I’m Richard Dearden, a PhD student
stranded based at Imperial College London’s Silwood Park Campus, near Ascot in Berkshire. Specifically I work on the very earliest parts of the evolution of the group that includes modern sharks and rays: the cartilaginous fishes. In particular I’m working on a group called the acanthodians, or “spiny sharks”, which lived from about 450-250 million years ago. I’m using fossils to extract information on the morphology of these very early cartilaginous fishes; their morphology can then be compared with the morphology of other early fishes to work out how they were related to to one another and to modern groups, and ultimately to work out how the body plan of modern cartilaginous fishes evolved. Various techniques are being used to do this, including CT-scanning, X-ray synchrotron tomography, and acid preparation.
As well as fossil fishes I also like reading, computer games, cycling, beer, baking bread, and making/listening to music.