Paleontology Research

Dave Elliott: Paleontology

Research activities

My main research interests are in the origin, evolution, and diversification of early vertebrates, particularly agnathans (jawless vertebrates). My work has been concentrated in the Late Silurian through Devonian and I have documented faunas around the Old Red Sandstone Continent from eastern Europe and Spitzbergen, across the Canadian arctic, through western North America, and down to Mexico. Research projects are continuing in all those areas as I develop biostratigraphic correlations and study evolutionary relationships. In addition my position as the de facto invertebrate paleontologist in the department has led me into projects on trace fossils in the Cambrian and Permian and a long term study of the invertebrate faunas of the Pennsylvanian in Arizona. 

David D. Gillette: Paleontology

Research activities

My research involves paleontology from grave to cradle: excavations, laboratory preparation and conservation, and technical studies on Mesozoic and Cenozoic vertebrates.  My research team has focused most recently on Cretaceous biodiversity of southern Utah, in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.  The fossil record there spans nearly 30 million years of the Late Cretaceous, from shoreline to shallow marine and back to shoreline and fully terrestrial depositional settings. We have discovered a variety of marine vertebrates in the Tropic Shale, including plesiosaurs, turtles, fish, sharks, and a strange new dinosaur that belongs in the therizinosaur clade.  We also have discovered the rear half of a hadrosaur skeleton in the Kaiparowits Formation, with ossified tendons and detailed impressions of the skin.  In addition, I have on-going research projects on the supergiant sauropod dinosaur, Seismosaurus; the oldest known sauropod dinosaur, Barapasaurus, from the Early Jurassic of India; and several projects on Pleistocene vertebrates including mammoths and glyptodonts.  My international experience has included projects in Mexico, Argentina, India, and Egypt.