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Last updated: 8 February 2022
There are still many mysteries surrounding the origin and early radiation of mammals. They appeared at the same time as the first dinosaurs, yet remained relatively small until the dinosaur extinction 65 million years ago. Despite their size, they were clearly very successful to have survived and flourish on earth today. This project looked at what made these early mammals so successful, and the role they played in an ecosystem dominated by dinosaurs.
Elsa examined previously overlooked fossils from the Isle of Skye which are among the best-preserved Middle Jurassic mammals outside China. Using micro CT-scanning, Elsa reconstructed the fossils digitally in 3D and used them to study the anatomy of these creatures, helping to tell us how they lived, what they ate, and where they fit into the ecosystem of Jurassic Scotland.
Origin and Evolution of Mammals: study of an exceptionally preserved skeleton from the Middle Jurassic of Skye, Scotland
Dr Elsa Panciroli
2015 - 2019
NERC E3 (Edinburgh Earth and Environment) Doctoral Training Partnership
Dr Stephen Brusatte - School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, and Prof. Zhe-Xi Luo - Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, University of Chicago
National Museums Scotland Supervisors
Dr Stig Walsh and Dr Nick Fraser - Department of Natural Sciences
Elsa has gone on to become a Research Associate at National Museums Scotland, and a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Researcher at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Find her on Twitter @gsciencelady.
Read about Elsa's work with fossil mammals.Find out more