Palaeobiology Research Group

The Bristol Palaeobiology Research Group explores all aspects of the history of the biosphere. From macroevolution to mass extinctions, we learn from the deep past to inform our predictions of the future.

Our research reputation

The Bristol Palaeobiology Research Group was identified in 2017 as the best palaeontology research group in the world in the first discipline-specific annual review by the Center for World University Rankings. The score is based on publication impact over the past ten years, and is the current score (no updates since 2017).

Medals and prizes

Students and staff in the Bristol Palaeobiology Reseach Group are frequently recognised by the award of prizes and medals by professional societies and others; read more details here.


We write all the market-leading textbooks in palaeobiology, from the basic 'history of life' texts through to advanced textbooks.


We have kept detailed records of our publications for over thirty years. Read all the details, as well as evidence for impact in terms of numbers of papers, the journals, and especially the changing numbers of citations.

The Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC) has surveyed all the great science done around the world from 2010-2019, and they identified our work on discovering the colour of dinosaurs as one of their Top-Ten Discoveries of the Decade. They named four publications, from 2010 onwards, by Bristol palaeobiologists Jakob Vinther and Mike Benton as leading the field. Read more from the Smithsonian, and from us.

PhD Topics in Palaeobiology for 2021

We have a vibrant group of some 30 PhD students, and we are happy to add more each year. It's a great environment to work in!

We offer a range of topics for prospective PhD applicants. Some come with the chance of funding, through different programmes, but these may have nationality requirements. We are also keen to discuss topics and options with others, especially overseas students who can identify funding opportunities. For example, the University of Bristol has a highly successful co-funding scheme with the Chinese Scholarship Funding Council, and we are especially keen to invite Chinese citizens to discuss project ideas with us.


Full details of eligibility and how to apply (closing date, 7th December, 2020) are here.

Development, function and evolution of the mammalian jaw joint and middle ear, supervised by Emily Rayfield 

Establishing evolutionary timescales, supervised by Phil Donoghue

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