Welcome to the personal website of Fenton P D (Woody) Cotterill Please see my Blog here for focal updates in the new interdisciplinary science of Geoecodynamics. I have compiled some materials and links pertinent to my research in the palaetiological sciences, wildlife and outdoor photography and matters African. These will ultimately include synopses of scientific expeditions to various landscapes across Africa, including wetlands.
This site hosts a complete list of my own publications, for which pdfs can be downloaded. As resources permit, I will close remaining gaps with scanned pdfs of selected publications, focusing on selected classics in evolutionary theory, African ecology, evolution and geomorphology and the history and philosophy of science. Please see the respective subsections.
......On the Quest for Knowledge....
"Our greatest intellectual adventures often occur within ourselves not in the restless search for new facts and new objects on the earth or in the stars, but from a need to expunge old prejudices and build new conceptual structures. No hunt can promise a sweeter reward, a more admirable goal, than the excitement of thoroughly revised understanding - the inward journey that thrills real scholars and scares the bejesus out of the rest of us."
(Stephen Jay Gould 2001. I have Landed. New York: Harmony Books, pg 355)
April 2018: New horseshoe bat Rhinolophus gorongosae described from central Mozambique. This paper is the culmunation of nearly 3 decades of collaborative research into two species complexes in the genus Rhinolophus. In describing this new endemic species, we resolve the affinities and identities of R. landeri and R. swinnyi.
December 2016: Nothobranchius sainthousei, a new species of annual killifish described from northern Zambia.
August 2016: I began publishing on the the state of natural science collections and systematics - the Second Alexandrian Tragedy - in early 1990s. This long review paper revisits the interdisciplinary implications of the Tentelic Thesis. I establish the broadest scope of natural history collections in the context of earth system science. This reveals fascinating implications for the epistemology of geobiology, and indeed all the palaetiological sciences.
November 2015: Off the Beaten Track Research project funded by the Volkswagen Foundation: July 2015-June 2018 - Exploiting the Genomic Record of Living Biota to Reconstruct the Landscape Evolution of South Central Africa aims to test and refine the interdisciplinary theory of Geoecodynamics. This multi-disciplinary research project [PDF Project Synopsis] is a close collaboration with biologists and geologists from Munich (Staatliche Naturwissenschaftliche Sammlungen Bayerns), Potsdam (GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences) and Stellenbosch University (South Africa). We are integrating geochronological and geomorphological approaches with comparative biology (genomics) to reconstruct details of landscape evolution. The study focuses on resolving how the phylogenetic relationships of four major groups of fishes reflect timings of tectonically induced drainage evolution in northern Zambia and south-eastern Katanga (Democratic Republic of Congo). Scenic Photos of some of the remarkable waterfalls are here
Evolutionary Melting Pot
Overestimated geological ages of the host rift lake weaken all evolutionary scenarios postulated to explain the origins of the hyperdiverse species flock of cichlid fishes in Lake Tanganyika. Instead, the genomes of two endemic tribes in the modern lake illuminate key events in the pre-lake ancestry of the modern species flock. This entailed a long history of not only lineage divergence, but also genetic admixture in a wetland mosaic. Since the Late Miocene, ancient admixture of riverine and lacustrine cichlids was shaped by repeated gene flow between fishes in now precursor rivers and smaller lakes. Only in the Late Pleistocene did Lake Tanganyika rise to link its chain of deep rift valleys. This brought together several independent LT precursor lineages into the extant lake flock.
October 2015: Dated plant phylogenies resolve Neogene climate and landscape evolution in the Cape Floristic Region. PLoS ONE
May 2015: Lake Tanganyika—A 'Melting Pot' of Ancient and Young Cichlid Lineages (Teleostei: Cichlidae)? PLoS ONE
Published January 2015: Rodents of Sub-Saharan Africa: A Biogeographic and Taxonomic Synthesis
Published January 2015: Geology and Resource Potential of the Congo Basin
Neogene evolution of East Africa's volcanic archipelago and peripatric speciation in Laminate-toothed Rats, genus Otomys
Protected Area proclaimed to conserve free-living Protists
Published February 2013 - Mammals of Africa
Published September 2010 - Bats of Southern and Central Africa: A Biogeographic and Taxonomic Synthesis
The contrast between the wide, shallow channel of the Zambezi River upstream of Victoria Falls and the incised Batoka Gorges [below] reaches its most extreme constriction at the Chomoomba (=Chimamba) Rapids. Here, 41 km downstream of the Victoria Falls, the entirety of the Zambezi's flow is constricted into a narrow (~10m wide) and very deep channel [bottom left / centre]..............where "one stands on the brink of the lower cataract and sees the whole volume of the great Zambezi converging into a single pass only 50 to 60 feet in width, shuddering, and then plunging for 20 feet in a massive curve that seems in its impact visibly to tear the grim basaltic rocks asunder, one learns better than from the feathery spray-fans of the Victoria Falls what force there is in the river, and one wonders no longer at the profundity of the gorge!" (Lamplugh 1907: 151) - see Moore and Cotterill (2010) More Details.....