Experts meet to delve into the world of the early tetrapod

Paleontologist Dr Marcello Ruta is to give a talk at the latest meeting of a research project group which studies the early evolution and diversification of tetrapods.

The Tetrapod World: early evolution and diversification (TW:eed) Project is a scientific research project studying fossils and environments from the Early Carboniferous Tournaisian Stage, roughly 350 million years ago.

Teams of experts are collaborating to study some spectacular newly-discovered fossils which will fill in a significant gap (Romer’s Gap) in our understanding of how tetrapods moved from water onto land, the other animals and plants that existed at that time, and the environment in which these changes took place.

Dr Ruta, from the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences, is a partner in the project. His scientific interests include the emergence and radiation of major animal groups, particularly early tetrapods, various aspects of morphological diversification, and patterns from the fossil record as a key to understanding crucial episodes in the history of life.

The TW:eed Project is studying not just the tetrapods, but also the fish, plants and invertebrates, the environments in which the organisms lived and the way they evolved from the survivors of the extinction event to the relatively modern-looking animals that we see later in the Carboniferous.

Dr Ruta will present Cladistic analysis of four Tournaisian tetrapods at the next TW:eed meeting at the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, on 7th and 8th May, 2015.

Image: Acanthostega – one of the earliest and most primitive tetrapods. Credit University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge.