Dr Ross Anderson

AB, MPhil, PhD
Post-Doctoral Research Fellow since 2017

The emergence and diversification of complex life is the most fundamental biological transition in the history of the Earth. I use fossils to chart the evolution of eukaryotes (those organisms with a membrane-bound cell nucleus), multicellularity, cellular differentiation, and animals, through the Proterozoic Eon (2.5-0.5 billion years ago). Understanding how changing fossil diversity correlates to environmental changes—and the Proterozoic Eon sees some of the largest in Earth history—is vital to determining evolutionary drivers. Not only do I seek new fossils that provide this important palaeobiological information, I critically interrogate the nature of the fossil record. Before the terminal Proterozoic advent of biomineralization, fossilization is confined to poorly understood and unusual circumstances that preserve organic remains. I use novel analytical techniques on fossiliferous strata to understand the conditions conducive to preservation. Such research is crucial to our ability to robustly interpret the temporal and ecological range of fossil organisms. It can also provide new insights into their original chemistry and biology.