Tag: James M. Neenan

James’ recent research has mostly concerned the study of placodont crania by using CT scanning and 3D reconstruction in order to determine the palaeoecology and evolutionary relationships of these marine reptiles. James first became interested in palaeontology at a very young age, kindled by frequent fossil-hunting trips to the Arabian Desert. He then went on to study palaeobiology for his bachelor’s degree at University College London, followed by a master’s at the University of Bristol, UK, where he studied feeding in early tetrapods. He has recently completed his PhD at the University of Zurich, Switzerland.

Fossil Focus: Placodonts

Fossil Focus
by James M. Neenan1 Introduction: The placodonts were a group of marine reptiles that lived in shallow coastal waters, and mostly ate hard-shelled prey such as mussels and other bivalves (that is, they were durophagous). They lived during the Triassic period, and have so far been found in modern-day Europe, the Mediterranean and South China (Fig. 1). The Triassic was a very special time for marine-reptile evolution, with their greatest morphological diversity being known from this period. The beginning of the Triassic was characterized by the largest mass-extinction event that has ever occurred on Earth (the Permian–Triassic extinction), in which around 95% of all marine life went extinct. This marked the start of the Mesozoic era (the ‘age of dinosaurs’ that contains the Triassic, Juras