James Holmes

James Holmes

Higher Degree by Research Candidate

School of Biological Sciences

Faculty of Sciences


My interests revolve around the Neoproterozoic-Cambrian transition and the rise of multicellular life on Earth. In particular, I am interested in developmental processes in Cambrian trilobites, and what these arthropods can tell us about early animal evolution.

My PhD project focuses on quantitative ontogenetics of early Cambrian trilobites from South Australia, largely from the Emu Bay Shale, a Cambrian Burgess Shale-type (BST) Lagerstätte from Kangaroo Island. This type of study has yet to undertaken focusing on organisms of this age, in the aftermath of the Cambrian 'explosion'—the largest animal biodiversification event in Earth’s history. Results from this study will help us to determine how growth is controlled in some of the earliest arthropods, and shows how morphometric analysis of fossil datasets can provide answers to important questions concerning evolutionary developmental biology.

My Masters thesis involved comparisons between the Emu Bay Shale and other Cambrian BST biotas. To this end it involved two major projects; a biogeographic study of Cambrian BST biotas, and a study of moulting behaviour in trilobites from the Emu Bay Shale.


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