Ross Anderson

Ross Anderson

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, All Souls College
Tel: +44 (0) 1865 281 404

Fossil evidence for the evolution of complex life

The emergence and diversification of complex life is the most fundamental biological transition in the history of the Earth. I use fossils to chart the evolution of eukaryotes (those organisms with a membrane-bound cell nucleus), multicellularity, cellular differentiation, and animals, through the Proterozoic Eon (2.5-0.5 billion years ago). Understanding how changing fossil diversity correlates to environmental changes—and the Proterozoic Eon sees some of the largest in Earth history—is vital to determining evolutionary drivers.

Not only do I seek new fossils that provide this important palaeobiological information, I critically interrogate the nature of the fossil record. Before the terminal Proterozoic advent of biomineralization, fossilization is confined to poorly understood and unusual circumstances that preserve organic remains. I use novel analytical techniques on fossiliferous strata to understand the conditions conducive to preservation. Such research is crucial to our ability to robustly interpret the temporal and ecological range of fossil organisms. It can also provide new insights into their original chemistry and biology.

Curriculum Vitae

Links:

A mineral blueprint for finding Burgess Shale-type fossils – Yale News
Scientists shed light on Burgess Shale preservation – Oxford News
Mongolian microfossils point to the rise of animals on Earth – Yale News
Tracking the history of early life on Earth – Yale GSAS News
Solving the mystery of the Tully Monster – Yale News
Alpine Europe Department Field Trip 2015 – Yale Geology and Geophysics
Extinct sea scorpion gets a Yale eye exam – Yale News
Great Britain Department Field Trip 2013 – Yale Geology and Geophysics

7.  Anderson, R.P., McMahon, S., Macdonald, F.A., Jones, D.S., Briggs, D.E.G., 2018. Palaeobiology of latest Ediacaran phosphorites from the upper Khesen Formation, Khuvsgul Group, northern Mongolia. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. (Link)

 

6.  Anderson, R.P., Tosca, N.J., Gaines, R.R., Mongiardino Koch, N., Briggs, D.E.G., 2018. A mineralogical signature for Burgess Shale-type fossilization. Geology 46 (4), 347–350. (Link)

 

5.  Anderson, R.P., Macdonald, F.A., Jones, D.S., McMahon, S., Briggs, D.E.G., 2017. Doushantuo-type microfossils from latest Ediacaran phosphorites of northern Mongolia. Geology 45 (12), 1079–1082. (Link)

 

4.  Anderson, R.P., McMahon, S., Bold, U., Macdonald, F.A., Briggs, D.E.G., 2017. Palaeobiology of the early Ediacaran Shuurgat Formation, Zavkhan Terrane, south-western Mongolia. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 15 (11), 947–968. (Link)

 

3.  McMahon, S., Anderson, R.P., Saupe, E.E., Briggs, D.E.G., 2016. Experimental evidence that clay inhibits bacterial decomposers: Implications for preservation of organic fossils. Geology 44 (10), 867–870. (Link)

 

2.  Anderson, R.P., Tarhan, L.G., Cummings, K.E., Planavsky, N.J., Bjørnerud, M., 2016. Macroscopic structures in the 1.1 Ga continental Copper Harbor Formation: Concretions or fossils? Palaios 31 (7), 327–338. (Link)

 

1.  Anderson, R.P., Fairchild, I.J., Tosca, N.J., Knoll, A.H., 2013. Microstructures in metasedimentary rocks from the Neoproterozoic Bonahaven Formation, Scotland: Microconcretions, impact spherules, or microfossils? Precambrian Research 233, 59–72. (Link)

14.  Anderson, R.P., Tosca, N.J., Kearns, S.L., Briggs, D.E.G., in review. The formation and taphonomic significance of minerals associated with Burgess Shale fossils.

 

13.  Fairchild, I.J., Spencer, A.M., Ali, D.O., Anderson, R.P., Anderton, R., Boomer, I., Dove, D., Evans, J. D., Hambrey, M.J., Howe, J., Sawaki Y., Wang, Z., Shields-Zhou, G., Shields-Zhou, Y., Skelton, A., Tucker, M.E., in press. Tonian–Cryogenian boundary sections of Argyll, Scotland. Precambrian Research. (Link)

 

12.  Anderson, R.P., McMahon, S., Macdonald, F.A., Jones, D.S., Briggs, D.E.G., 2018. Palaeobiology of latest Ediacaran phosphorites from the upper Khesen Formation, Khuvsgul Group, northern Mongolia. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. (Link)

 

11.  Anderson, R.P., Tosca, N.J., Gaines, R.R., Mongiardino Koch, N., Briggs, D.E.G., 2018. A mineralogical signature for Burgess Shale-type fossilization. Geology 46 (4), 347–350. (Link)

 

10.  Anderson, R.P., Macdonald, F.A., Jones, D.S., McMahon, S., Briggs, D.E.G., 2017. Doushantuo-type microfossils from latest Ediacaran phosphorites of northern Mongolia. Geology 45 (12), 1079–1082. (Link)

 

9.  Anderson, R.P., McMahon, S., Bold, U., Macdonald, F.A., Briggs, D.E.G., 2017. Palaeobiology of the early Ediacaran Shuurgat Formation, Zavkhan Terrane, south-western Mongolia. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 15 (11), 947–968. (Link)

 

8.  McMahon, S., Anderson, R.P., Saupe, E.E., Briggs, D.E.G., 2016. Experimental evidence that clay inhibits bacterial decomposers: Implications for preservation of organic fossils. Geology 44 (10), 867–870. (Link)

 

7.  Anderson, R.P., Tarhan, L.G., Cummings, K.E., Planavsky, N.J., Bjørnerud, M., 2016. Macroscopic structures in the 1.1 Ga continental Copper Harbor Formation: Concretions or fossils? Palaios 31 (7), 327–338. (Link)

 

6.  Darroch, S.A.F., Locatelli, E.R., McCoy, V.E., Clark, E.G., Anderson R.P., Tarhan, L.G., Hull, P., 2016. Taphonomic disparity in foraminifera as a paleo-indicator for seagrass. Palaios 31 (5), 242–258. (Link)

 

5.  McCoy, V.E., Saupe, E.E., Lamsdell, J.C., Tarhan, L.G., McMahon, S., Lidgard, S., Mayer, P., Whalen, C.D., Soriano, C., Finney, L., Vogt, S., Clark, E.G., Anderson, R.P., Petermann, H., Locatelli, E.R., Briggs, D.E.G., 2016. The ‘Tully Monster’ is a vertebrate. Nature 532, 496–499. (Link)

 

4.  McCoy, V.E., Lamsdell, J.C., Poschmann, M., Anderson, R.P., Briggs, D.E.G., 2015. All the better to see you with: Eyes and claws reveal the evolution of divergent ecological roles in giant pterygotid eurypterids. Biology Letters 11, 20150564. (Link)

 

3.  Anderson, R.P., McCoy, V.E., McNamara, M.E., Briggs, D.E.G., 2014. What big eyes you have: The ecological role of giant pterygotid eurypterids. Biology Letters 10, 20140412. (Link)

 

2.  Anderson, R.P., 2013. Britain’s oldest eukaryotes? Geoscientist 23 (6), 10-15. (invited article, non peer reviewed) (Link)

 

1.  Anderson, R.P., Fairchild, I.J., Tosca, N.J., Knoll, A.H., 2013. Microstructures in metasedimentary rocks from the Neoproterozoic Bonahaven Formation, Scotland: Microconcretions, impact spherules, or microfossils? Precambrian Research 233, 59–72. (Link)