Tag: Mark A. Bell

Mark’s research is primarily focused on the relationship between trends in the fossil record and phylogenetic or environmental variables. He first gained an interest in palaeontology while studying for a bachelor’s degree with honours in Earth sciences at the University of Glasgow, UK. He then went on to complete a PhD on trends in body size in trilobites, jointly based at the University of Bristol, UK, and the Natural History Museum in London. Currently, he is based at University College London, where he is examining latitudinal diversity gradients in Cretaceous vertebrates.

Contact Details:

Dr Mark A. Bell, Department of Earth Sciences, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom.

Patterns In Palaeontology: Trends of body-size evolution in the fossil record – a growing field

Patterns in Palaeontology
by Mark A. Bell*1 Introduction: The body size of an animal is often considered the most important part of its biology. Large body size brings many advantages, which can include better ability to capture prey, success in evading predators, intelligence, longevity and reproductive success; it also makes a greater range of resources available. A larger animal has a lower surface area to volume ratio than a smaller animal, which results in less heat loss to the surroundings, allowing it to remain warmer for longer in a cold environment. However, one major disadvantage is that larger organisms are, in general, more specialized, and can require more food for example. This can put species at higher risk of extinction caused by rapid environmental change. Since the work of nineteenth-century ...

Fossil Focus: Trilobites

Fossil Focus
by Mark Bell*1 Introduction: Trilobites make up one of the most fascinating and diverse groups in the fossil record. Over the course of their long history — which dates back to near the beginning of the Cambrian period, around 520 million years ago — they have inhabited a wide range of marine environments, from reefs to abyssal depths. In addition, trilobites have evolved several different life strategies, from burrowing to swimming; these are reflected in their varied appearances, or morphologies (Fig. 1). Several species, famously those from the Devonian period of Morocco (about 420 million to 360 million years ago), developed a rich array of protective spines, which has made them a popular choice among fossil collectors and dealers.   The earliest scientific report of a...