specializations and diversity in feeding ecology of the earliest stem mammals. Nature 512 303-305.

Purnell M. A. Seehausen O. & Galis F. 2012: Quantitative 3D microtextural analysis of tooth wear as a tool for dietary discrimination in fishes. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 9 2225-2233.

Sansom R. S. Gabbott S. E. & Purnell* M. A. 2010 Non-random decay of chordate characters causes bias in fossil interpretation. Nature 463 797-800.

Williams V. S. Barrett P. M. Purnell M. A. 2009 Quantitative analysis of dental microwear in hadrosaurid dinosaurs (Ornithischia: Ornithopoda) and its implications for hypotheses of jaw mechanics and diet. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106 11194-11199.

Donoghue P. C. J. & Purnell M. A. 2009 Distinguishing heat from light in debate over controversial fossils. Bioessays 31 178-189.

Purnell M. A. Bell M. A. Baines D. C. Hart P. J. B. & Travis M. P. 2007: Correlated evolution and dietary change in fossil stickleback. Science 317 1887.

Donoghue P. C. J. & Purnell M. A. 2005: Genome duplication extinction and vertebrate evolution. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 20 312-319.

Purnell M. A. Donoghue P. C. J. & Aldridge R. J. 2000: Orientation and anatomical notation in conodonts. Journal of Paleontology 74 113-122.

Donoghue P. C. J. & Purnell M. A. 1999: Growth function and the conodont fossil record. Geology 27 251-254.

Donoghue P. C. J. & Purnell M. A. 1999: Mammal-like occlusion in conodonts. Paleobiology 25 58-74.

Purnell M. A. & Donoghue P. C. J. 1998: Skeletal architecture homologies and taphonomy of ozarkodinid conodonts. Palaeontology 41 57-102.

Purnell M. A. 1995: Microwear in conodont elements and macrophagy in the first vertebrates. Nature 374 798-800.

 

Publications list

  • Stockey, C., N. F. Adams, T. H. P. Harvey, P. C. J. Donoghue & M. A. Purnell 2022: Dietary inference from dental topographic analysis of feeding tools in diverse animals. Methods in Ecology and Evolution.
  • Gabbott, S. E., Purnell, M. A. & Sansom, R. S. 2021: Systematic analysis of exceptional preservation: correlated patterns of decay and preservation. Palaeontology 64, 789-803.
  • Zeng, W., M. A. Purnell, H. Jiang & M. Zhang 2021: Late Triassic (Norian) conodont apparatuses revealed by conodont clusters from Yunnan Province, Southwestern China. Journal of Earth Science, 32, 709-724.
  • Bestwick, J., D. M. Unwin, D. M. Henderson & M. A. Purnell 2021: Dental microwear texture analysis along reptile tooth rows: complex variation with non-dietary variables. Royal Society Open Science, 8.
  • McLennan, L. & M. A. Purnell. 2021 Microtextural analysis as a tool for dietary discrimination in elasmobranchs. Scientific Reports, 11, 2444.
  • Bestwick, J., A. S. Jones, M. A. Purnell & R. J. Butler 2021: Dietary constraints of phytosaurian reptiles revealed by dental microwear textural analysis. Palaeontology, 64, 119-136.
  • Adams, N. F., T. Gray & M. A. 2020: Purnell. Dietary signals in dental microwear of predatory small mammals appear unaffected by extremes in environmental abrasive load. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 558, 109929.
  • Bestwick J, Unwin D.M., Butler R.J., Purnell M.A. 2020 Dietary diversity and evolution of the earliest flying vertebrates. Nature Communications, 11, 5293.
  • Bestwick, J., Unwin, D. M. & Purnell, M. A. 2019: Dietary differences in archosaur and lepidosaur reptiles revealed by dental microwear texture analysis. Scientific Reports 9, 11691.
  • DeSantis, L., Fortelius, M., Grine, F. E., Janis, C., Kaiser, T. M., Merceron, G., Purnell, M. A., Schulz-Kornas, E., Saarinen, J., Teaford, M., Ungar, P. S. & ┼Żliobait─Ś, I. 2018: The phylogenetic signal in tooth wear: What does it mean? Ecology and Evolution
  • Purnell, M. A., Zhang, M., Jiang, H. & Lai, X. 2018: Reconstruction, composition and homology of conodont skeletons: a response to Agematsu et al. Palaeontology 61, 793-796.
  • Clements, T., Purnell, M. & Gabbott, S. 2018: The Mazon Creek Lagerstätte: a diverse Late Phanerozoic ecosystem entombed within siderite concretions. Journal of the Geological Society
  • Purnell, M. A., Zhang, M., Jiang, H. & Lai, X. 2018: Reconstruction, composition and homology of conodont skeletons – a response to Agematsu et al. Palaeontology
  • Bestwick, J., Unwin, D. M., Butler, R. J., Henderson, D. M. & Purnell, M. A. 2018: Pterosaur dietary hypotheses: a review of ideas and approaches. Biological Reviews, doi: 10.1111/brv.12431
  • Purnell, M. A., Donoghue, P. J. C., Gabbott, S. E., McNamara, M. E., Murdock, D. J. E., Sansom, R. S. 2018: Experimental analysis of soft-tissue fossilization: opening the black box. Palaeontology 61, 317-323.
  • Zhang, H., Wang, Y., Janis, C. M., Goodall, R. H. & Purnell, M. A. 2018: An examination of feeding ecology in Pleistocene proboscideans from southern China (Sinomastodon, Stegodon, Elephas), by means of Dental Microwear Texture Analysis. Quaternary International, 445, 60-70.
  • Purnell, M. A., Goodall, R. H., Thomson, S. & Matthews, C. J. D. 2017: Tooth microwear texture in odontocete whales: variation with tooth characteristics and implications for dietary analysis. Biosurfaces and Biotribology 3, 184-195.
  • Zhang, M., Jiang, H., Purnell, M. A. & Lai, X. 2017: Testing hypotheses of element loss and instability in the apparatus composition of complex conodonts: articulated skeletons of Hindeodus. Palaeontology 60, 595–608.
  • Hou, X.-G., Siveter, D. J., Siveter, D. J., Aldridge, R. J., Cong, P.-Y., Gabbott, S. E., Ma, X., Purnell, M. A. & Williams, M. 2017: The Cambrian fossils of Chengjiang, China. The flowering of early animal life (2nd edition). 328 pp.  Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Williams, M., Siveter, D. J., Siveter, D. J., Gabbott, S. E., Ma, X., Purnell, M. A. & Cong, P. 2016: The spectacular fossils of the ‘water margin’: the Cambrian biota of Chengjiang, Yunnan, China. Geology Today 32, 233–237.
  • Gabbott, S. E., Donoghue, P. C. J., Sansom, R. S., Vinther, J., Dolocan, A. & Purnell, M. A. 2016, Pigmented anatomy in Carboniferous cyclostomes and the evolution of the vertebrate eye. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: Biological Sciences
  • Clements, T., Dolocan, A., Martin, P., Purnell, M. A., Vinther, J. & Gabbott, S. E. 2016: Eyes of Tullimonstrum gregarium (Mazon Creek, Carboniferous) reveal a vertebrate affinity. Nature 532, 500-503.
  • Murdock, D. J., Gabbott, S. E. & Purnell, M. A. 2016: The impact of taphonomic data on phylogenetic resolution: Helenodora inopinata (Carboniferous, Mazon Creek Lagerstatte) and the onychophoran stem lineage. BMC Evolutionary Biology 16, 19
  • Purnell, M. A. & Darras, L. P. G. 2015: 3D tooth microwear texture analysis in fishes as a test of dietary hypotheses of durophagy. Surface Topography: Metrology and Properties 4, 014006.
  • Goodall, R. H., Darras, L. & Purnell, M. A. 2015: Accuracy and precision of silicon based impression media for quantitative areal texture analysis. Scientific Reports 5, 10800, 1-14.
  • Cong, P.-Y., Hou, X.-G., Aldridge, R. J., Purnell, M. A. & Li, Y.-Z. 2015: New data on the palaeobiology of the enigmatic yunnanozoans from the Chengjiang Biota, Lower Cambrian, China. Palaeontology 58, 45-70.
  • Gill, P. G., Purnell, M. A., Crumpton, N., Robson Brown, K., Gostling, N. J., Stamponi, M. & Rayfield, E. J. 2014: Dietary specializations and diversity in feeding ecology of the earliest stem mammals. Nature 512, 303-305.
  • Murdock, D., Gabbott, S. E., Mayer, G. & Purnell, M. A. 2014: Decay of velvet worms (Onychophora), and bias in the fossil record of lobopodians. BMC Evolutionary Biology 14, 222.
  • Martinez-Perez, C., Rayfield, E. J., Purnell, M. A. & Donoghue, P. C. J. 2014: Finite element, occlusal, microwear and microstructural analyses indicate that conodont microstructure is adapted to dental function. Palaeontology 57, 1059-1066.
  • Baines, D. C., Purnell, M. A. & Hart, P. J. 2014: Tooth microwear formation rate in Gasterosteus aculeatus. Journal of Fish Biology 84, 1582-9.
  • Purnell, M. A., Crumpton, N., Gill, P. G., Jones, G. & Rayfield, E. J. 2013: Within-guild dietary discrimination from 3-D textural analysis of tooth microwear in insectivorous mammals. Journal of Zoology  
  • Sansom, R. S., Gabbott, S. E. & Purnell, M. A. 2013: Unusual anal fin in a Devonian jawless vertebrate reveals complex origins of paired appendages. Biology Letters 9, 20130002-20130002.
  • Sansom, R. S., Gabbott, S. E. & Purnell, M. A. 2013: Atlas of vertebrate decay: a visual and taphonomic guide to fossil interpretation. Palaeontology 56, 457-474.
  • Atakul-Özdemir, A., Purnell, M. A. & Riley, N. J. 2012: Cladistic tests of monophyly and relationships of biostratigraphically significant conodonts using multielement skeletal data – Lochriea homopunctatus and the genus Lochriea. Palaeontology 55, 1279-1291.
  • Purnell, M. A. & Jones, D. O. 2012. Quantitative analysis of conodont tooth wear and damage as a test of ecological and functional hypotheses. Paleobiology 38, 605-626.
  • Purnell, M. A., Seehausen, O. & Galis, F. 2012: Quantitative 3D microtextural analysis of tooth wear as a tool for dietary discrimination in fishes. Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
  • Jones, D. O., Hartley, J., Frisch, G., Purnell, M. A. & Darras, L. 2012: Non-destructive, safe removal of conductive metal coatings from fossils: a new solution. Palaeontologia Electronica 15.2.4T.
  • Keating, J. N., Sansom, R. S. & Purnell, M. A. 2012: A new osteostracan fauna from the Devonian of the Welsh-Borderlands and observations on the taxonomy and growth of Osteostraci. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 32, 1002–1017.
  • Sansom, R. S., Gabbott, S. E. & Purnell, M. A. 2011: Decay of vertebrate characters in hagfish and lamprey (Cyclostomata) and the implications for the vertebrate fossil record. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 
  • Sansom, R. S., Gabbott, S. E. & Purnell, M. A. 2010: Non-random decay of chordate characters causes bias in fossil interpretation. Nature 463, 797-800.
  • Sansom, R. S., Freedman, K., Gabbott, S. E., Aldridge, R. J. and Purnell, M. A. 2010: Taphonomy and affinity of an enigmatic Silurian vertebrate, Jamoytius kerwoodi White. Palaeontology 53(6) (in press)
  • Jones, D. O., Purnell, M. A. & von Bitter, P. H. 2009: Morphological criteria for recognising homology in isolated skeletal elements: comparison of traditional and morphometric approaches in conodonts. Palaeontology 52, 1243–1256.
  • Williams, V. S., Barrett, P. M. & Purnell, M. A. 2009: Quantitative analysis of dental microwear in hadrosaurid dinosaurs, and the implications for hypotheses of jaw mechanics and feeding. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106, 11194–11199.
  • Donoghue, P. & Purnell, M. 2009: The Evolutionary Emergence of Vertebrates From Among Their Spineless Relatives. Evolution: Education and Outreach 2, 204-212 (Special Issue: Transitional Fossils).  
  • Donoghue, P. C. J. & Purnell, M. A. 2009: Distinguishing heat from light in debate over controversial fossils. Bioessays 31, 178-189.
  • Donoghue, P. C. J., Purnell, M. A., Aldridge, R. J. & Zhang, S. 2008: The interrelationships of complex conodonts (Vertebrata). Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 6, 119–153.
  • Purnell, M. A., Bell, M. A., Baines, D. C., Hart, P. J. B. & Travis, M. P. 2007: Correlated evolution and dietary change in fossil stickleback. Science 317, 1887.
  • von Bitter, P. H., Purnell, M. A., Tetrault, D. K. & Stott, C. A. 2007: Eramosa Lagerstätte - exceptionally preserved soft-bodied biotas with shallow-marine shelly and bioturbating organisms (Silurian, Ontario, Canada). Geology 35, 879-882.
  • Jones, D. O. & Purnell, M. A. 2007: A new semi-automatic morphometric protocol for conodonts and a preliminary taxonomic application. In MacLeod, N. (ed.): Automated object identification in systematics: theory, approaches, and applications, 239-259. CRC Press (for Systematics Association), London.
  • Purnell, M. A., Hart, P. J. B., Baines, D. C. & Bell, M. A. 2006: Quantitative analysis of dental microwear in threespine stickleback: a new approach to analysis of trophic ecology in aquatic vertebrates. Journal of Animal Ecology 75, 967-977.
  • Williams, V., Purnell, M. A. and Gabbott, S. E. 2006. Dental microwear in dinosaurs: a comparative analysis of polysiloxane replication. Dental Practice 44:22-23.
  • Donoghue, P. C. J. & Purnell, M. A. 2005: Genome duplication, extinction and vertebrate evolution. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 20, 312-319.
  • von Bitter, P. H. & Purnell, M. A. 2005: An experimental investigation of postdepositional taphonomic bias in conodonts. In Purnell, M. A. & Donoghue, P. C. J. (eds):  Conodont biology and phylogeny - interpreting the fossil record. Special Papers in Palaeontology 73, 39-56. Palaeontological Association.
  • Purnell, M. A. & Donoghue, P. C. J. 2005: Between death and data: biases in interpretation of the fossil record of conodonts. In Purnell, M. A. & Donoghue, P. C. J. (eds):  Conodont biology and phylogeny - interpreting the fossil record. Special Papers in Palaeontology 73, 7-25. Palaeontological Association.
  • Purnell, M. A. & Donoghue, P. C. J. (eds) 2005: Conodont biology and phylogeny - interpreting the fossil record. Special Papers in Palaeontology 73. 218 pp. The Palaeontological Association.
  • Purnell, M. A. & Cossey, P. J. 2004: Northumberland Trough. In Cossey, P. J., Adams, A. E., Purnell, M. A., Whiteley, M. J., Whyte, M. A. & Wright, V. P.:  British Lower Carboniferous Stratigraphy: Geological Conservation Review Volume 29, 107-166. JNCC, Peterborough.
  • Cossey, P. J., Gutteridge, P., Purnell, M. A., Adams, A. E. & Walkden, G. M. 2004: Derbyshire Platform, North Staffordshire Basin and Hathern Shelf. In Cossey, P. J., Adams, A. E., Purnell, M. A., Whiteley, M. J., Whyte, M. A. & Wright, V. P.:  British Lower Carboniferous Stratigraphy: Geological Conservation Review Volume 29, 303-364. JNCC, Peterborough.
  • Cossey, P. J., Adams, A. E., Purnell, M. A., Whiteley, M. J., Whyte, M. A. & Wright, V. P. 2004: British Lower Carboniferous Stratigraphy: Geological Conservation Review Volume 29. 617 pp.  JNCC, Peterborough.
  • Purnell, M. A. 2003: Casting, replication, and anaglyph stereo imaging of microscopic detail in fossils, with examples from conodonts and other jawless vertebrates. Palaeontologia Electronica 6(2): 11p.
  • Purnell, M. A., von Bitter, P. H. & Groessens, E. 2003: Taphrognathus carinatus (Higgins & Varker) (Conodonta, Vertebrata) from the Lower Carboniferous of Belgium, and international correlation using taphrognathids. Journal of Micropalaeontology 21, 97-104.
  • Purnell, M. A., Williams, M. & Akhurst, M. 2002: A rare conodont bedding plane assemblage from Dumfriesshire, Southern Uplands, Scotland. British Geological Survey, Internal Report IR/02/015R, 4pp.
  • Tolmacheva, T. Y. & Purnell, M. A. 2002: Apparatus composition, growth, and survivorship of the Lower Ordovician conodont Paracordylodus gracilis Lindström, 1955. Palaeontology 45, 209-228.
  • Purnell, M. A. 2002: Feeding in extinct jawless heterostracan fishes and testing scenarios of early vertebrate evolution. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B 269, 83-88.
  • Purnell, M. A. 2001b: Scenarios, selection, and the ecology of early vertebrates. In Ahlberg, P. E. (ed.): Major events in early vertebrate evolution: palaeontology, phylogeny, genetics and development, 188-208. Taylor & Francis, London.
  • Purnell, M. A. 2001a: Feeding in conodonts and other early vertebrates. In Briggs, D. E. G. & Crowther, P. R. (ed.): Palaeobiology II, 401-404. Blackwell Science, Oxford.
  • Purnell, M. A. 2000: Fossil evidence of feeding and dietary preferences. In Singer, R. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Paleontology, Fitzroy Dearborn, Chicago.
  • Baesemann, J & Purnell, M. A. 2000: Ubinates, a new name for the genus Aethotaxis Baesemann 1973 (Vertebrata, Conodonta) preoccupied by Aethotaxis Dewitt, 1962 (Vertebrata, Osteichtyes). Journal of Paleontology 74, 554.
  • Purnell, M. A., Donoghue, P. C. J., & Aldridge, R. J. 2000: Orientation and anatomical notation in conodonts. Journal of Paleontology 74, 113-122.
  • Donoghue, P. C. J., & Purnell, M. A. 1999: Growth, function, and the conodont fossil record. Geology 27, 251-254.
  • Donoghue, P. C. J., & Purnell, M. A. 1999: Mammal-like occlusion in conodonts. Paleobiology 25, 58-74.
  • Purnell, M. A. 1999: Conodonts: functional analysis of disarticulated skeletal structures lacking extant homologues. In Savazzi, E. (ed.) Functional Morphology of the Invertebrate Skeleton, 129-146, Wiley and Sons.
  • Purnell, M. A., & Donoghue, P. C. J. 1999: Flattened fossils, physical modelling, and the restoration of collapsed skeletons. In Savazzi, E. (ed.) Functional Morphology of the Invertebrate Skeleton, 91-99, Wiley and Sons.
  • Donoghue, P. C. J., Purnell, M. A., & Aldridge, R. J. 1998: Conodont anatomy, chordate phylogeny, and vertebrate classification. Lethaia 31, 211-219.
  • Purnell, M. A., & Donoghue, P. C. J. 1998: Skeletal architecture, homologies and taphonomy of ozarkodinid conodonts. Palaeontology 41, 57-102.
  • Purnell, M. A., & Donoghue, P. C. J. 1997: Architecture and functional morphology of the skeletal apparatus of ozarkodinid conodonts. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B, 352, 1545-1564.
  • Purnell, M. A. 1997: Was your ancestor a little killer? Rockwatch, Summer 1997, 10-11.
  • Aldridge, R. J., & Purnell, M. A. 1996: The conodont controversies. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 11, 463-468.
  • Purnell, M. A. 1996: Origins and Innovations: the first 200 million years of vertebrate evolution -Introduction. Transactions of the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society 90, 35-37.
  • Purnell, M. A. 1995: Large eyes and vision in conodonts. Lethaia 28, 187-188.
  • Purnell, M. A. & Armstrong, H. A. 1995: Chapter 5: The Lower Carboniferous of Bewcastle and Gilsland. In Scrutton, C. T. (ed.): Northumbria Rocks and Landscape, 62-70. Yorkshire Geological Society and Ellenbank Press.
  • Purnell, M. A., Aldridge, R. J., Donoghue, P. C. J. & Gabbott, S. E. 1995: Conodonts and the first vertebrates. Endeavour 19, 20-27.
  • Purnell, M. A. 1995: Microwear in conodont elements and macrophagy in the first vertebrates. Nature 374, 798-800.
  • Aldridge, R. J., Purnell, M. A., Gabbott, S. E. & Theron, J. N. 1995: The apparatus architecture and function of Promissum pulchrum Kovács-Endrödy (Conodonta, Upper Ordovician), and the prioniodontid plan. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B 347, 275-291.
  • Purnell, M. A. 1994: Skeletal ontogeny and feeding mechanisms in conodonts. Lethaia 27, 129-138.
  • Armstrong, H. A. & Purnell, M. A. 1993: Thermal maturation of the Lower Carboniferous strata of the Northumberland Trough and Tweed Basin from conodont colour alteration index (CAI) data. Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society 49, 335-343.
  • Purnell, M. A. 1993: The Kladognathus apparatus (Conodonta, Carboniferous): homologies with ozarkodinids and the prioniodinid Bauplan. Journal of Paleontology 67, 875-882.
  • Purnell, M. A. 1993: Feeding mechanisms in conodonts and the function of the earliest vertebrate hard tissues. Geology 21, 375-377.
  • Purnell, M. A. & von Bitter, P. H. 1992: Vogelgnathus Norby and Rexroad (Conodonta): new species from the Lower Carboniferous of Atlantic Canada and Northern England. Journal of Paleontology 66, 311-332.
  • Purnell, M. A. 1992: Conodonts of the Lower Border Group and equivalent strata (Lower Carboniferous) in northern Cumbria and the Scottish Borders. Royal Ontario Museum, Life Sciences Contributions 156, 1-79.
  • Purnell, M. A. & von Bitter, P. H. 1992: Blade-shaped conodont elements functioned as cutting teeth. Nature 359, 629-631.
  • Armstrong, H. A. & Purnell, M. A. 1987: Dinantian conodont biostratigraphy of the Northumberland trough. Journal of Micropalaeontology 6, 97-112.
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Supervision

I am always on the look-out for good students interested in research projects linked to my areas of research (see Research and Publications). If you have a project in mind drop me an email. I have supervised projects on:

  • palaeobiology, palaeoecology and taphonomy of conodonts
  • tooth microwear/texture analysis and dental function in various clades
  • taphonomy and exceptional preservation
  • ornithiscian dinosaurs dental microwear
  • pterosaur dietary analysis
  • hydrodynamics and locomotion of armoured jawless fishes
  • plesiosaur systematics and palaeobiology

Teaching

GL3111 Diversity and Evolution of Vertebrates (module co-ordinator)

Press and media

  • Palaeontology and the fossil record
  • Functional morphology of teeth and feeding
  • Dietary analysis of fossil vertebrates
  • Taphonomy and exceptional preservation

Activities

  • Chair of the Editorial Board Palaeontology and Papers in Palaeontology (2021)
  • Editorial Board Member Palaeontology and Papers in Palaeontology (2016-2021)
  • Editorial Board Scientific Report
  • Council of the Palaeontological Association (>20 years service; roles including Vice-President, Chair of the Editorial Board,  Webmaster, Publicity Officer)

Conferences

Recent Invited keynote talks

  • 2018: International Palaeontological Congress V Paris - symposium on Experimental Approaches in Palaeontology
  • 2017: Annual Address Palaeontological Association
  • 2017: International Conodont Symposium Valencia Spain

Media coverage

Research with PhD student Jordan Bestwick on pterosaur diets was widely covered in the media. Research on experimental analysis of decay and preservation (linked to our publication in  Palaeontology - Purnell et al 2018) was covered on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
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