UoB Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor Agustín Martinelli, Argentinean Natural Science Museum, Buenos Aires City, Argentina

Agustin Martinelli profile picture

Looking beyond: how CT scanning opens up new horizons in understanding South American cynodonts and mammalian origins

28 June - 17 July 2018


Dr Agustín Martinelli is an Argentinean paleontologist who was awarded his Ph.D. at the Departamento de Paleontologia e Estratigrafia, Instituto de Geociências, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre (Brazil). He has recently taken up a post as Associate Researcher of the CONICET (The National Scientific and Technical Research Council) at the Sección Paleontologia de Vertebrados of the Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales “Bernardino Rivadavia” (MACN), Buenos Aires (Argentina). He is also an Invited Researcher at the Centro de Pesquisas Paleontológicas L. I. Price, Complexo Cultural e Científico de Peirópolis/UFTM, Peirópolis, Uberaba (MG, Brazil). Martinelli is a leading expert in South American cynodonts, the fossil group that gave rise to all mammals. Since 2003 he has written over 80 publications describing the anatomy and interrelationships of exceptional fossil material and written six popular palaeontology books. He has coordinated and participated in many successful collecting field trips to Triassic-Cretaceous and Paleocene-Miocene rocks of south (Patagonia) and western Argentina and the Permian, Triassic and Cretaceous rocks of central and southern Brazil. His research is mainly focused on the anatomy, phylogeny and taxonomy of non-mammaliaform cynodonts and the origin of mammals, as well as South American Cretaceous tetrapod faunas. 


Dr Martinelli's research is pivotal in understand the evolution of mammals. His work on South American non-mammalian cynodonts, extinct animals that comprise the closest ancestors of living mammals and their fossils ancestors, provides important new data on the how and when mammalian characteristics evolved. His host, Professor Rayfield, has leading expertise in the application of tomographic and computational methods to understanding the functional evolutionary anatomy of fossils. Their research will focus on obtaining and analyzing novel microCT data of South American cynodont fossils to investigate the evolution of mammalian characters: tooth replacement, brain and sensory evolution and feeding biomechanics at the origin of mammals.

During his stay in Bristol Professor Martinelli will be hosted by Professor Emily Rayfield (Earth Sciences) and will give the following lectures/seminars (dates and times TBC): 

Friday 6th July
Department Seminar, 1-2 pm, G25, School of Earth Sciences
Diversity and phylogeny of South American Triassic Cynodonts and their importance for mammal origins.
This lecture will describe the main groups of non-mammaliaform cynodont recovered in South America, and outline their phylogenetic and biostratigraphic importance among Pangaean units. It will be presented at the Palaeobiology Discussion Group seminar series.

Tooth replacement mechaninsms in non-mammaliaform cynodonts: from multiple to diphyodont replacement pattern.
Palaeobiology Seminar Series
This lecture will introduce and discuss the variety of tooth replacement strategies employed by non-mammaliaform cynodonts, that were achieved previous to the origin of mammals.