A 350-million-year-old marine 
ecosystem in Scotland 
(Painting by Robert Nicholls)

Vertebrates before and after the end-Devonian extinction (from Sallan and Galimberti, Science, 2015)

348 million year old fish Aetheretmon, showing the ancestral double tail alongside a modern pufferfish with (lower) caudal fin alone.
(Painting by John Megahan)


Lauren Sallan, PhD

Assistant Professor
Earth and Environmental Science
University of 

2017 TED Fellow


CV  Google Citations

Research Summary
We use 'Big Data' approaches, evolutionary trees and detailed study of fossils to determine how global events, environmental change and ecological interactions shaped long-term change (macroevolution) and established modern biodiversity.

Deep-time databases for early vertebrates (half of vertebrate history), ray-finned fishes (half of vertebrate diversity), marine ecosystems and mass extinctions provide our test cases.

Research Interests
Macroevolution, Macroecology,
Early Vertebrates, Ichthyology 
Mass Extinction, Phylogenetics
Biomechanics, Evo-Devo

Listen to a Palaeocast interview about our research on early vertebrate macroevolution and paleobiology

February 2, 2017: Our research on fossil fishes is featured in The Daily Pennsylvanian

January 10, 2017: Lauren has been selected as a 2017 TED Fellow!  Read the announcement in Penn News and Fast Company

December 5, 2016: Our paper on the dual origin of vertebrate tails is out in Current Biology. Press Coverage in the DailyMailSeeker (Discovery News)The Scientist, ScienceDaily and Deutschlandfunk.

September 28, 2016: Multiple lab members will be speaking at the GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, CO. Look out for their presentations! 

November 13, 2015: Our paper on body size trends ("global shrinkage") after mass extinction is out in Science, with a Perspective by Pete Wagner. Press Coverage in the New York Times, Discovery News, ScienceNow, DailyMail, Penn News, and many more (see Press Page), including video and Science Podcast. 

October 17, 2015: Our paper on Bandringa has won the Taylor & Francis Award for Best Paper in Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, second place.

August 28, 2015: Jack Stack has been named a Student Ambassador for the Paleontological Society. He will represent the Society at GSA in Baltimore and on social media. Congratulations, Jack!

August 7, 2015: Lauren received the Stensio Award for top early career researcher at the 13th International Symposium on Early Vertebrates/Lower Vertebrates in Melbourne, Australia!

A 310-million-year-old freshwater ecosystem in Illinois
(Painting by John Megahan)

A phylogeny of living ray-finned fishes
(From Sallan, Biological Reviews, 2014)

A later shell-crushing ray-fin, 
Styracopterus, 340 million years ago
(Painting by John Megahan)