Stephen pates

About Me

I am an invertebrate palaeobiologist using fossil data and quantitative analyses to understand the origins, evolution and ecology of extinct arthropods. Underpinning my research is a desire to understand how past animals lived, why particular morphologies evolved, and test hypotheses linking form and function in extinct groups.

I have three main current research areas of interest:

I work on fossil material from Palaeozoic deposits covering a range of ages and geographic locations, to build a global picture of the changing diversity of early arthropods.

I use statistical analyses, morphometrics, and fluid dynamics simulations to test hypotheses about the function of morphological features in early arthropods.

I place the evolution of key arthropod features into an evolutionary context, and also link key arthropod innovations - such as vertical migration in the oceans - with complexifying Earth systems such as the biological pump.

I am a Herchel Smith Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Zoology and a College Research Associate at Homerton College, University of Cambridge. I have been a researcher in three countries (Switzerland, UK, USA), and four universities (Cambridge, Harvard, Lausanne, Oxford), across both Earth Sciences and Zoology departments.

Research is a global endeavour. Currently I work with an international group of collaborators, including researchers based in Australia, China, Czechia, Spain, Switzerland, UK and USA. I happy to talk about my research, teaching opportunities or areas for collaboration, with anyone interested in the evolution of arthropods and Palaeozoic deposits.

Fossils provide the raw data for my research. I have been lucky enough to see and work on exceptionally preserved soft-bodied arthropod fossils from deposits in Canada, China, Spain, UK and USA, while for my current fellowship research, I am building a dataset on trilobite fossils from around the world, using museum specimens.

Life on the seafloor c. 500 million years ago in what is modern day Utah. Reconstruction of the Marjum fauna by Holly A. Sullivan,