Evolution and taxonomy of Mesozoic bryozoans

Wilbertopora acuminata

Scanning electron micrograph of the mid-Cretaceous cheilostome bryozoan Wilbertopora acuminata, showing feeding zooids and pointed avicularian polymorphs

Principal Investigator

Dr Paul Taylor

Project summary

  • Focus: Studying the explosive radiation of cheilostomes during the mid-late Mesozoic

Bryozoans, especially cheilostomes, diversified significantly during the mid-late Mesozoic. However, phylogenetic, biogeographical and morphological patterns of diversification are poorly documented, mostly because of a lack of modern taxonomic studies.

A better understanding of the explosive radiation of cheilostomes is needed, as this may have been triggered by a change in reproductive biology from broadcasting to brooding larvae. 

We aim to illuminate this critical time in bryozoan evolution by undertaking taxonomic studies of:

  • selected bryozoan groups - melicerititid cyclostomes, for example
  • selected faunas - such as the Glen Rose Formation of Texas

Origins, evolution and futures

We study the Earth's origins and environment, and the evolution of life.

Invertebrate and plant palaeobiology research

We are investigating the origins and evolution of these diverse fossil groups.

Fossil bryozoan collection

The Museum holds the best collection of fossil bryozoans in the world, with over 5,000 type and figured specimens.