David Ford

David Ford


I have been fascinated by the history and science of palaeontology and evolution for several decades, and I finally decided to apply myself to full-time study in 2010. I completed my M.Sci in Palaeobiology at UCL in 2014, and joined the DTP at Oxford later that year.

Although focusing on sauropodomorph phylogeny for my masters, I have chosen to base my D.Phil research on the evolution of the diapsid reptiles, from their origins in the late Carboniferous to what appears to be an adaptive radiation in the early Triassic. It is a complex and often controversial phylogenetic problem, which relatively few researchers have approached comprehensively, and studies hitherto have focused principally on clades within the group.

My research will establish a new and revised list of morphological characters to be applied to a carefully selected list of over 75 taxa; from the ‘lizard-like’ amniotes of the Middle Pennsylvanian and the earliest known diapsid, Petrolacosaurus, to the earliest archosauromorphs and lepidosauromorphs of the late Permian and early Triassic. I will also include basal synapsids, captorhinids and parareptiles. I am particularly interested in the abrupt appearance of the secondarily aquatic clades of the early Triassic, and will include several basal Sauropterygia, Ichthyosauriformes and thalattosaurs in my phylogeny.

I will augment my phylogenetic research with detailed anatomical reviews of key taxa using micro CT data. I am currently working on material from Paleothyris arcadiana from the Middle Pennsylvanian of Nova Scotia and later this year on Paliguana whitei from the early Triassic of South Africa.