Palaeontology is concerned with uncovering patterns of change in the evolution of animal lineages. Combined with data from living groups, and rigorous hypotheses of their evolutionary interrelationships, this approach provides a framework within which to interpret data from comparative embryology, to determine the processes that underpinned evolutionary patterns.

In collaboration with others, we are involved both with uncovering the piecemeal assembly of body plans, in the genetic controls on the embryology of living groups, and combining these two sources of information together to understand the how changes in the genetic regulation of embryology have led to changes in embryological programs, the origin of new body parts and the establishment of new groups of organisms.

Our interests are focussed especially upon understanding early vertebrate evolution and the emergence of multicellular organisms more generally. In particular, our work has focussed on the role of the trans-acting non-coding microRNAs which are important regulators of development and have been implicated as causal in the evolution of organismal complexity within animals and plants.